As I write this, it’s 11:45 Saturday night. Normal human beings are either out partying, having sex, or watching Donald Trump make a fool of himself on Saturday Night Live.
I am not, nor have I ever claimed to be, normal.
I am awake after an invigorating 4 combined hours of sleep. Yay me.
The likeliness that I will sleep further is low. For the record, I am neither whining nor complaining, just reporting. I rarely sleep more than 5 hours on any given night for a number of reasons, most of them Dawn’s fault.
On this night, I am awake as my newly born 6 week old “nephew” named Grant is having his first sleep-over at Williams Manor. I use quotes to refer to him simply because he is my girlfriend’s brother’s son, thus not yet legally my nephew since I am not actually married into the family. Technically, I am not his uncle. But I am. This kid loves me. My girlfriend Ashley, who has never wanted children of her own (and still doesn’t) loves him, and, to be fair, I love him. There are, admittedly, few things on Earth as rewarding and sweet as a child of any age who curls into you as though the world would not exist without you and holds you tighter than anything else on the planet ever has.
Perhaps the only thing more rewarding is the ability to return this wonderful child to his parents.
On Friday morning, Ashley asked me about Grant sleeping over at our house for the first time. I told her we needed to take the day to think about it and we would arrive at a decision, together, by Saturday morning, and so we did. Grant has been at our house many times already, usually for an average of 5 hours. He doesn’t do much, from what I surmise, other than cry, sleep, and poop. Thus, he’s like my Grandparents in their dying days.
I have almost no affinity for children, yet, contrary to popular opinion, I do not hate them. I hate almost all grown adults on Earth, and all parents. The latter group are responsible for ruining the crumb-crunchers that infect us all with their simultaneous cuteness and rudeness. Thus, along comes nephew Grant who is an adorable, lovable addition to the world until he gets screwed up by the rest of us, which, I assume, is only months away. Grant does what babies do; he cries and whines and wants to be fed and changed, but he also gives seemingly unconditional love to anyone that will care for him, including me. There are already countless incriminating photos of him nestled into my chest with a seemingly happy look on my face. So be it.
I am still a little unsure of why Ashley thought, and Grant’s parents agreed, that now was the time for a sleep over.
Scratch that; I am certain that I know why his parents thought this was a good idea.
For our part, I told Ashley that our dogs were my first concern. While Nellie and Rocky, the White German Shepherd and the Chihuahua, respectively, have warmed to Grant’s presence, the lead Shepherd named Shep has not. I should probably clarify when I describe the warming of Nellie and Rocky. Nellie ignores the child’s existence entirely. Rocky, meanwhile, was quite upset the first few visits at this thing the size of him getting more attention than he. Along the way, though, we have gotten Rocky to learn that Grant is part of the family and Rocky is coming around. Training works; at least on two of the three of our dogs it works.
And then there’s Shep, who turns into a Jackal on crack anytime the baby is around. Shep prances, dances, and jumps in a constant asinine circle within a 3 foot radius of wherever Grant is and he never, ever stops. I have tried everything I know when it comes to dog training and I can’t get him to stop this behavior. Xanax or a ball peen hammer are next on my list of ideas. Whether they’re for him or me is still up for debate.
The end of Saturday night arrived and Grant was placed in his crib next to our bed. Shep was placed in his kennel because it was the only way we were going to sleep. And the only way Shep was going to sleep too, the idiot. I put Nellie in charge of home security and fell asleep.
For about an hour.
And then I was awoken by Grant cooing, crying, or doing whatever it is that these mini-humans do, which was a sound too much for Shep to handle, who somehow promptly broke out of his kennel and had his face in Grant’s face.
Our kennels are fairly simple and straight forward; they are wooden, and they latch. I put Shep back in his kennel, checked the latch, confirming it was closed by pulling on the front gate, thus proving to myself that there was no way any animal could bust out of it and went back to sleep. An hour later Ashley woke me up to say “Shep got out again.”
At this point I believe I uttered the phrase “what in the actual fuck?”
I put Shep back in his kennel for a third time, again pulling on the front gate to insure it was closed, and again crawled into bed hoping to fall asleep. About 2 hours later, there was Shep in Grant’s face.
Sleeping was clearly over, and it was time to get up, take Houdini the dog into the family room and close the bedroom door so that everyone other than me could get some sleep.
As I bring this Soapbox to a close, it is early Sunday morning and I have, along with Ashley (who is well rested, as is Grant) have inspected the kennel. There is no God Damned way Shep should or could have gotten out, yet he did. It is fully functioning, and the latch works and what in the actual fuck? Did he use his tongue to lift the latch? Does he possess some new form of the Romulan Cloaking Device which allows him to move through matter?
It was only weeks ago that we thought Shep was going to die and so it is unforgettable moments like these that remind me to be grateful he is alive. I can sleep when I’m dead, I suppose. Or maybe when Shep’s dead.
None of this is Grant’s fault, although his presence is certainly what spurred the events of the evening. He seems like a decent enough guy for being 6 weeks old and since I do almost no caretaking of him, he isn’t much of a burden on me other than his ear piercing scream when he is hungry. “I’m trying to watch Meet The Press, Grant!”
Both Shep and I can’t wait for Grant to return. Technically, we can and will wait, but we don’t want to. The only thing better than Grant leaving is when he arrives.