I remember a few years ago the Child telling me that her teacher had superpowers: “Mrs S is amazing mummy. She can tell if I’m chatting even when she has her back to me and I’m talking to my friend silently. How does she do that?” I explain that “talking” and “silently” are mutually exclusive terms and therefore impossible. However, the ability to hear even the slightest sound is an inbuilt skill that all teachers have and is indeed a superpower: “It’s a bit like when daddy tries to pretend he’s been working late but he’s actually been to the gym – I always know. That’s a mummy superpower.”
Toffee has two superpowers. Firstly, she can always tell if you are going to leave her. Secondly, she can make you feel intense guilt for even thinking about leaving her.
When I say she can always tell if you’re going to leave her, I don’t mean just when you’re going to leave the house. Any dog that doesn’t know when you’re planning on leaving the house and doesn’t try yo make you feel bad about it has either had a lobotomy or simply hates you. I mean when you’re going to have a shower, or a wee, or to get the milk from the front step, or to get the washing in when it’s raining, or just to get five minutes to yourself for goodness sakes. She can be fast asleep on the floor in my office and as soon as I think of nipping downstairs to put the kettle on her head pops up like a jack-in-the-box. I haven’t even moved – it’s like she’s wired into my brainwaves. I’m thinking: “Mmmm 10.30 in the am. Haven’t had a drink since 7. Perhaps I’ll” and bang that dog is giving me the look: “Are you leaving me? Why are you leaving me? How could you leave me? Please take me with you or I’ll die of loneliness.” I’m only making a cup of tea for goodness sake, I’m not heading off on a gap year!
It’s freaky and I don’t like it. It reminds me of when the Child was a Baby. She would wake up in the night and I would go and soothe her back to sleep by stroking her head or something, but the very millisecond I stopped the little toad would open her eyes. She couldn’t talk of course but if she could she’d be saying: “yeah you reckon you’re going back to bed? do you wanna risk it? do you? you’ve put a good 15 minutes in on the head stroking and you’re gonna blow it? you wanna go back to square one? if you’re sensible and if you wanna get some sleep tonight I suggest you carry on with that head stroking for a little bit longer.” Memories of those long nights still give me the shudders.
On the rare occasions I do manage to extricate myself from the Tofster, I somehow feel guilty about it. This is completely irrational of course. She is just a dog and I feed her, take her for walks and she is with me when I am working. But that clearly isn’t enough for her or for me. I’ve even put her lead on and taken her with me to put the bins out – how sad is that? Why do I feel guilty about leaving a dog to put the bin out?
It has to be those superpowers. Either that or I’m a soft touch . . .