Prior to my parents’ visit this past weekend, I had numerous conversations with my pre-schooler about the appropriate etiquette with which to behave around her grandparents.  I thought that we had come to an understanding.  “These people are your family,” I explained to her.  “They’ve traveled a long way to see you.  They love you.”  She nodded along, “yeah, yeah mom, I get it.  I’ll be real pleasant and hold off on sending them my holiday order form until after we’ve met.”  “Holiday order form?” I questioned her.  “Yeah mom, remember?!  You told me to write down all the stuff I want and send it straight to them.  You know!  That list….  For Christmas!”  I silently shook my head.  “Just don’t bark at them,” I pleaded.  “Whatever you do, please don’t bark.”

In a traditional story, this paragraph would begin with Lexie aggressively barking at my parents who had driven eighteen hours to see us, but Lexie isn’t a traditional dog.  Lexie didn’t bark, she didn’t growl, she didn’t wag her tail or even so much as gaze in their direction.  She just sat there.  Shell shocked and fully committing to a completely vacant stare.  It was as though each of our conversations leading up to this moment had gone in one ear and out the other.  It was as though she hadn’t understood a word I’d been saying.

As we walked into our apartment, Lexie repeatedly looked back in the hopes that we’d shaken our predators.  But then they followed us inside.  Most dogs like treats, and Lexie is no exception, so I suggested that my mother approach her with one as a bribe.  Or a peace offering.  Unfortunately, it seems that Lexie might have seen one episode too many of “Lambchops Play-Along” in her past life because the “taking candy from a stranger test” is one that she’s determined to pass with flying colors.  “Let me guess,” she surmised, “you’re also looking for a lost puppy and need me to get in your car to help you find it.  Yeah, and then you’ll sell me a bridge at a real fair price.  I don’t think so!”

Lexie’s reluctance to enjoy a snack with her grandparents wasn’t an isolated incident.  They were with us for two days, and for two days, Lexie didn’t eat one bite. She did drink water though…but only when I brought the bowl directly to her as she held court from her green love seat.  Yes, her green love seat.  The vet cautioned me to thwart off her attempts at becoming the apartment’s co-captain, and my immediate response to this warning was to burst out laughing.  Through my persistent chuckles though, I tried to explain to him that I was already just another passenger sitting in coach, begging for a second bag of pretzels.

My parents made every effort to get Lexie to warm up.  My mom even went so far as to sit next to her in her big green chair.  It seemed that they had been playing a game of “hot/cold,” and as my mom confidently sat in that chair, I could hear Lexie screaming, “ICE COLD” at the top of her lungs, followed by, “GET THE HELL OUT OF MY LOVE SEAT.”  I wanted to tell Lexie that we don’t use language like that, but I knew she’d laugh in my face as I’d done earlier in the vet’s office.  After all, the kid does live with me.

Finally my mom decided to actually pick Lexie up, and I knew that this action would be considered a very bold move in the eyes of my young warrior.  My mom remarked that Lex was “stiff as a board,” and I sensed that this was her attempt at donning a Harry Potter-strength  invisibility cloak to avoid any potential confrontation.  Lexie seemed to be muttering to herself, “don’t make any sudden movements, and the enemy will retreat.”  “Don’t make any sudden movements and the enemy will retreat.”  It had become her survival call.

Lexie looked to me for help, but like any parent of a reluctant pre-schooler, my only response was to imitate Mickey Mouse and tell her that “it’s ok.  Mommy’s here. You’re ok.”  Naturally, as soon as I heard myself speak in this voice, the one that only small people and Muppets have the ability to evoke, my instinct was to stand up, walk outside, and throw myself into oncoming traffic.  But if I went through with that, then what would happen to Lexie?  I realized in that moment that my life isn’t my own anymore.  Becoming roadkill is no longer a viable option for me.

Things seemed to calm down in the evening, and by the time Lexie woke up the following morning, it was obvious that she felt like a brand new woman.  Fresh out of the box.  She enthusiastically licked my face (yum) and playfully followed me outside for her morning stroll, eagerly running back to our front door at its completion.  Alright, I thought to myself, we’re goodThe shock has dissipated.

Just as we had gathered around for pancakes and “Saved By the Bell” though, the winds shifted.  My parents had woken up, and Lexie swiftly reverted to the personality of an inanimate collector’s item propped up on the highest shelf.  It hadn’t been a dream, and Lexie continued on with her lifelong audition of being cast in “Jim Hensen’s The Secret Life of Toys.”  Don’t let the humans see you move.  I’m a toy.  I’m just an ordinary toy.

Sadly, our weekend-long visit came to an end but not before Lexie was able to coax her grandparents into buying her a brand new dish set and into giving her the promise of more glitter to come.  Naturally, I didn’t get anything.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned over time  it’s that once a grandchild has come along, the parent no longer has any use for their own kid anymore.  Destiny has fulfilled itself and the mission has been accomplished.  Also, Lexie wants to earn her keep, so she’s accepting any modeling or television offers that come her way.  And if you do have such an offer for her, I have this to say to you,  “she really has a very charming personality.”

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