Curious George and the Puppies

On February 26, 2006 by Eden M. Kennedy

Thursday night it was time to read books with Jackson before bed and I had picked out a small pile of stories I thought might interest him: One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, a couple of old Golden Books, a Shrek comic based on the movie but about ten times more surreal, and Curious George and the Puppies, which is a post-H. A. and Margret Rey Curious George book put out by a faceless committee that appears to enjoy portraying George as some sort of branding solution with aggregated cross-platform framework solutions, i.e., let’s get his face on as many lunchboxes as possible and screw the story line.

We’d just seen the movie last weekend so Jackson wanted me to read Curious George first. Then, as he gets all snuggled into his pillows, he says, real chatty-like: “Sometimes I like to hurt dogs.”

Sometimes I like to shove lit firecrackers up cats’ asses, mom. Would you hand me the remote, please? Seriously, that’s the next step, right? And I’m all, this is the first sign that he’s going to turn into a serial killer. Likes to torture animals. I’m raising The Iceman.

But I keep it cool. Because if you freak out about the freakiness the kid will begin to hide and thus intensify the freakiness and we don’t want a pet torturer on our hands. So I just calmly ask, “Why?”

And he says, “I don’t know. I just can’t help it. There’s something inside that makes me do it. I can’t stop.”

Here’s where my left arm goes numb and I need a warm blanket and a defibrillator.

“Are you angry at dogs?” I ask. I don’t even know where I’m going with this, I just want him to keep talking out so I can look at this from all angles, possibly under the guidance of a professional.

“Just read the story, Mom.”

So I read a few pages of Curious George and the Puppies but I’m so distracted I’m not even listening to myself. I’m one quarter panicked, one quarter wondering where the hell he heard the phrase there’s something inside that makes me do it, and fully one half disgusted at the fact that this pleasant little rip-off of a book has no sense of the anarchic narrative magic that the original stories had. I wonder if Jackson’s a little bored, too, because he interrupts me to tell me again that he agrees with Roger Ebert, although personally I think the movie would have had wider appeal if it was live-action and Will Ferrell actually flew over a lion’s den clutching two dozen giant balloons with a chimp clinging to his face.

And then I have to admit, when I have thoughts about how entertaining it would be to see Will Ferrell eaten by wild animals? I can sort of see where Jackson gets it from.

Anyway, we’re getting toward the end of the book now, and I think it’s clear by now that underneath my stoic exterior I am COMPLETELY DISTURBED by what my four-year-old son has revealed to me. But I can’t help it, I need to hear more.

“So, how do you like to hurt dogs?”

“Oh, I just jump on them, or pat them real hard on the head, or squeeze their ears.”

“Like when you squeezed Katies ears that one time and she yelped?”

“Not that much, just a little bit, like this.” He demonstrates with a slight pinch on my arm. I know he’s not giving me the full-strength pinch; he knows I’m starting to freak out; neither of us is telling the other one the truth. So I just barrel forward and tell him that if I ever see him hurting a dog I will stop him until he learns to stop himself. I’m quoting almost verbatim from Touchpointsand I don’t even care. He shrugs.

I grudgingly read the last two pages of Curious George and the Puppies, where the director of the animal shelter asks George if he’d like to take a puppy home, and George sure would!

And Jackson goes, “I hope he hurts it.”

By this point I’m really, WTF little man! I am frankly pissed off, and I refuse to read him any more stories, I just sit there in his bed with him, brooding, until he falls asleep on my faithless arm.

I tell Jack about it the next day and he says, “He’s yanking your chain.”

I’m all, You think? And Jack just nods and looks at me sadly, a look that says my life is going to be sheer hell when this boy becomes a teenager.

Today I asked Jackson if he still thought about hurting dogs, and he said, No? with that little uptalk swing, like, What the hell are you talking about, Mom? And then he skipped to the playground with his Spider-Man blanket to help make a tent with three neighborhood girls.

My god. Jackson is in preschool. He knows all the state capitals of the original thirteen colonies, and he will bluff me until I’m on the verge of brief reactive psychosis. And then he falls asleep hugging my arm.

So either I’m raising a little Ted Bundy, or I’m raising a normal little boy who is totally honest with me about the vagaries of his growing heart and mind. Or he’s just fucking with me.

Goddamnit. I’m screwed.

But I’ve still got my eye on you, buddy.

I asked him again this morning, if he still thought about hurting dogs, and he laughed and said, “Yes! I still like to hurt dogs!”

So I was all, You know that’s not right, right? And then I thought of something. Are you scared of dogs? And he goes, “Yes!” Is that why you think about hurting them? “Yes!”

So we went through a list of every dog I could think of, to find out which ones he was scared of — Are you scared of Katie? No. Oreo? No. Are you scared of Jasmine? No. Daisy? Jose? Tyson? Angel? Rocky? No, no, no. So who ARE you scared of? And I quote: “Big dogs with fangs coming down.” Like you see on TV? “Yes. Or in your imagination.”

My son wants to hurt imaginary dogs. Today. That’s the story today. We may find out more tomorrow; I can’t decide whether to pick this scab until it bleeds or let it fall off by itself.



84 Responses to “Curious George and the Puppies”

  • HOLY GOD, i haven’t laughed that much while reading a post in a LONG time!

    wasn’t jeffrey dahmer was an animal-torturer as a child? *nervous laugh*

    but seriously, it sounds like the kind of thing my nephew says to get a rise out of people, too. but they usually know exactly what they’re doing. little devils. ;)

  • I just absolutely love the way you wrote this.

  • thank god my kid’s not the only one.

    but to be fair, she likes to hurt us as much as the dogs.

  • Isn’t that the truth. I should keep track of how many times I’ve been head-butted and write a post about that.

  • Wow! I’m speechless and giggling at the same time.

    My daughter – who happens to be four – hurts our dogs all the time. It really bothers me and i explain to her that it’s not nice, that they are going to bite her, i yell at her not to do it… On and on. Yet, she still does it. Just like Jackson said she pats EXTRA hard, or pinches their ears or when she thinks nobody is around gives then a little kick.

    I think i’m speechless because you put into words all my fears, yet also, it’s nice to know i’m not alone with the psychotic child. Maybe we could start a moms club.

  • This is a dream right?Please tell this is a dream.The part where your 4 year old is using curse words and telling you he likes to hurt dogs is a dream.

    This is NOT normal and this is not okay. What normal child would joke like that. I’m really scared, that you’re not taking this seriously.

  • first, that i am sorry, because i would be FLIPPING, and even though you are bendy, i don’t think this kind of flipping is fun; second, that i am grateful, because the way that you are able to face the two equally possible possibilities (is this bad? or am i being messed with? isn’t being messed with also bad? although, okay, less bad… argh!) helps me to be able to do the same thing with my fears; third, that i am stunned, as always, by your ability to be super honest and super funny at the same time.

  • Oh, Lord help you, you have a Complex Child. An intense fate, to be sure. I tend to agree with your hubby, but I’d sure sleep with one eye open–and the dog in MY room–for a while.

    Surely this is all coming from something he saw on television (at someone else’s home, of course, where children are wantonly exposed to such harmful things as television) or heard at preschool.

    Oh, and anonymous? The parts where Henry talks in italics? Those are usually the Mrs. Kennedy-translations of his actual words, happening only inside the head of Mrs. Kennedy. Which, I promise, is not *that* scary place to be. I guarantee you, if there is potential puppy-harming material blossoming here, she will catch and squash it. See, blogs are where we talk these things out, and if you read “the Henry files,” you will know that he is not the sort of kid you would be worried about.

    But still. Mrs. Kennedy will totally handle it if anything’s up. She’s got the antennae.

    And Bella totally drags Delta around by the topknot…and the dog willingly goes, tail a-wagging. We haven’t had any intentional dog-hurting incidents or discussion yet, but it’s good to know that it’s something to watch out for.

  • I was waiting for this to be a dream, a la Dallas.

    Remember the good old days, when our parents would no sooner read us bedtime stories and take us to the movies than eat nails? We weren’t smart enough to fuck with our parents’ heads.

    Those were the days.

  • Um. I think his name is Jackson.

    Anyway, it does kind of sound like he’s screwing with you. Kids can be really smart and they know exactly how to upset mom. I know I did!

  • This is not funny; it is serious stuff. Yes, he might just be playing with your head, but then again, he might NOT. I teach third and fourth grade, which I know is a long way off for you, but if kids keep saying things like that for a few years, some of them start to act on it and it can get pretty scary really fast.

  • It is amazing the the things that come up parenting that you never imagined you’d ever have to deal with.

    Kids are so fickle. Like, maybe he was trying on the tough kid persona to see how it fit. Anonymous could have a point that it isn’t something to joke about but you weren’t doing that. Obviously his comments afftected you and you ARE going to be paying attention to Jackson and seeing if he needs extra love and support about something going on in his life/mind right now.

    You’ve been sort of struck by lightning with his out of character comment and are trying to de-electrify and get your faculties together.

    I feel for you. Parenting is hard. Regardless, I hope this is like many shocking things that happen with kids- a fickle moment of trying something out to see if it fits. My guess is that it didn’t “fit” him and that’s why he said the upswinged “no” when you asked him about it the next day.

  • yeah, i think he’s yanking your chain. its all some kind of weird power/control thing related to you i’m sure, as most things are at his age. and anyway, no worries on the ‘he’s turning into a serial killer’ tip. man, that kid is LOVED, and it takes extraordinarily unloving and extremely unhealthy circumstances to create that kind of fucked-upness, i assure you.

    i know, i just made your monday. you can thank me later. durr…

  • Well. It could be worse, you know. He could be a girl. (Imagine the sociopathic tendencies modified by PMS. Not a pretty picture. Have you met my daughter?)

    Wow, that didn’t come out nearly as comforting as I’d hoped it would….

  • Oh, when you got to the “I hope he hurts it” part I spat out my tea. Jackson & I could hang out. He likes strong red wine, right?

  • Mrs. Kennedy…
    Thanks for sharing. I am sorry to gather comfort from your predicament. I offer a little company to your misery.

    My six year old came to me last night and handed me a comic he had drawn. Every frame of the comic had someone getting shot or blown to bits.
    I sent him down to his father because I didn’t know what to say. He talks about blowing things up all the time, but what do you say…’That’s not very nice’ or ‘If you do that, you will spend the rest of your life in federal prison’?

    He also creates all of these diabolical plans to get back at his school mates for dissing him for what ever reason (elementary school children are always dissing each other, so this goes on all the time).When I tell him his behavior is questionable, he just looks at me like…’Mom, you will never understand what I am going through.’

    I wonder…Am I raising the next UniBomber? He is a really good reader and speller, so when he writes his manifesto it will hopefully become a work of literature.

    Like you, I am glad at least that he verbalizes this ‘freakiness’. Maybe your dear husband it right and they are just yanking our chains…maybe that is a bigger thrill than the freakiness. Take care. Melissa

  • I think you and Jack know Jackson at least a thousand times better than your readers do, that’s why you aren’t freaking out like they are, and you’re absolutely right. Jackson loves Katie! He knows it’s wrong to hurt dogs. If he really wanted to jump on them he wouldn’t tell you about it. He’s a wind-up merchant. I used to pretend to be dead when I was his age. The man I’ve chosen to father my kids has an irreverent, off-the-wall, dark sense of humour, which is why I love him, and I’m sure our kids will be twisted little %$&*s. I’m going to love their socks off too.

  • Ease off the clutch, folks. Life’s too short to get constipated over a four year-old yanking his mom’s chain.

    Which he totally was. Little booger.

  • kids man. they’re cute as hell and smart as sin. they know exactly which buttons to push and they do it. why? because, as everyone knows, pushing buttons and aking people squirm is a lot of fun. i do it all the time and i’m happy to report that no dogs were harmed in the typing of this comment.

  • A lot of times I think kids hear something from another kid or from television that seems to get a reaction that they find interesting so they repeat it. There was something every other week or so when my son was younger. The great thing is that once they get to be about thirteen or so you can begin saying things to disturb them. For instance, all I have to do is utter the words “blow job” and my son would just about die of the embarassment of it all.

    (p.s. my son is 18 and he is well-adjusted and mentally healthy)

  • You gave me a much needed laugh this morning. Thank you.

  • So this is what I have to look forward to. It’s admirable how you managed to keep your shit together–I hope I’ll be able to do the same.

  • That was perfect. I would have had the exact same thought process.

  • “WTF Little man!” Indeed!

    And yeah, he’s on his way to becoming a teenager, and the vocabulary and the imagination only get more colorful and vivid.

  • Boys. That is you answer. My kids (all boys) have said and most likely will say some fucked up shit, like “I’m gonna kill (name of little brother).” Thing is, that was 6 months ago and little brother is still alive, so unless the middle kid is planning way ahead, it’s just something he said to express how pissed off he was at little brother. Of course, we told him that’s not something he should be saying and why does he feel that way etc.

    -the patriarch

  • On the one hand, you’re screwed because he’s four and wicked. On the other hand, you’ve got it made because that kid is wickedly funny and wouldn’t it suck to have given life to someone with a crappy sense of humor?

  • wow, I guess you’ve hit upon another topic that reels in the comments.

    Hey, Jackson is a smart kid, so he’s realizing that he can manipulate to get a specific reaction. That sounds bad, but is really just another exploration of the human condition. Didn’t we all push our mothers buttons? Is this really a generational thing? He just happened to pick something that has worrisome undertones, which is probably more of a testament to how well he knows you and how hard he wanted to push that button than any foreshadowing of psychosis.

    I hate to say it, but being able to size up a person/situation and figure out how to get what you want/need is actually a pretty useful tool in life, as long as you’re not immoral about it.

  • Kind of related, but did you see this bit of news related to Curious George right around the day the movie opened? Crazy world.;=2/10/2006&tdate;=2/10/2006

  • Wait, was that an Auden reference? With the “faithless arm”? I am loving you more and more.

  • It was, and I’m still sort of sorry for it.

  • this is a learning thing. jackson isn’t screwing with you (he’s too young to screw with you in quite that dramatic a fashion…trust me, it’s coming… but not yet!), he’s testing you–kind of. this is what kids do. part of him enjoys having that kind of power over katie (and other dogs) but part of him absolutely knows it’s wrong. so he tells you, because he feels safe with you and he trusts you to help him figure things out. you don’t have to make a big deal out of it… but you’re quite right not to ignore it, either.

    actually, your response was right on the money. it’s not okay to hurt animals is perfect. (when my son was 3 he tried to put a tinker toy down his 8 day old brother’s throat… which is when i got to have the we never ever put things into the baby’s mouth/ears/eyes/butt! conversation. sigh. but it was fine… and that never happened again).

    kids are curious. and that’s a good thing. the fact that your kid comes to you for approval and/or direction is an even better thing. you are not raising the next ted bundy. (you’ll know if you have a problem if he’s still hurting animals when he’s 13 and truly old enough to know better)

    he’ll be fine. and, eventually (hopefully), you will be, too! : )

  • Yeah, that was my feeling, that he’s a little too young to start playing mind games with me, but I hope you’re right and that he does trust me enough to tell me what he’s feeling, that’s so much of what I hope to achieve as a parent, gaining and keeping his trust.

    (BTW, puppytoes, I’m reading Team of Rivals, too, and digging it.)

  • When Mallory was 2, she used to constantly hug our cats and dogs to death. I really think these weren’t so much “I love you” as “I will dominate you until you can’t breath.” The dog bit her all the time. She has the scars to prove it. The cat never did anything but cry this horrible “mew” that sounded like Richard Simmons was dancing on his tail. One day I yelled at her “Stop fucking with the cat!” A year later she was sobbing one day. I asked why and she said the cat had bit her. I asked why , she said “Because I like fucking with him.”
    By the way, she is 14 now and a total animal lover. Vegetarian, won’t wear leather, and is organizing a concert to benefit an animal shelter.

  • mrs. kennedy, as far as i can see, you’re on the right track with your son… and i can totally relate to your goal to be an approachable parent, that’s always been my goal, as well. i like to think that’s happened. in fact, our boys are pretty much grown (21 & 25 count as grown, right? even if they still live at home? sigh) but we still enjoy a very open and honest relationship with them both.

    of course, the good news about being approachable parents is that our sons have always come to us with their problems (and over the years, some of them have been pretty dang weighty). the bad news? sometimes they tell us things we really don’t want/need to know (sexual matters come to mind here!) still, i’m happy they continue to confide in us. and i hopehopehope i can always be that kind of a mom. (tho’, i really won’t mind being “that kind of a mom” from afar… ya know? like when they’re living in different towns and/or states??? kidding. i kid)

    psteam of rivals is really interesting/fascinating… i just wish i had time to read it during the day, instead of at night, ‘cuz i can usually only get through 3 or 4 pages before i fall asleep. at this rate i may finish it by next year! yikes! (i’m on a bit of a civil war-period reading-roll here, i just finished the march and my husband gave me manhunt for valentine’s day… which i can’t wait to read!)

  • When I was about six I had this giant teddy bear that used to freak me out. I loved it, and yet it upset me greatly. One day I must have done or said something really weird regarding this teddy bear because my mom asked me what the fuck was wrong with me. My explanation was that “I loved it too much.”

    I still have no idea what that meant or what my deal was with that stupid bear, but my point is that sometimes little kids say totally weird things.

  • I feel for you. Our (almost) 4 year old keeps us on our toes as much as Jackson keeps you on yours.

    FYI, the Curious George ether episode is from “Curious George Takes a Job”, not “Curious George Goes to the Hospital”. (I’ve become intimately familiar with the latter, as it is very popular in our house. I’ve read it a dozen times too many.) I had to search a bit to find the correct book, but there’s an Amazon review of CGTaJ that mentions the ether incident. (It also mentions an apartment painting episode that must have inpired that scene in the movie.)

  • I agree that he is to young to premeditatedly mess with your head. My guess is that the original statement of “I like to hurt dogs” was the simple and honest truth. And pretty common to most little kids. Sometimes they get a cool little rush over being the dominant one in a relationship and so they squeeze the kitten, or pat the dog too hard, or pinch the baby, or hide your car keys in the furnace vent.

    But I’m also going to guess that once he discovered that it freaked you out a bit, he thought that expanding on the theme might be a fun thing to do! My advice – do not focus on it. In fact, never ever ever mention it to him again! And if he brings it up or you see some signs of it actually happening, I’d discuss with him some other options for when he has those kind of power/ragey feelings. Like, come and talk to me, stomp on a STUFFED dog, draw an angry picture…you know, safe outlets for his frustration that won’t lead to a visit from the SPCA!

  • Holy Shit. That’s scary because it kind of hints at the inherent cruelty of humanity.

    Good luck to you on this one, I’ll keep reading to see how this turns out!!

    Best Wishes ~ Josephine

  • Hold me. I’m scared. I don’t know whether I’m scared of your potential young serial killer or scared that I have so little time until my son starts messing with my head so dramatically, but definitely scared.

  • You want scary? My 2-year-old has lately taken to putting a pretend gun in her mouth and saying, “you’re all gonna die!” She got it from this:

    Of course, I’m the idiot who let her watch it in the first place…

  • I just went to a mostly useless parenting workshop yesterday, but one of the things I got out of it is that kids like to effect change on their environment. So they run little experiments to see what happens. So maybe that’s part of what’s going on? Jackson likes to see what happens if he pulls the dog’s tail or if he squeezes his ears real hard or whatever. Or he likes to see what happens when he says something mildly outrageous to you. Just a thought.

    I also think you might have hit on it(something?) when you asked him about being scared of dogs.

  • Wow – you kept your cool like a professional! My Little Man is not yet a year, so I have no real-life experience with this sort of thing, but having read Touchpoints, I have a thought to offer: I think Jackson just wanted to check and make sure you love him unconditionally.

    I agree that he’s too young to knowingly mess with your head, and I am sure from his descriptions of “hurt” he doesn’t mean “really hurt” in the sense that one might fear. I think he wants to know that no matter what kind of weird stuff is going on in his head, you will be ever-present and ever-loving.

    Digressing here to ask if you have seen the pbs doc “Raising Cain?” This post reminded me of the segment in which they discuss young boys’ propensity toward having things/people “die” during play – even though (perhaps because) they don’t truly understand the concept of death.

    Keep us posted (har har) on the developments! Love your writing!

  • Yeah–absolutely, he is both trying to get attention and trying to see his effect on his universe: You.

    After 9/11 my then-4 year old kept talking about Osama Bin Laden and his preschool teacher said he was negative and scaring the other children. I was similarly MORTIFIED. It took my childless brother to explain that it was all for attention–all to get a rise out of someone. And you gotta admit, it works!

  • And I always had a fear of having a girl because I thought they were the psychological ones: oy.

    And hurrah for a mom bringing up with an appropriate sense of literature: what is and is not acceptable to sell out to. It’s like saying Peter Pan’s parents are out on holiday or making Mary Poppins nice (she’s a cranky ol’ creature in the books).

  • I’m 28 now, but I remember having those kind of thoughts when I was really little. I never did hurt an animal, but I remember feeling very guilty about the thoughts. Growing up is hard, and there’s a lot of thoughts going on in a little head like that. An animal is the only creature he has the power over, and humans are made up of both good and evil. If he had younger siblings he’d probably give them an extra pinch instead. It doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with him, kids do stuff like that all the time. These thoughts are sure to pass, I know they did with me. I really wouldn’t worry about it too much. Just make sure to give him lots and lots of love to make him feel secure and ok.

  • THANK YOU for writing about this. Now that the little angel is almost two and speaking in more understandable sentences, I’m baffled that she has probably been meaning to say exactly what she is saying this whole time. And some of it does not make any sense to me at all.

    It’s very refreshing to hear other parents admit the odd things their children are doing. It takes a village to keep a person from going insane.

  • you’re brilliant to have figured out that he might be afraid of a scary dog. i think i would have gone directly from ‘i want to hurt dogs’ at storytime to incarceration in a juvenile psychiatric institution. but i’m a mother of a girl. (like that makes my overreacting any better. *hollow laugh*)

  • Did you know the Rey’s escaped Nazi occupied France on bicycles?

  • I put a fancy barrete in the Bean’s hair. Daddy comes home and comments. “You look so stylish!”

    About an hour later, we’re eating dinner. And Bean is just poking at her food. My husband got a bit annoyed because she’d made a fuss about being sooooo hungry and it was a meal she likes. He got on her a bit and she calmly looked at him and said, “But I’m stylish!”

    I’m too am screwed.

  • A friend of mine accidentally killed three out of four kittens by strangling them when she was a little girl (2 or 3). Her mom asked her why she did it she said she squeezed them to see the pink tongues stick out and then she could pet the tongues. She’s the sweetest gal I know and wouldn’t hurt a fly. (Folks, she ACTUALLY killed them!!!) I think Jackson is okay. It could just be curiousity. I really hope I can handle myself as smartly when I have kids as you have Mrs. K.

  • I understand your pain. Last Christmas my 3.5 year old told me he would really like a ‘people gun’ next Christmas ‘to shoot people’ (thankfully he told Santa that he wanted a fire truck). Another time, after a little boy at his preschool had been nasty to him, he said that I should ‘run him over with the car’. In both instances I silently freaked out and began panicked-but-subtle interrogation to try to establish what was going on in his crazy little brain. Talk about a fruitless exercise.

    Now he’s all about “look at that little baby spider/lizard/bug. Isn’t it cute”. “No mummy don’t crack the egg (as in, for scrambling) it’s scared and it wants to find its mummy. No mummy! NO!!”

    So my view is that it’s a mixed up time. They are not evil, they just don’t understand the consequences/gravity/disturbingness of the stuff of which they speak.

    By the way, I have a friend who wanted to take his child’s new puppy to school (first grade) for show and tell. The teacher wasn’t keen “Actually, the kids might kill the puppy” Friend giggles. Teacher: “No really, they really might kill it”.

    Kids – they’re cute!

  • My oldest (now 13) at the age of 5 or 6 enjoyed stepping on toads and would squash countless ladybugs, worms, etc. It totally freaked me out and I would be all loud and in his face about how horrible what he was doing really was (the poor toads were the worst). I never seemed to get through to him. I believe that the only reason he didn’t do it too often was because he got punished (no t.v. or whatever) and not because he understood that what he was doing was wrong. He told me it was “fun.” The advice I got from my brother-in-law was that his boys at that age (normal adults today) did exactly the same types of things and that it was nothing to worry about…a “boys will be boys” mentality that I really abhor, BUT he appears to have been correct (at least within our family). My son turned out to be quite empathetic and compassionate and I don’t have any worries that he’ll turn into a serial killer anymore. I agree that children at a young age don’t really understand the consequences of their actions and hurting something or the death of something really has no impact and, also, your child probably really is pushing your buttons to some extent just because he can. As long as you don’t condone unacceptable behavior, you’re on the right track.

  • My nephew has killed two of the ducks that live in a stream near his house. He would pick them up, and then fling them back down, thereby breaking their poor duck necks. This understandably Freaked Our Shit Right Out, but then I remembered inflicting some damage on the household pets when I was a child (although not actual killing, I have to say). When I brought this up, almost everyone had some similar story. And this can mean either that we are a family of thwarted psychopaths/sociopaths, or that all kids have a problem with understanding consequences and empathizing with their pets. And that the potential for this behavior exists in every human, and that it’s our job to ensure that our kids know that it’s wrong to hurt weaker beings. Then, if they do turn out to be mass murderers, we are absolved of that pesky accessory to murder charge. Kidding.

  • Oh my god, I am so not ready to be a parent. You handled the whole thing so well Mrs. K. Really.

  • I’ve got a couple things rolling around in my mind on this. First of all, and this is probably just the freshman psych talking, kids under the age of four or five genuinely don’t UNDERSTAND what it really means to hurt things/people. They just don’t get it.

    The other thing that came to mind is this girl Johanna I used to play with at my brother’s baseball games. She had this kitten that she brought to the field one time and she wanted me to play catch with her. The kitten was the ball. I did this a couple times and then got freaked out and wouldn’t do it anymore. After this she commenced just throwing the cat as far as she could and then running and grabbing it and doing it again. She was probably six or seven at the time.

    Far as I know, she turned out all well and good. Jackson is most likely FINE. Just keep an eye, you seem like you’ve got a perfect handle on your devious little boy ;)

  • Why didn’t you just slap the little fucker silly and duct tape his mouth shut and throw him in the basement and scream, “HURT? I’ll Show you HURT!”

  • Holy shit — based on your story and all the comments, I am SOOOO ill-equipped to be a parent! Thank god I’m NOT one! Sheesh!

  • Heh, my son threatened to kill me for not taking him to the DQ. My favorite line was the one about Touchpoints. Sunday must’ve been a serial killers kind of day.

  • We have “Curious George and the Puppies” as well as some of the originals. Lately, CGatP is the hands-down favorite. Then again, my toddler loves dogs.

    You know, I used to hurt my poor pet dog, and I grew up to be a good person. I used to bite the poor thing’s ear, and she yelped and yelped! I can’t believe I did that. I was probably about 9, and I totally loved her too.

    Either kids just do and say weird things, or Jackson and I are both psycho.

  • All I can say is “god bless, and good luck!”


  • You know what struck me most about this post?? Jackson knows his states and capitols?? OMG My 4 year old is so behind.
    I think it’s normal for kids to pick on their pets, it may be a control issue who knows. I bite our chihuahua’s ears from time to time myself, just because they’re so cute.
    I love you, Mrs. Kennedy. You’re a great mom, don’t let anyone make you doubt that.

  • oh my god. I am sitting alone in my office. And I just laughed out loud. Really loud. Thanks, now everyone outside of here will think I’m a freak.

    Funny story…

  • I think it’s great you wrote this post. I’m pretty sure most of us would be too horrified to tell our best friend, much less the entire internet. That said, it really is probably nothing. Jackson seems like a really sweet kid and you are very attentive parents. Anything scary that might crop up, I’m sure you will quickly nip in the bud.

  • I remember when I was 5 or 6 and we had a neighbor, a little girl, who was a year or so younger than me. One day she confessed to me and my mother (well, it wasn’t really a confession, it was more like she was just letting us in on what went on in her little head) that she sometimes couldn’t stop herself from squeezing her hamsters. She demonstrated by pretending to squeeze something in both hands while squinching up her face. Even though I knew it was wrong, and something I would never act on, I remember thinking that I understood her impulse as much as I was disgusted by it. I think Jackson’s just a very self-aware, articulate little boy, and he was saying something out loud that he’d though about (or heard) to see what kind of weight it had. Which doesn’t mean he won’t pinch or kick sometimes, but I doubt that it’s malicious. He’s still working out what’s wrong and what’s right. He’s only four after all. If he was a 10 year old saying that, then I’d be a little concerned.

  • My neighbor used to torture kittens and frogs and puppies. He was about 4 when he started. He would find old rusty wire in back of their garage and impale the animals, ALIVE on it and jiggle them until they died. Everyone was horrified, nobody did anything. I saw him a few years ago at a reunion party for the neighborhood. He had the most evil, dead eyes I’ve ever seen in a human. He frightened me. He’s in the military, now, some kind of secret overseas operative. Any guesses how many people he’s tortured and killed? More disturbing than his antics was the fact that none of the grown-ups did anything about it while they still could. More disturbing than that is the sort of milk-toast namby-pamby enabling kissy-butt response YOU got from your gentle readers. What is WRONG with all you people? They are sooo supportive of little Jackson’s ideas to hurt Katie! How NORMAL of him! Well, I LOVE Katie! She’s the helpless future victim in all this. And I’m not all that soothed by your husband’s nonchalant attitude that J’ is just jerking your chain. Men ALWAYS think boy-violence is cool and fitting. Take your child prodigy to a battered animal rescue shelter, and give him a HUGE frightening dose of reality. He’s old enough to hurt dogs, he’s old enough to learn the lesson. Sorry if this post can’t be all mushy-mushy.

  • It’s going to be fine. I remember when I was about 5 or 6 years-old I had a conversation with my mother that freaked her out to no end.

    Me: “I know how to make a baby be good.”

    Mom: “Oh yeah, how?”

    Me: “You hit them with a flyswatter!”

    Mom: [horrified look] “WHAT? What do you mean you hit them with a fly swatter? Why would you hit a baby with a flyswatter??????”

    Me: [about to cry] “Miss Rose does it…”

    Mom: “Jesus CHRIST!”

    I think that was the last day I ever went to THAT babysitter. How was I to know that I was witnessing child abuse?

  • Ok. That’s it. It’s official. I refuse to have kids.

    I guess the good news is, I used to hurt dogs when I was little. The better news is that I stopped. The best news – for all the dogs of the world – is that I’m not going to have kids now.

    What a chilling tale. I think the blood drained from my face completely.

    I did a google search on “Why do we torture animals?” – but only found animal testing kinda stuff. There’s likely scientific study, like the one where people were allowed to electrically shock another person, and asked not to go over a certain level of electricity. Apparently a bunch of people totally turned it up.

    I think it’s because we’re mammals. But I always chalk behavior up to that.

    It seems there is always pleasure to be had in another’s pain. Why else would “All in the Family” have become so popular? Besides the political ballsiness, I mean.

    I digress.

    Best of luck with your tiny psycho. It’ll be alright.

  • I used to kill caterpillers and pull the legs off of daddy long legs.
    Now, I’m 22 and most of that negative engergy is focused on contemplating injuring tourists and stupid people.
    He should be fine.

  • “Dachshunds are ideal dogs for small children, as they are already stretched and pulled to such a length that the child cannot do much harm one way or the other.” -Robert Benchley

  • The anonymous commenters are always the bravest. And they always want to characterize any reader who relates to the post as an ass-kisser. You want to disagree, disagree, but don’t fool yourself into thinking that that’s the only honest response.

    Also, I just tore the head off a monkey. For kicks! And now your readers are making me think that’s bad.

  • A chimp, or one of those lemur things? Just curious.

  • A tamarin. Obviously.

  • i can in no way claim to be an expert, nor am i a parent, but i do work with kiddos with mental illness and other troubles so i have a few thoughts… i think you are handling this situation wonderfully, and most importantly, you are creating a relationship with your son in which he feels comfortable talking to you about all those screwy little thoughts that he has, and ALL humans have, twirling around in our highly evolved mammalian brains. sure, when we look at the diagnoses for antisocial personality disorder (think ted bundy and friends) and conduct disorder (future-serial-killers of america) abuse to animals in childhood always pops up as a pesky little harbinger. but it does not act alone as a definitive predictor of future psychosis or delinquent behavior. the most important thing in preventing a child from turning into a screwed up adult are factors of resiliency, and from the little i know of your son, he has tons. he is smart, funny, has loving parents, a roof over his head, and food in his belly. of course it is important to look out for any harm he may cause the dog, intentional or otherwise, but in the big picture, i think you are doing a bang-up job and have little to worry about with this one, mrs. kennedy.

  • That was beautifully and hysterically written.

    You’re a smart lady. You reacted exactly the way I would [and have] in equally bizarro~imaginary scenarios. I have a 4 1/2 year old little guy, plus two older girls, but my little guy is the most “curious” in terms of his behavior. And four not being old enough to fuck with your mind? Hmmm. I completely disagree.

    Don’t pick at the scab. Let it just fall off.

    Jackson’s fine. Little cutie-let’s see what reaction this gets- smarty pants.

  • Perhaps Jackson (aka Stewie Griffin ;) ) is, in some way, trying to distance himself from Katie because of her recent trips to the vet. He could be telling himself “stupid dog” and squeezing her ear a little harder than normal as a way of telling himself that she’s *just* a dog and not someone very important to him, someone he’d miss and who is wearing his underwear.

    The way they curl up together, she’s almost his sister in the household and he’s a smart kid (from what you share); she’ll be hard to lose one day.

  • I love how the ones who have negative things to say never have the balls to put names on their posts. Thanks anonymous, all of us pansy-ass commenters aren’t worried at ALL and believe that it’s all boys will be boys. I believe that sometimes, yes, stuff like this CAN be a warning sign. But Jackson isn’t skewering animals on sticks. And I’ve watched a lot of specials on serial killers. If there’s one common thread I can find it’s that they come from problematic families. From what I’ve read Jack and Mrs. K are taking great care of their little button pusher. Next time you wanna blast someone, or fifty someones, at least have the courage to post your name!

  • Scary shit.

  • This is not funny; it is serious stuff.

    This is NOT normal and this is not okay. … I’m really scared, that you’re not taking this seriously.

    I agree with these statements completely. Animal abuse is never, ever funny, even if he’s not being serious. You need to, as you put it, pick this scab until it bleeds because leaving this along is not worth Katie being in pain (even if it’s just pinching).

  • I think it is so funny that some of the people here seem to think that because a person who is dropping by, maybe, or just always anonymous for reasons of his/her own, is somehow ‘ball-less’ because they post their opinion anonymously? Why attack an anonymous poster? Is that the real issue? I’ve seen plenty of anonymous posts that are friendly, also. I just think that is skewed logic, to say that it is because a person is posting anonymously they are somehow more full of false bravado or more negative than someone who uses a name. Who is to say that half the ‘names’ used are real, either? Anyway, I love the Fussy blog, am a great fan, always post anonymously, and in this case..well, I am a little worried that Katie is going to be having puppies around a boy-child who has some interest in inflicting pain on dogs. Hope that’s not too negative for the ‘blamers’ to hear, God Forbid I get blasted–not for content–but for anonymity.

  • Just found your blog.Enjoy it so much. Keep writing and posting pictures.

  • I was hanging on your every word.

    And then I remembered that my two year old daughter pulled our pups ears and then announced she was giving herself a time out.

    (clearly she knew it was wrong and couldn’t help herself… What is the deal?)

  • Hey there. Nobody seems to have commented that Jackson said he LIKED to hurt dogs and he WANTED to hurt dogs, but there aren’t any ACTUAL hurt dogs. Repeat after me, anonymi: fantasy is not reality. Fantasy is not reality. Jeez.

    So, OK, until 6th grade I put ants into water and watched them struggle and then staged a heroic rescue where I pulled them out and let them dry off in the sun and then sent them on their way. And so far, so no psycho. But maybe I’m not your best informant. My kid is a month old and only likes to torture my left nipple.

  • I knew when I left comments open for this that I’d get it from both sides, and that’s okay. Jackson and I have had several good talks now, a couple of them initiated by him, and I feel that Katie’s safe in his presence. I’m closing comments now but if you have something to say go ahead and e-mail me. Thanks for all the thoughtful response.