Canine Coincidences

Last week, I wrote about our family vacation to Great Wolf Lodge. Since then, we’ve been offered three or four dogs. I also volunteered at my daughter’s school as a WatchDOG.

Strange.

I already talked about our vacation, so I’ll skip to the second coincidence. I have no idea why people suddenly felt like we are the perfect place for their furry friends. We’ve had several animals, but none of them have worked for us. They’re either too destructive or have health issues that cost more than my kids.

I’m personally a cat person, preferring the calm, gentle demeanor that most cats bring. I don’t mind dogs, but I’m much more picky. My wife says it’s probably because cats and I have similar traits in our personalities. I can’t entirely disagree with her. I like my personal time, regular feedings, and sleep. Oh, how I love my sleep.

But I digress. We have even dabbled into the exotic pets category with our chinchilla. He ended up destroying our walls and carpet with his constant urination. He was very cute and fun to watch, but we had to give him up for sanitary reasons since we had a toddler at the time.

In total, we’ve had one chinchilla, four cats and two dogs. None of them lived with us more than a year. My wife and I agreed that we want to wait to have any more pets until far into the future, like after the kids are grown and moved out.

Speaking of kids, let’s switch over to the bright side of my week, or month, for that matter. I took off work on Monday to volunteer at my daughter’s school as a WatchDOG. It was so much fun! Due to parent/teacher conferences, though, it was only a half day. I didn’t get to have the “full” experience, but I enjoyed every minute nonetheless.

WATCH D.O.G.S. (Dads of Great Students) is a wonderful program that invites fathers, grandfathers, uncles and father-figures to volunteer a day or two during the year at their child’s school. It’s intended to bring a male presence into the schools (every volunteer goes through a background check) because two dads noticed that the one thing missing in their kids’ school was them.

This year was my second time volunteering. Last year, my daughter went to a different school, so I got the benefit of getting to experience two different schools. I enjoyed both schools’ programs and will continue to volunteer as long as I can!

My day started with an early arrival at the school, where we went to the office, signed in, got my schedule and took a photo with my daughter. Then, we walked to my first assignment: Stand at the gate and welcome all the kids with high-fives and smiles. After about fifteen minutes of hand-slapping, I gave my daughter a hug and moved on to my next stop: Turn on the computers in the computer lab.

Once that inglorious task was complete, I went to my daughter’s class and helped out with spelling tests and reading. Unfortunately, it was quiet time, so I didn’t get to spend any time with my daughter. She didn’t seem to mind, because she knew I would see her later at lunch and recess.

After leaving her class, I got to play security guard and walk the perimeter. I didn’t know it at the time, but apparently I freaked out a couple kids when they saw me walking from the far side of the field. Their teacher knew who I was, so she let them know. She thought it was pretty funny.

Just as I was finishing my lap around the school grounds, the bell rang for recess. I spent the entire recess playing hide-and-seek with about twenty kids. It’s amazing how many kids will argue over who gets to count. I grew up with a group of kids who would do almost anything to not count.

The bell rang. The kids lined up and went to class while I took a break before I helped set up the cafeteria for lunch. I set up the tables with the custodian, who, as I discovered, was the custodian at my daughter’s previous school the year before. We talked about various subjects while the tables were rolled out and lined up.

Again, the bell rang and kids filed into the lunch room, class by class. My daughter’s class entered and I got my food while she socialized at her table. I didn’t realize how small those tables really were until I had to squeeze my legs under them like a Tetris game. The food was alright, but I could have eaten about three more.

The lunch monitor dismissed our table, and we exited the room to frolic on the playground once more. The rest of my day, actually, was nothing but recess. Needless to say, I was tired, but it was worth it.

Kids remember the days their parents go the extra mile to make their life special. That’s why I volunteer. I want my daughter to look back, over all my shortcomings, and see multiple bright moments in her childhood.

Moments that say, “I may not have been perfect, but I loved you as much as I could.”

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