Monday, April 14, 2008

"YOURS!"

Children are sociopaths. It's that simple. They think of nothing but themselves. There is little to no consideration as to how their actions or words affect others and so they plow merrily through their day, screaming, yelling, throwing themselves onto the ground in tremendous fits of rage or sadness, kicking, biting and hitting. One child I once worked with, a four-year-old boy, had even honed his skills at stabbing his playmates with plastic forks, not to the point of drawing blood or scratching, only just enough so as to always leave a mark––a series of little red dots, like beauty marks––a fact he was well aware of and had, in a sense, cultivated.

And then there's the concept of sharing, which admittedly, as a child, is a frightening prospect. Even now, my childhood mostly gone, I sometimes struggle with it. Sharing, for a child, is a difficult thing. What if the toy isn't returned? Or returned broken? Why share the cookie? That's less for me and I want it all. I am, after all, the center of the universe! The word "MINE," as screeched by a child has a nails-on-a-chalkboard effect for me. My shoulders tighten, my lower back goes into spasm, my head immediately begins to throb and I want nothing more to do with the wretched thing. It's one of the benefits of getting to play uncle instead of dad: I get to walk away.

I had a friend several years ago who complained about all the people who treat their dogs like children and refer to themselves as Mom or Dad when clearly they are. She'd just had a baby and was––rightfully so!––utterly absorbed by the midnight feedings, the crying jags, the colic, the complete and utter neediness of her baby. She mocked me for complaining about how difficult it had been raising Duncan almost entirely on my own. Ken had brought him home and then went to work out of town four days a week, leaving me with cute red....thing I had to idea how to operate. I was on my own, making it up as I went. I'd never raised a puppy, I had no idea what to do. It was a trial and error experience and one I'm not quite ready to jump into so lightly again.

I've been thinking about my friend and what she said and I don't believe she's right at all; raising a puppy is just as difficult as raising a baby. I was up every night for the first few months, every few hours, to let him out. When he didn't want to sleep alone in his kennel I laid awake and listened to him whine and cry and scratch at the gate. I dealt with vomit and accidents several times a day and wondered if I was doing something wrong, and put my vet tech friends and vet through hell each time he coughed or puked because I was convinced he was deathly ill. Based on how I handled Duncan, I know for a fact I should be the last person allowed to raise a child, which is why I'm perfectly fine with my dog.

Duncan is deep into his threes. There are no temper tantrums, no screaming, no fits (although he does pout if he feels a walk wasn't long enough), and best of all, no "MINE!" If anything it's always "YOURS!" He's perfectly willing to share. It's not always sharing that's difficult. Toys are useless unless someone has joined in playing with them. He doesn't mind one of the cats poking into his water dish or food bowl, or even sneaking into his spot of sunshine on the bed or the floor of the office. He has no concept of withholding anything from anyone, especially his love. Duncan is not the center of his universe, it's whomever he's with that his world rotates around.

Ah, if only we could teach our children to be like our dogs.

4 comments:

Murphy's Mom said...

True True. My baby kept me up nights, got me up early mornings, and made serious messes with his bodily functions...and like every mother, I know it was all worth it.

I also have the bonus of knowing he will never turn to me when he is a teen and say "I hate you Mommy, you don't understand!"

Curt Rogers said...

Good point! And neither of our dogs will wreck the car, need a new band uniform or get caught toilet-papering someone's house.

Lori said...

He's a GOLDEN. I'm not a fan of kids in the first place... but even if I were, I'd still pick a golden every time, despite the fact that they ARE every bit as hard to raise (correctly) as a child.

CJ said...

Well said. And hopefully we won't have to go through those sulky teenage years as we would with a child.
You must brush Duncan frequently for he is so dark?