Besides being a totally unbefitting punishment for the crime - skinning their tongues, now that makes sense - threatening them with violence is in direct contradiction to everything I feel toward them and how I treat them. Maybe that's why Puppy wagged his tail happily and Daisy pranced around in circles while I said it; they knew my words didn't represent what is in my heart. (More likely it's because they are not the brightest bulbs in the canine marquee and interpreted "I'm going to skin off your ears" as "who wants a treat." But it doesn't matter. Either way, it's a good thing my words were lost on them.)
We all have parental missteps, even my beloved grandfather who raised me. In moments of anger or frustration or fear he would shout out "I wish you were never born." Yup. That's what he would say. But like Puppy and Daisy I would do the kid equivalent of wagging my tail and prancing around in circles because I knew the words coming out of his mouth were in direct contrast to what was in his heart and how he treated me.
I'm not sure why, but one day when I was in my twenties I finally responded to his lovely refrain by asking "Grampa, so what you're saying is you wish I wasn't here right now? You wish I was never in your life? Really?"
All these many years later it still pains me so to picture his sweet face, crumpled and confused, as he realized the depth of the six words he had been saying to me all that time. "Mitzi, aw c'mon, you know I don't mean it. Friends?" he asked, extending his hand waiting for my response.
Of course I shook his hand, and said "friends." He was my friend, the best friend anyone could ever want. He was my father. He was my grandfather. He was my angel. He was a man who from that day forward never, ever wished me unborn again because he realized he had made a parental misstep and was oh so sorry for it.
My grandfather would have absolutely loved my dogs. I love my dogs - every part of them - and would sooner skin off my own body parts than theirs. But my love doesn't make me immune from once and a while tripping along the way.
I am sorry for what I said, and all I can hope is that when I finish typing this and go outside to where they are, they will offer their paw in response to when I ask "friends?"