Scary stories from a lovely place
Sometimes when I’m having a hard time with the kids I wonder if perhaps I should have bought a dog instead of taken on human dependents. Obviously this is an unacceptable and dark thought. I love my kids, adore them. And I know that having them is a privilege and caring for them every day a beautiful responsiblity.
But sometimes, just sometimes, when I see people canoodling with their furry canine friends while I struggle along with my two little ultimate fighters I wonder who is enjoying themselves more.
At present we are virtually surrounded on all sides by dog loving neighbours. They love their dogs and they show them lots of affection. They also discipline their dogs and speak to them with voices of firm chastisement. I’ve even heard the neighbours yelling at the other neighbours dogs and seen them taking each others pets for walks. It seems these days that mothers and fathers raise children alone but it takes a village to nuture a dog.
The other day we were having a stressful time in the garden. Either there was only one swing or one trampoline or one spade, and sharing wasn’t favourable and so tears and recriminations flowed. I dragged my little friends inside to more wailed protests and tried to force them to have a shower. The bathroom window was wide open and I knew that my neighbour was just a few metres away in her garden. She would have heard both the indoor and outdoor tantrums. I was aware that I was shouting at Silas as I tried to get him in the shower. As his voice raises I find it difficult not to raise mine. Later, I was embarrassed. I have heard my neighbour get very cross with her dog, and I think I was treating Silas in a similar way.
At some of the local beaches which are ‘off leash’ areas for dogs I again have an opportunity to compare our different situations. At these beaches I have seen doggy discipline at its worst. I have seen dogs kicked, pushed and sworn at. Once a massive dog wouldn’t stop trying to make a small dog the mother of its children and its owner grabbed it by the collar, yanked it up into the air by the neck and slammed it down on the ground.
While I certainly don’t treat my kids with such a hand, sometimes I feel like I talk to them like I would a dog. I give short instructions, often delivered in a gruff voice. I order them around and get frustrated when they disobey me. Sometimes I pull them off each other roughly (is it possible to gently untangle two interconnected wrestlers?) and push them away from each other. I don’t want to treat them like dogs. I want to speak gently to them and treat them with loving kindness. Sometimes discipline feels like doggy training. It’s all instructions and expectations and chocolate covered reward biscuit chews. I want to treat them like people, little people who are precious and a bit fragile (despite the wrestling). And little people who are my friends, who need love and affection, not my raised voice.