DOG DAYS

DOG DAYS

From Chicken Soup for the Working Mom's Soul

Dog Days

I don’t know what month Cain killed Abel, but I am willing to bet money that it was August. If, as T. S. Eliot wrote, “April is the cruelest month . . . mixing memory and desire . . . ,” then August is surely the longest, draggiest, whiniest, most quarrelsome and disagreeable month, mixing boredom and discontent. All the shine has worn off what in June seemed so exciting and fun. Children who were in their swimsuits and flip flops by 6:30 AM that first week after school let out for the summer, jumping up and down, asking every five minutes what time the pool opened, now whine, “Do we have to go swimming?”

Nobody cares if they ever eat another bite of watermelon in their lives. The same boys who were up at dawn each morning raring to go, who could be seen only as quick brown blurs from the corner of your eye, bicycle centaurs, barely able to hold still long enough to bolt down a PB and J, in August wake at noon, sluggish and morose. They drape themselves over the furniture, staring blankly for hours at Popeye cartoons that their grandmothers watched when they were young girls.

Nothing is fun; nothing tastes good; siblings hate each other. “Mom! He is so stupid! He thinks that zzzzz should xxxxx with the kkkkk to kill the wwww! Why did you even have him in the first place?He is so stupid!” As if, when presented with a brand-new little bundle of pink and white baby swaddled in a soft blanket, I might have looked into Baby’s face and then in horror at the nurse. “Oh no! Take this one back! You can tell just by looking at him that he will think he can use a Whatsit to stun the Zorgoff, when everyone knows you have to get the Key first! Take him away. He’s going to be so stupid!”

Everything was beautiful in June. There were days and weeks and months to look forward to, filled with the prospect of camp and cookouts and fireworks. Endless marshmallows. Fish sticking their slick heads up out of glistening water and grinning toothlessly, saying, “Pretty please, catch me. I’m here, I’m yours, and I have a thousand million brothers.” Miles and miles of uncharted territory to explore, depths to plunge, and adventure around every corner. There was buried treasure out there somewhere and the possibility it could be found by a boy who was smart enough and brave enough and didn’t have to come in until 10:00 PM.

That was June. This is August. It is hot and muggy. Whatever treasure might have been glimmering in a cool, dark place then has certainly dissolved and rotted in the heat by now. Been eaten by dogs. Anyway, gone, and if not gone, then not worth the trouble. Nothing is worth the trouble. And isn’t there anything good to eat? Sheesh!

As far as I am concerned, school cannot start soon enough.

You know that summer is well and truly over, no matter what the calendar might say, when Boy number one innocently sticks his foot out while taking out the trash, stretching perhaps, or imagining that he would someday earn a place in a modern dance troupe, and Boy number two (the stupid one) runs into it. Because he’s, well, you know. It’s not Boy number one’s fault. He was just, you know, sticking out his foot. The last thing he wants in the world is to hurt anybody, even somebody too stupid to watch where he’s going! Damnit. Huh? No way, Mom! That’s cussing! Cussing is just as bad as hurting stupid people. Bed? Maaahhhh-uuuum! It isn’t even dark yet!

Sheesh!

So good-bye summer! Hello school! I will pay any amount for pre-worn-out-looking cargo pants and Chucks, buy any number of three-ring binders, pocket folders, boxes of Kleenex, and bottles of hand sanitizer. I will agree to chair any committee, sell any number of raffle tickets, do anything, say anything. I will personally buy nine hundred pounds of chocolate and eat it standing on my head. Just let August be over. Soon.

Elizabeth Bussey Sowdal

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