Letter to the Editor

Those misbehaving children

Thursday, February 17, 2005

It's been a long time since I've had to use the words every parent has used at least a dozen times against their children.

"Knock it off, or I'll stop the car and make you walk," hasn't been a part of my vocabulary since my oldest son went off and joined the Coast Guard in 1999. So you can imagine my surprise when the words escaped my lips on the trip home from Trenton one day.

I had decided to give the dogs -- Max the golden retriever, Gizmo the Pekingese, and Chewey the mutt -- a reprieve from their small lives.

Everything went smoothly on the trip there, but on the trip home the dogs must have been getting bored.

Max was happily hanging his head out the side window, catching bugs in his teeth and Chewey had firmly planted himself under Max's feet. Gizmo had found a nice comfortable spot away from both of them.

Suddenly, I heard a yelp, a growl, and the very distinctive sound of gnashing teeth.

I was caught by surprise. I threw on the brakes. Chewey flew into the floorboard of the back seat, all four feet sticking straight up in the air. Max's back paws ended up on top of Chewey, his front paws hugged the back of the driver's seat and his pink tongue was about an inch from my ear. Gizmo remained in her nice comfortable spot away from both of them.

I finally brought the car to a complete stop.

It only took a few seconds for Max to extricate himself from his awkward position. It took Chewey a little longer, not only because of the limited space but because of his rather rotund figure.

I sat in the driver's seat, fuming.

"You guys know better than that," I yelled at them.

Like my kids used to do, they sat quietly in the back seat with sheepish, sorrowful looks plastered on their little faces.

"We could have had an accident," I continued ranting.


"This isn't going to happen again, is it?" I asked them.


I was looking for some kind of response. If only they had licked my face to show their true remorse, but there was nothing -- no lick, no whine, not so much as a flick of the ear to show me they understood my anger.

Finally it was decided -- the two of them must be punished, then and only then would they understand their folly.

Knowing how much Max enjoys hanging his head out the window, I banished him to the back of the SUV. Chewey hates confined spaces so he was ordered into the floorboard of the front passenger seat. Gizmo remained in her nice comfortable spot away from both of them.

The next day as I was getting ready to run to the store, Max and Chewey beat me to the door, expecting another ride. Neither of them had demonstrated their regrets for their bad behavior. As retribution for their past mistakes, I walked back, grabbed Mikey, and took him for a ride.

As I pulled away from the house, I looked back, seeing Max's and Chewey's forlorn little faces staring out the window.

"That'll teach them," I told Mikey. He looked at me, licked my face with a flick of his tongue and gently shook his head.

Mikey is such an understanding iguana.

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