Monday Notes: I Don’t Want your Child (or Dog)!

I vibe with dogs and kids. That’s the way I’ve always been. If you have a dog and 24 hours, then we’ll probably be besties. The same applies if you have a child under 12. He, she, or they will be my best friend by the time I leave your home. I’ve accepted this about myself; however, those outside of my immediate circle don’t know this information, and thus, problems arise. Sometimes, people think I want their kid and dog, or at least that’s how they act.

When I visited my in-laws, my youngest niece attached herself to me as soon as I arrived. We’d never met, yet she stuck by my side and offered me a snaggle-tooth grin every time I looked her way. She followed me around the house and said she wanted to come home with me. She sat beside me at church and whispered jokes.

“Does anyone want to give their life to Christ?” the pastor asked.

“She does,” she shouted, pointing at me and trying to raise my hand.

“Oh yeaaaah?” the pastor’s eyes brightened.

“No. No,” I assured him, and then to my niece, “you trying to get me in trouble…at church???” I teased, giving her a side-eye.

She returned a gapped-tooth smile.

She insisted on sitting next to me at dinner, her mother on the opposite side of the table. “You like your Aunt Kathy?” she asked, through a tight grin.

When we returned home, she began calling me “Mama,” instead of Aunt Kathy.

“You don’t even know her name,” her father said, clearly bothered by her instant affinity.

I remained quiet as insecurity filled the air. Children don’t have to know your name. All they have to feel is safe and seen. It’s a vibe. I don’t want your child I wanted to holler. She’s clearly starving for attention. Instead, I lay on the couch and pretended to be sleepy, in hopes that she’d leave me alone and perhaps spare her parents the sound of her eight-year-old voice calling me mama.

The next day, she cried and hid under the table because she didn’t want me to leave.

Fast forward years later, and I met a three-year-old cousin, who hadn’t seen me since she was born. At first, she was shy, as many tots are, but eventually, after I began asking her questions, in Spanish and English, and wiping her runny nose, she warmed up, so did her parents’ ten-year-old dog.

Her parents and I went to a store, where I asked, “Do you like toys?”

Her head bobbed up and down.

“Good. Let’s go look at some,” I suggested. “You wanna go look at toys?” I asked with my hand outstretched.

More head bobbing.

“We’re gonna go look at toys,” I announced to her mother, and then she put her tiny hand in mine and we traipsed away toward Barbie and them.

We picked over Pepa the Pig trinkets and a box of Marvel bowling pins. “You like those?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said quietly.

“What’s that?” she asked.

“A skate…”

“Issa skateboard,” her mother said. “You know how to use a skateboard?” she had found us and decided she’d show her child around the toy aisle. As her mother showed her how to kick and push, I slowly slipped away because it started to feel a lot like my niece and her mother years ago. It felt like insecurity, as if she didn’t really want her daughter to be with or like me, even though she was and did.

I thought I was tripping, projecting even, until we returned to the house where the mother’s dog greeted me at the door as if we were old friends. He barked for me to pick him up, and feed him the attention he, too, craved and lacked since his doggy parents had had a baby and become mommy and daddy to a human.

He sat on my lap and we played a game where my fingers came close enough to his mouth for him to snap at them, but not really catch them. He barked and snarled and wagged his tail with happiness. Like the toy aisle, where she skated her way back into her child’s view, the mother made cute clicking noises to distract her pet from my lap and from the fun, but it didn’t work. Instead, he settled down right next to my thigh, licked my hand, and then fell into a deep sleep with a slight snore.

My cousin, the mother’s husband, laughed at the sight, and said, “You gotta new Mama now, huh,” while his wife looked on fuming.

Again, I wanted to yell, I don’t want your child (or your dog). I just don’t mind offering a little attention.

But of course, I didn’t say this. Again, I shied away from the dog and the child and made as little eye contact with both.

I hope you hear the empathy in between these narratives: I’m a mother, and I wouldn’t want one of my daughters calling someone else mother. I’ve owned a dog, and I wouldn’t want my dog sidling up to someone else as if he didn’t have an owner. However, I also understand children and dogs. They both need constant attention, something that is oftentimes impossible in today’s busy world. And if I happen to be around for a couple days, I’m happy to offer it.

At the same time, I understand the careful balance of human beingness that has to be in place. I’ll only indulge if everyone is comfortable in the situation, but sometimes, ego makes that impossible.


61 thoughts on “Monday Notes: I Don’t Want your Child (or Dog)!

  1. I don’t really want kids , but I’m extremely humored by them . So much so when I’m around them now I like talking to them ( usually my relatives kids ) and seeing what they’re into . I’ll go color with them or whatever , but yeah kid’s like being treated like people , and if that means being interested in their Frozen dolls , or coloring books , that usually makes them happy .
    And dogs are just funny , they pretty much evolved to have human expressions . The more intuitive ones , like to look at your face since they’re one of the few animals that read human facial expressions.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The attraction children and dogs have for you is no surprise but the jealousy thing is surprising. The more trusted adults in a child’s life the better off the kid will be. It’s proven. I wonder if the level of confidence we have in ourselves has something to do with the amount of jealousy we express? Possibly you were dealing with less than confident parents. I say keep doing you, you’re fabulous, and obviously kids and dogs recognize this about you. Hugs, C


  3. I have the same effect with children, dogs, and horses! I’m sorry that it turned into an awkward situation, but I’m glad I’m not the only one who shares this power! Thank you for sharing 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love how you are sensitive to the parent’s feelings! I do believe that both young children and dogs gravitate towards kind people who give them attention, and that can be such a positive thing. But I also get how parents who doubt themselves can be threatened by that. And that makes it so hard to know how to respond. It sounds as if you’re rather good at it. One would hope that the parents would simply enjoy how their children/animals are reacting to a friend or family member, but that isn’t always the case.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Ann! I agree that dogs and children, especially, tend to know who is ‘good’ and who requires a bit of distance. It is definitely awkward when these interactions go too far, but you’re right…I’ve tried to learn ways to honor everyone involved. It’s not worth the possible fallout.


  5. I have this happen to me too! Children and animals sense a gentle spirit and they gravitate toward us. It isn’t always about them being neglected, as much as it is seeking attention from a person they feel safe with. I have had kids tell me that they want to call me mom, and I found I needed to set gentle boundaries directly with them. I let them know I really like them, but it wouldn’t be appropriate for them to call me mom. Kids don’t always have the same understanding of the meanings of titles, and for them, they’re trying to tell us they feel so comfortable with us as if we were their mom. It is up to us to set those boundaries.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, for sure, each situation is different. These two situations? I think they were similar based on everyone’s body language lol

      I agree about the boundary setting, too. Kids don’t have the language to say, “I like you a lot,” and instead, may end up calling you the closest thing to the feeling they have. However, I did tell my niece that Aunt Kathy is fine 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s good! I’ve had those experiences where I needed to tell the kiddos what they should call me. Thankfully it works!

        Liked by 2 people

  6. It’s because you have a good and kind spirit. 💜 Young kids, animals that always end up sitting at my deck door (leaving me to find their lost humans) and old people – that’s my jam. 🤣

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I think this is about a gift that creates jealousy. Your gift is your ability to create a magnetic safe and loving space for others. Unfortunately, for some people it elicits jealousy and that sounds annoying.
    Just don’t let it stop you, Katherin. Obviously, the jealous ones aren’t capable of giving what you do – and that is why you are appreciated even more!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Kathy, this is me. Dogs and children gravitate toward me. I love children and of course, dogs. Luckily, I haven’t felt any animosity or jealousy from people when I’m around their children or dogs.

    I’m happy this is so, because I tend to shut down and move on & away from others if I feel slighted in the least.

    I wish people could feel what’s truly at hand when things like this take place. It’s only love being shown. Nothing more. Pure love and attention. Bless you for having those qualities to share.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think so. It’s the weirdest feeling. In the first case, they have FOUR kids, so I would think they’d be happy for someone to take one off their hands for a sec, but hey…what do I know lol


  9. I laughed at more than a few places as I read this one because I can relate. Parenting is hard and sometimes when someone else’s child acts like they like you better than their own Mama, I know it stings. I’ve seen it. But it’s easy to be relaxed when you don’t have the investment that they do.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Yes, like that or the cool aunt. I think the problem comes from them feeling judged that they need help, but I’m sure we can all remember those days when we would have paid any amount of money to have a day off if we knew they would be cared for. If I could do it over, I would have paid for more help.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Exactly, Laura! It’s their own self-judgment. I had something similar happen with one of my daughters. She started calling a friend’s mother her “second mother,” and just about lost it, but I had to sit with myself and investigate why that would even bother me. Indeed, it is our own critical self 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  10. It’s quite a compliment to you that children and dogs fall in love with you. My husband has all the dogs we see on walks so excited to see him. He stops and pets them, they lay down for belly rubs. The owners (neighbors) all say the dogs don’t act like that with any other neighbors.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Awww I do the same with the dogs in my neighborhood! I can literally feel them staring me down, like they want to speak, so I always stop and give them all the hugs and pats!

      And thank you for that comment, EA! I agree. Everyone knows dogs and kids feel people’s energy, so I feel like it’s a privilege 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    1. All the way on another continent, too! That is insane. I’m happy you can relate, and I wish you couldn’t relate 😉 People and their egos can be a lot with which to contend.


  11. This is so strange, the dog/tot-mama jealousy that arises. I would hope that if my kids and dog adored you so much, that it would mean a safe space for them, and a fun auntie to play with, plain and simple. You don’t seem like a dog/kidnapper in the least. :p And hilarious to think someone would *want* to take home extra children that aren’t theirs!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. LOL I am definitely not a dog or child kidnapper lol I have enough issues, without taking on others’ situations…this has made me laugh.

      “A fun auntie” indeed! That’s all I wanna be ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Yes. I understand this story.

    This is similar to how I feel too. But in the last few years my need and desire to be left alone has surpassed my need and desire to be liked so well by children and pets that it infringes on my personal space. Kids and dogs never understand the concept of ‘that’s enough now’. 🥴

    It’s a complicated harmony.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. LOL You’re right about that! That’s why I had to feign sleep with the first one. She was not letting up.

      I’m also glad you understood these stories. For a minute, I thought I was losing it.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. It’s a special gift you have. Just because the children and the dog don’t get attention, it doesn’t mean they’ll just approach anyone. They approach YOU. You must be a kindred spirit to them and others, and that is worth celebrating.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Wow great post Kegarland. I can see why you are a special kind person. There is nothing wrong with loving dogs and kids even if they are not yours, it just means you have a beautiful heart. I like dogs too and my sister has one it is so cute

    Liked by 1 person

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