I scrambled to my feet and saw something I could not stop. “Close the door! Close the door!”
Simone had unlocked the front door and pulled it open. There was no one on the other side, and Ringo, our 8-pound Yorkie, scurried outside.
When I caught a glimpse of Ringo, he was in the middle of the street, chasing the delivery truck, running as fast as has little feet can go. “Ringo! Ringo!” He must have heard me because he ran into a side yard.
A word about Ringo here. On most days, he is a decent dog. When we tell him to stay BEFORE opening the door, most of the time he stays. Without a command and a free invitation, well, he just couldn’t be a good dog and stay put. And once he’s gone, he’s, well, gone.
When I caught up with him, he seemed clueless about what he had done wrong. He sniffed here and there, basking in his new-found freedom. He stood still for a moment and — wait for it — relieved himself before taking off again. I finally laid my hands on him when he visited two little girls across the street. I gave him a stern talking to — I think the speech was for me — and headed home.
Once inside, I turned my attention to Simone. “Don’t open that door. There could have been a bad man (sorry, guys) on the other side and he could have hurt you. And you let out Ringo, and he could have been run over by a car.” As those last words slipped from my mouth, I knew I had made a mistake. Simone bowed her head and went to her room, where I found her sprawled across her bed.
I am all too familiar with this scene. Several decades earlier this is how many “discussions” played out in my house. My father never lifted a hand to me, never needed to, because he could say a few terse words and I would bawl. I still remember how that felt, thinking he was the meanest man on the planet. (He has since mellowed and is such a good Grandpa.) I didn’t want Simone to think I would be upset forever. I wanted her to know I was trying to keep her and Ringo safe.
I scooped her up in my arms, and I calmly explained why it is important to always let Mommy or Daddy open the door. “But there was a package,” she interrupted. I repeated myself and asked if she understood. She nodded yes, and then I did something my father didn’t do when I was a child.
“I forgive you,” I said. “I forgive you. I forgive you. I forgive you.”