When Annie first came home she was very shy and quiet. She was reluctant to come when called and preferred to observe us from afar. I would catch fleeting black glimpses out of the corner of my eye but when I turned she would be gone. I started to think of her as Annie the Friendly Ghost. She would wait until we were pre-occupied and would quietly leave her crate to see what we were doing. I chose to let these moments pass “unnoticed” because she was trying to figure out her new situation and if she was safe.
Slowly, she started to trust us and became more comfortable searching us out. It took months for her to join us in another room and the ghosting became less frequent. She now follows me throughout the house and lays down at my feet where ever I may be. It’s so normal to have her nearby that I forgot about Annie the Friendly Ghost until something sparked the memory the other day. It brought a smile to my face to realize how much she has changed as she stomps through the house, no longer trying to be as quiet and unnoticeable as possible.
By the day after Labor Day, everyone will be safely back into a school routine.
Each summer, when August rolls around, our thoughts always turn to Back to School. When the kids were younger we would start thumbing through catalogs looking at new backpacks, lunch boxes and clothes. We would go to Target with the supply list in hand and try to get all of the required notebooks, pencils, pens, assorted other desk needs as well as the requested Kleenex, paper towels and hand sanitizer for each class room. Every attempt was made to do this shopping as soon as the list was available to avoid the mess and mayhem of the over crowded supply section as the first day of school approached–some years we were successful!
As the kids got older, the lists got shorter since we usually had an abundance of supplies that hadn’t been used the year before. On the last day of school, they would come home with a bag of unused pens, pencils, sharpies, markers, scissors, paper and spirals that would get shoved into the basement closet and dragged back out in August to be recycled in the upcoming year. Once they were in high school, the supply list didn’t exist, they were on their own to determine what supplies they needed and they would pick them up when necessary. Talk about supply list liberation!
As the years went by, it became easier for me to say good-bye as they headed off to school, and I even caught myself breathing a sigh of relief. I love summer and the relaxed schedule, but eventually it’s time to get everyone back into a routine. For years that meant earlier to bed and earlier to rise, regular meal times and reconditioned study habits. Now, with Thomas about to start his sophomore year in college and Abigail moving to a new city to begin graduate school, it means making piles in the living room with dorm room and apartment needs, wardrobes for warm weather and the change of season, laptops and study aids, fans, mini- fridge and all the other assorted items they cant live without.
This year, by the beginning of August I was ready for them to go. I was ready to have my quiet house back. I will not miss the multiple baskets of laundry stacked high in varying states of cleanliness, tripping over the huge shoe that has been kicked off right in the middle of the door way, my favorite beach towel missing because someone else decided to swipe it, the wet bath towels strewn around on the floor, the egg skillet left in the sink and the refrigerator and pantry constantly being raided.
There is a pile of crumbs and a dirty knife in front of the toaster. Every. Damn. Day! To be fair, they are in charge of their own laundry and bathroom, and supposedly the egg pan and dirty dishes, but none is done on a schedule or with a thoroughness that I would like.
I love having my kids home but by last spring my husband and I had started to enjoy having the house to ourselves. I never thought I would say that. It seemed impossible to imagine a life that didn’t have them home every night, but we learned to love it! We splurged on a new couch that fits just the two of us. We like to fix our dinner on a tray and eat in front of the TV with our 2 big dogs curled up at our feet. I like coming in the back door and not tripping over a discarded shoe. I like reaching for my favorite bag of potato chips and knowing that it will be there. I like finding the house exactly the way that I left it, whether it is dirty or clean. Somehow, two huge and hairy dogs can’t compete with two grown children when comes to leaving a messy trail.
I’ve surprised myself by liking the empty nest and I look forward to missing my kids again and counting the days until they will be home for thanksgiving weekend!
Over the last couple of months some unusual things have gone missing. A pair my favorite knit gloves, two muffins that were left on a plate for the kids, a sock, a container of spinach dip that was placed next to a bag of carrots, a deli bag with a couple of slices of swiss cheese, a wooden coaster created by an artist depicting neighborhoods in Chicago and the repeated disappearance of Grandma’s dog treat containers that she brings to the house when she dog sits. I have found my coffee cup empty or knocked over when I return to the spot where it was left. A plum was pulled out of Grandma’s bag while she was napping. It had a couple of punctures and then was left discarded in the middle of the room.
With two dogs in the house, it’s difficult to assign blame with complete confidence, but I’m pretty sure it’s all Annie. I have found incriminating evidence in the back of her crate, and up until now, Maisie’s only vice has been the bathroom trash or grabbing the end of the toilet paper roll and stringing it around. She’s more of a rebel when she’s alone, I think Annie is the scavenger.
At least that’s what I thought until the joint supplement episode. When I found the empty container, I was immediately worried about Annie and didn’t even consider that Maisie was involved. The strewn about cotton rounds were her calling card and my son found her trying to get into a dog treat bag. Both of those things came out of a drawer within the dog food cabinet. Maisie has proven to be very handy opening doors and now apparently drawers. It wasn’t until I was talking to poison control and they recommended treating both dogs that I thought there was a possibility that Maisie had participated. Until then, I was convinced Maisie would never do such a thing. But of course she would. She’s. A. Dog! These were yummy, beef flavored supplements that I doled out like treats! Thank goodness we did because Maisie had twice the amount in her system than Annie!
So now, I’m more confused than ever. While it is certainly possible that Annie is the instigator, I’m beginning to think she stands and watches and then cleans up what is left. I am very curious about how they have gotten things off of the counter. Annie’s not that tall, she’s not a jumper and she doesn’t even climb on the couch. The stools don’t have any scratch marks on them. Maisie could easily jump up and grab anything she wants, but she never has. Or I should say, I’ve never caught her even thinking about doing that, and up until recently, nothing has been swiped off of the counter. Is Annie instructing her on what to grab and then sharing the spoils? The crumbs and wrappers keep ending up in the back of Annie’s crate, not Maisie’s.
Hmmm, until I catch them in the act I’m left to my own imagination.