Dressing Violet is, at best, like trying to put clothes on a dead person because she won't lift even a foot to aid me in my sweaty, ass-hanging-out-of-my-stretch-pants endeavors or, at worst, like trying to put clothes on a feral cat. Dressing Henry is never a surprise. It's always like trying to put clothes on a feral cat. Have you ever tried to put a shoe on a wild cat? Exactly. But at least he's consistent.
And then the loading of the car begins. Violet - check, backpack - check, Henry - check, sippy cup loaded with milk - check, binky - check, stash of Goldfish just in case - check, Violet wants her book - check, oh shit it's swimming day I forgot her swimsuit - check, dammit where are the keys - check. Every morning. We haven't even pulled out of the driveway yet and I'm already a greasy, exhausted mess. Add to that the 25 minute drive to pre-school, unloading both kids from the car, walking up the stairs to drop off Violet at her class while herding the wandering Henry along, walking back down with Henry, who inevitably wants to stay and play with "the keeeds, the keeeds!" loading him back into the car and then spending the 25 minute car ride home doing the ol' reach around, which involves me steering with my left hand, keeping my eyes on the road while desperately groping around the backseat floor for his sippy cup or whatever toy he's screaming for. C'mon, butterfingers! Hang onto the damn toy for more than 30 seconds, couldja?
For some reason I have recently decided to up the ante and multiply the stress level by a thousand. Because I'm insane, I guess, or because Cesar Milan A.K.A. The Dog Whisperer is just that convincing. Violet has been obsessed with The Dog Whisperer for a few weeks now which has led to my own renewed obsession. Serge too! Several times, while writing for Babble, I've heard Violet request a viewing only to walk in the playroom forty-five minutes later to find both kids reading books while Serge is on the edge of his seat, completely engrossed in Cesar's latest rehabilitation triumph.
So I got confident, cocky, some skeptics (SERGE) might even say, that I could cure our little Milo of his crazy-ass car behavior. Remember that? When I told you that we call Milo "Crazy Train" in honor of Ozzy's song of the same name? Because Milo is unable to contain himself while in a moving vehicle. He just cannot get his shit together. Acts like a Bieber fan (Belieber?) about to meet the little guy himself. He gets so excited to be going somewhere, anywhere, he just loses his shit. Here, let me remind you:
Um... yeeaaah. Little dude just cannot maintain. To the point that we stopped taking him in the car altogether because each trip was as stressful as transporting a violent, spitting, frothing prison inmate on death row with a desire to jump out of the moving vehicle and nothing to loose. You see where this is going, right? Episode after episode of The Dog Whisperer inspired me to revisit Milo's problem. It's always bothered me that we don't take the dogs anywhere and on the few occasions we do Milo ruins everyone's day. Once upon a time, before Milo's existence ruined his life, Max was a big time car guy. Loved it.
Max and his old pal Spliffy.
I have no such photos of Milo. He came along and ruined our good time car vibe faster than your drunk Uncle Joe can bum out a family dinner by shouting so vehemently about how the world needs to see President Obama's birth certificate that flecks of mashed potato land in your hair.
So we stopped taking the dogs in the car because it sucked so hard. Milo would bark, Serge, channeling every dad in the history of the universe, would yell at Milo to Shut up young man or I'll turn this car around so help me... I would yell at Serge that Milo can't understand what the hell you're saying so stop yelling, you're making it worse! We'd yell at each other, everyone would cry and we'd go home and flounce around not speaking to each other or Milo for several hours.
Max got the rawest deal of all. Because we didn't want to take him and leave poor, confused Milo home alone neither dog goes anywhere, except on special hiking trips which end up being stressful because Milo is banging around the cargo area, barking and spitting like a - well, you saw the video. Every now and again I'll try and sneak out the door with Max for a quickie, a little open window time for the ol' boy as I run errands, but Milo has a sixth sense for doors opening. He could be asleep in a locked room with a fan and a TV blaring but you try and tiptoe out a door and he rockets down the stairs like his ass is on fire.
So yeah, I drank The Dog Whisperer kool-aid and figured I could cure the maniac with a trademark SSSSSHHHT here and a SSSHHHHHT there and maybe a couple Cesar-approved rib jabs. I also sussed out that, maybe, because we got Milo around the same time Violet was born and, out of fear for her safety from his wildly flailing paws, ended up only taking the dogs in the car when going on hikes, maybe he always associates car time with hiking time, which makes him very excited (trust me, the telltale boner that could rival a Viagara-popping porn star's business is evident every time). But Max grew up riding in the car with me running errands and all sorts of stuff. I assume is why he's so mellow in the car - because he understands that a ride is sometimes just a ride and not a gateway to dog party time. I did some further Dog Whispering deduction to come to the conclusion that if I bit the barking bullet for a few weeks and started taking Milo everywhere in the car he'd stop associating the car with fun dog time and just get used to it and please for the love of Dog, mellow the fuck out! You follow me here?
So each morning of the last two weeks has been filled not only with the usual parenting drama, but my sad-ass, little Cesar attempts. Whereas Max rides in the cargo area behind the kids' car seats, Milo sits next to me in the passenger seat where I can poke him in the ribs to show him who the real Alpha Dog is in this family... And it seems to be working!
I wonder if Serge would also recognize my Alpha Dog authority if I start poking him in the ribs?
Milo has mostly stopped barking but all one-hundred plus pounds of him shivers anxiously. High-pitched whines periodically shriek out of his body like steam from a train. It just happens, I don't even think he knows he's whining or why, he just has to release the tension somehow.
I judge my success by the size of his boner. Big boner = way too excited and a leap through the windshield at any moment. I've even told him to put his penis away, a line that, unfortunately, Serge has heard on more than one occasion. But yesterday, after nearly two weeks of the worst car rides of my life, like the closing of a tube of lipstick, the red rocket was nearly gone. Boner-free. And all was peaceful.
Take that, Cesar.