When I first got divorced (the first time – keep up, people), I had all the guilt of a newly divorced mom about how I was depriving my child of a picture-perfect family and childhood, that she was now from a broken home, that maybe I should have stayed longer, blah blah blah… My daughter, being a very smart and SNEAKY five-year-old (the smart ones are always sneaky), saw this and pounced on it immediately, begging me for all of the things she dreamed of – chocolate topped the list – but she begged the longest and the hardest for a dog. Ironically, she did this with puppy dog eyes.
I told her that “as soon as Mommy can afford a place with a dog door we can get a dog, but that may be a long time.” Naturally, the two years went by, somewhat painfully, and in fits and starts, but eventually I found myself moving boxes into the townhouse rental that had a dog door. And there was her adorable and sneaky little face looking up at me with a tiny trembly lip and potential tears in her eyes. And, not for the first OR last time, I could think of absolutely nothing to say that would stop the juggernaut that is my daughter and my mother when they put their hard-as-lonsdaleite (Google it) heads together.
The next thing I knew, the three generations of us were driving home (from the first place we had looked) with a little golden puffball that barked. So cute and so fluffy that my daughter was already going through the top ten puppy names on every seven-year-old’s go-to-puppy-name list. I envisioned having to tell every person I met for the next 10-17 years that my dog’s name was Cutie McSparklePuff. And all I could think when I looked into his little ridiculously cute face was “He looks like a Fabio.” As usual, I took the scenario much further than strictly necessary, and pictured myself, a lonely middle-aged woman with a plastic cup of merlot, cut off shorts, and flip flops, running through suburbia shouting “Fabio! Fahh-bee-yyyo! BAD BOY!” This was potentially worse than introducing Mister McSparklePuff.
Now I was panicking, as the tiny and adorable voice in the car seat continued to rattle off names that were increasingly sickeningly sweet and adorable and multi-syllabic…I could see where this was going. And I HAD TO STOP IT.
“MEE-GELL!” I shouted.
Silence from the rest of the car. “Umm, Miguel. Miguel is a cute name and he looks like a Miguel, don’t you think, honey?” Now there was full-on sweat pouring off of me. My mother, who, despite her ganging up on me about getting a dog, is actually very supportive, sensed my desperation. “Yes, he DOES look like a Miguel,” she said thoughtfully. “What do YOU think, honey?”
I held my breath…Ohpleaseohpleaseohplease…
“Yes,” my little sprite said as she gazed with love into his little bug eyes, “Miguel.” It was the start of an amazing love story.