After Greg goes to work in the mornings, I am occupied with feeding all of the mammals of the house. Since they all communicate non-verbally, I often begin to translate their expressions into an extended conversation to amuse myself for the next 10 hours.
Today, shortly after I strapped Rowan in his high chair and gave him his Cheerios, he signed "all done."
"I just want formula for breakfast, mama. I want out of my chair," he said.
The dogs pranced nervously. "Hey, you have to feed us before the puppy gets out! He pulls our tails while we are eating!"
Ok, ok, I told them both. I poured the dogs' food and gave Rowan a prized piece of double chocolate Crave cereal from my bowl in the meantime.
"More of that!" Rowan pointed excitedly at my bowl.
I gauged the dogs' progress, and as usual, Tracy was waiting until Sahara finished before starting to eat her food. I gave Rowan another chocolate cereal piece.
"Eat your food, Trace, or it'll get taken away."
She lowered her head slightly, caught between my authority and the imagined authority that Sahara claims.
"But I'm not Alpha," Tracy said.
"I'm Alpha and you are both Beta," I replied. "Eat your food."
"Sahara says I'm Omega," she said, opting to eat a stray piece of food from the corner of the room as a compromise.
"Bbbbrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrow?" Sphinx pushed her head under my unoccupied hand.
"EEEEEEEEEEEEEOOOOOOOWW!" squealed Rowan, meowing at the cat. "I will get out of this chair and get the cat!" he declared, pushing at his lap belt and throwing his bottle on the ground. "ALL DONE," he signed adamantly.
Meanwhile, Tracy was using her body as a barrier between Sphinx and her food bowl, and was eating frantically. "The feline will not apprehend my sustenance!"
"Sphinx has never tried to steal your food, Trace." I said.
"That is because I'm so vigilant!" she replied around mouthfuls of food.
"No, it's because the pieces of your food are larger than her whole mouth," I explained.
And Sphinx tried to hide the bright gleam in her eyes that said, "It's true I can't actually eat that food, but I LOVE to pretend to when mom's not around..it freaks the dogs out SO BAD, haha...." But Sphinx continued pushing at my hand and innocently purring until I set about getting Rowan out of his chair.
"AAAAAAAAAAAEEEEEEOOOWW!" Rowan pointed to Sphinx. "Can I pin the cat down and hit her repeatedly? You know, 'pet her?'"
"No, you may not pet the kitty," I said, trying to distract him. "Eat your food!" I reminded Trace, who had stopped to watch us.
"OoohAH!" Rowan pointed to the baby gate guarding the steps.
"No, you may not go upstairs." I wasn't quite ready for that endless aerobics event. Rowan alternated between crying and pointing at the gate and crying and trying to crawl into the kitchen. I sustained this as long as I could. Then it was time to check Tracy's progress.
I put Rowan down on the ground. "AAAOOOAAAAOOOAAAAA!" he announced his presence like Tarzan as he hunted Tracy and her food bowl.
Tracy's eye that was visible over her bowl widened, "The puppy is coming!" She looked at me pleadingly.
"Eat your food or it's getting taken away! One more chance!" I said, resetting Rowan to the middle of the living room.
A second later, Tracy pranced in. "Did you eat your food?" I asked. She sat 'pretty' on just her hind legs. "The real question here is, can I have a treat?" she responded. I rolled my eyes and pushed her away as I do everytime she begs for a nonexistent morning treat. And the circus continued.