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As I move from room to room, two sets of eyes peek out from under the blanket and focus on me with curious intent. No matter what I’m doing, from laundry to cooking dinner to reading to writing, my pups are close by and adoringly observing every activity.

Dixie and Scooter are like most dogs: loyal, affectionate, ready for any adventure that includes their human parents, and bursting with devotion. And like so many baby boomers with children who have left the nest, our pups have become our de facto kids on four legs.

Aging is a surefire way to flip the script on parenthood. One minute you’re changing diapers, and just like that, your children are grown up and bent on changing the world.

A recent visit by both our son and daughter have made it perfectly clear that my husband and I now have an uncanny similarity to Dixie and Scooter. We find pure, unadulterated joy in watching our progeny do the most mundane tasks!

Our son enters the kitchen in the morning. Knowing that he needs some time to wake up, we quietly and enthusiastically watch his actions as he pours coffee, opens his laptop and types away, not quite ready to engage in conversation.

Later, our daughter breezes through the family room, chatting and singing and trying to prod a smile from all of us. We watch her with amusement and wonder.

If thought bubbles could appear over our dogs’ heads, I imagine they would read like this: “It’s been five minutes since I last saw you. I miss you;” or “I need a hug;” or most importantly, “I love you unconditionally.”

Those same thought bubbles appear over my head, and my husband’s, as we watch our children navigate the rich tapestry of life. We have become the spectators and our children have become the players. And as we all grow older, the parent-child paradigm will shift into new territory again. I trust it will continue to bring much happiness and fulfillment.

For now, we do a lot of watching, listening, and adoringly observing every move our children make — just like Dixie and Scooter. After all, parents are a lot like dogs: loyal, affectionate, ready for any adventure that includes their human children and bursting with devotion.

Teri Merrill

Teri Merrill has been writing professionally since 1982. She has recently been writing for her town newspaper.

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