Cricket sits on Grandma’s lap to share potato chips. For breakfast, she gets the leftover pancakes, or English muffins, on a plate. During dinner, she will stuff her self onto the chair with Grandma and watch her eat, coming dangerously close to licking the plate.
Cricket has favorite foods, like pumpkin pie and Parmesan cheese, but anything Grandma is eating must at least be sampled. A lick of wine from a finger. A pitted olive. A carrot stick. When it is time for Grandma’s midnight snack, Cricket follows her into the kitchen to stare into the well lit fridge and help choose.
But Cricket loves her grandma for more than food. She climbs up on to Grandma’s lap and stretches out, draping herself across until her head hangs off one side and her legs dangle from the other. Cricket watches TV from the lap, and gets her scratchies there, and whispers secret messages that only Grandma can hear.
In the morning, Cricket, who is usually sleeping on Grandma’s head, wakes her Grandma up and leads her to the bathroom. She watches from the floor in the kitchen as Grandma makes her morning coffee. Before Butterfly arrived, when Cricket was an only dog, she would then race down the stairs to the front door and wait for the long lead to be attached to her collar so that, while Grandma drank her coffee on the porch, Cricket could run like the wind across the front yard and feel the joy in the air.
When Grandma leaves the house, Cricket stands by the front door, looking out through the glass panels, radiating guilt as loudly as possible. Then she waits on the second to top step of the staircase and squints down at the front door, sometimes for hours. Eventually she makes do with my lap, but it is not the same.
I’ve always wondered why Cricket chose her grandma as her primary person. Cricket was supposed to be mine. I chose her. I read all of the books. I stayed up nights when she was a puppy. I taught her how to climb stairs and chase sticks. I spent months trying to teach her how to sit, lie down, do a pirouette. But she chose Grandma. I know she loves me, but I also know I’m second best.
And now I have a second dog, Butterfly, who sleeps on my bed and snuggles into my side. And I love it. But I’ve been missing Cricket. And it turns out that Cricket misses me too. She wants both of her people to herself. Even if I am second best, I am still hers. Cricket loves her grandma, but she loves her Mommy too.