Role Changes

by Mrs. Smith on March 1, 2018

So. Getting a puppy. 2 big shifts happening around here:


the youngest child is kind of freaking out about it.

She loves the puppy, but her little world just got turned inside out. She’s no longer the littlest creature in the house, no longer the most fragile.

There’s a “baby” in the house, she can’t control this furry little critter and treat it like it’s her stuffed animal, and -wow- it’s just a massive change for her.

It’s “fun.”

By “fun,” I mean, to use that 4yo’s favorite adjectives, “super mega ultra” challenging.

The constant supervision is pretty difficult. It’s getting slowly better, but emphasis on SLOWLY.


I get to the be Alpha! YES!!!!

That first week with the puppy it was an amaaaaaaaaaaazing shift. I totally didn’t see this coming, but I bet God did.

Good luck, everyone! We gonna change things up!

So, before we even brought Princess home,

Thanks to advice from an awesome neighbor, the kids and I had this lovely little discussion about who’s the boss.

For puppy to feel safe and learn to be a good dog, Puppy needs to know *I* am the boss. Puppy can’t have ten bosses. It’ll be really confusing. She won’t learn as quickly. There can only be ONE “pack leader” or she’ll think she’s the Alpha, and then she won’t learn how to listen.

This made sense to them, Hallelujah. 

I watched to see if they’d honor that set-up, and they did. They were all really good about not bossing the puppy around. They held that boundary beautifully. Good job, kids!

Pretty much immediately after we brought Princess home, however, I noticed that our youngest has that EXACT same problem I’d been trying to avoid with the puppy:
There are 7 people bossing her around all the time,
and she doesn’t listen to any of us.
She thinks she’s the Alpha.


Day 2 of Princess being here, I noticed, wait. Hang on. It’s not just the youngest! Aw dangit,, they ALL have this problem! They ALL micromanage each other, and they have ALL learned to tune me out to some extent.  DANG IT.

Talk about a wakeup call.

When I thought about it, though, it made sense.

After 4 years of my having my brain in a blender, and 10 solid years of pregnancy/nursing infant before it, the kids have learned to fend for themselves. They’ve learned to take care of each other. They’ve done a fabulous job of it, but it’s time to let me be in charge again. It’s time for each of them to feel nice and safe in their position as CHILD and let *me* be a parent.

So I shamelessly used the puppy as the “reason” for this change. I have no idea if it actually does matter in puppy training, but it sure sounds good.

Guys. Listen up.
How can Puppy know that I’m the “Alpha” if none of you treat me like I am?
If everybody else is acting like the “Alpha” all the time, don’t you think it’ll be a little confusing? I’m not a very convincing “pack leader” if y’all don’t listen to me. We can’t have that.

You are actually not the Alpha in this family. Mommy and Daddy are.
You’ve all been demoted.


So then we watched Up and had an awesome time with it, and spent the next week with my nipping their shenanigans in the bud with a quick, “Uh-uh. Who’s the Alpha?”

Beneath all the sleep deprivation,

it’s been fan-freaking-tastic. Under other circumstances, I would never have the backbone to make this shift. I just wouldn’t. And I wouldn’t have seen this dynamic as clearly. Having this puppy here gives me a living, breathing, yapping, adorable reminder that this change must stick. I can’t get lazy about it. I can do it. As much as puppy needs me to be the Alpha, my kids need it even more.

It’s not an easy change to make.

We had some reeeeeally bad habits. Words can’t describe it, and you honestly wouldn’t want me to, but I’m going to anyway. It was so obnoxious. They don’t even notice I’m there sometimes. They’re so good at tuning me out, they will literally cut me off mid-sentence when I’m instructing a child, to deliver the same message I’m trying to communicate. The older kids are especially good at it.

Older kid, “But, Mom, you weren’t taking care of it!”

I’m like, “Um, hello. I was trying to. They can’t hear me with you talking over me that. Who’s the Alpha anyway???”

Older kid, “Riiiiiiiiight.”

Oh, man. On some level, it’s super funny. On another level, utterly obnoxious. On another level, it’s a beautiful thing. It’s such a relief for them to get to take of the Alpha hat and be a kid, even if it’s not an easy hat to take off.

God bless the puppy!

When I described this epiphany/transition to a best-friend-neighbor here, she immediately replied, “Whatever you paid for her, it was worth it just for that.”

I think she’s right.

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