“My sister did something really cool and I’m proud of her…” The boy said as he entered the car. “But it wasn’t my idea,” the doll objected. “Nevertheless, you did participate in putting them up…” he said. “Put what up?” I interjected. “Oh, a few of us put notes of encouragement on random lockers throughout the school because not everyone will get a valentine tomorrow,” my doll explained as her brother and I beamed with pride. “Well that’s very sweet…” I said in return and she shrugged her shoulders adding, “No big deal”.
Usually on birthdays, the kids pick out their mealtime menus for dinner. But this year, the doll was nonplused about the idea, so I made fajitas, one of her favorite dishes. Then, for the first time in what felt like a really long time, the kitchen table was de-cluttered of paint brushes, paints and junk mail and as a family we sat down together and shared a meal.
Afterwards, as we cleared away the dishes, I brought out her “cookie” cake and frozen yogurt, scooped some into bowls and the doll cut us each a piece to enjoy. “Doll, I’m sorry I couldn’t give you a puppy this year..” I said, harking back to a promise I made to her when she was little. “Mom, please I know…” she replied holding up her hand in a halting fashion. “Yes, as you know bringing a puppy into our world just wouldn’t be fair to the old dog here…” I said, pausing for a moment as the doll gave me back a bored lectured look from her face. “But in all honesty,” I began again, “I broke the original promise to you two years ago…”
She stopped for a moment, giving me a quizzical look and asked “What?”
Her father, who sat kitty corner to her let out an audible, “Oh no…” as she began to take in what I said. “What did you say?” She asked for clarification. “Well, to be fair, when you were younger, you had a speech impediment and one day while we were out walking you mistakenly asked, Mommy when I turn firfteen, I can have a puppy of my own?’ and I saw this as an advantage and said, “Yes, when you turn fifteen…”
“MOM!” She said loud and sternly at me while I sat still with a snarky smile on my face. “Doll…” I replied. “How could you do that to me… How am I supposed to trust you ever again?” She added. “To be fair, we wouldn’t have been able to bring a puppy into our home then either and you know this. But I promise you, sometime in the future, like when you’re living on your own after college, you’ll have a puppy of your own…” I said. “Oh jeez, thanks,” She sarcastically returned. “Baby, we’ll work something out…” I tried.
Before bed, she exited her room and asked me for a hug. “I don’t know why, I just need one,” She said and circled her arms around my waist. As I did the same, I heard her begin to cry. “Doll, what’s wrong? Is this about the puppy?” I asked. “I don’t know, she said with a sad smile. I miss my friends from last year. I never get to see them anymore and I want a puppy,” she added and then began to laugh through her tears. “Are you also a bit hormonal at the moment?” I wondered and she nodded in agreement. “You know, at least you get to talk to your friends via text everyday. When I was a kid, we didn’t have that,” I said and she nodded. Then I said, “But I’ll tell you what, once we get the downstairs finished and back in order, we’ll have a sleepover for your friends-heck you can even invite a few new ones if you’d like. In the meantime, it’s okay to be a little sad and miss their physical presence” I replied, patting her softly on her back while slowly rocking in our hug. “I know, I just miss them…” She said before breaking apart and then adding, “and my puppy!” I nodded and smiled, “I know baby, I know…”
Turning fifteen is tough business with one foot trying to hang onto her youth while the other begins to leap into responsibilities and bright futures–one that may even include a puppy.