When our family consisted of just two adults and a dog, there were fewer messes, fewer groceries and far fewer tears.
And, as we recently discovered, fewer banned words.
Our extended family knows that you never say “walk,” “run” or “treat” in our house. I am known for starting a story with, “While I was on my R-U-N …” spelling out the word in a room full of adults and no dogs.
If Mona, our dog, hears the word, she tears around the house looking for her leash and whining. And if you say “treat,” she’ll hover outside the “scary” closet and wait patiently until someone gives in to her puppy dog eyes.
(The “scary” closet is where – in a cruel twist – we keep both the vacuum and the dog treats.)
Over the past month, we had to add another word to our banned list: Bubbles.
Monster is fiercely in love with Bubbles. Scary, obsessive teenager love. If Bubbles had a phone, Monster would be calling it every few minutes and ending every conversation with, “I seriously love you to death and will jump off a bridge if you leave me.”
If we say “bubbles” in this house, the baby instantly chants for Bubbles, opening every cabinet and every drawer hoping to find Bubbles.
It wouldn’t be an issue if he simply enjoyed Bubbles’ company, laughing with ease at light conversation and marveling at Bubbles’ beauty.
Unfortunately, we’re dealing with crazy-stupid-love. Like, stomp-Bubbles-and-scream-that-it’s-gone kind of love. Get-upset-with-Bubbles-and-throw-a-tantrum kind of love.
It begins innocently enough. Monster approaches Bubbles, mesmerized watching Bubbles in action. The two dance around our family room, Monster clapping, Bubbles popping. It is sweet, adorable puppy love in all its splendor. Shiny faces, bright smiles and good, clean fun.
But the joy is fleeting. Somewhere, things go sour. Monster and Bubbles lose their rhythm. Things just aren’t working like they did 20 seconds earlier.
Then begins the frustration, which leads to the crying, which results in the separation, which ends in a soaked, sobbing toddler waddling around the house, searching for Bubbles, moaning:
The sound of your child pining is a terrible one. It haunts me at night, the image of his fat little face streaked with innocent bystanders of a lost love, his voice rasping the two syllables that to any other parent sounds like babble but we know is the beat of his broken heart.
When Monster and Bubbles are on “the outs,” I do to him what my mom did to me when I went through my first (and second, and third) breakup: Cut him off, cold turkey. No more seeing Bubbles, no more playing with Bubbles.
Until he can learn to have a peaceful relationship with Bubbles, I just can’t stand to see him hurt.
So add “bubbles” to our banned word list, and you can be sure that Bubbles is in the scary closet, right next to the dog treats and Mona’s leash.