Monday, July 21, 2014

Not a dog

Yesterday, while climbing Flinders Peak in the You Yangs at the end of a 33 kilometre run, I saw a family hanging out on a grassy picnic area next to the trail. The mum was repeatedly and angrily instructing her ~6 year old son, Fynn, that he was not a dog, while the dad occasionally angrily chimed in "Listen to your mother". Actually, it went more like this (Remember it's all in an angry strident tone. The 6 year old never verbally said anything. He also never once looked at his mum or anyone else, in fact he studiously avoided doing so):
Come over here Fynn! Come here right now. Look at me. Look at me. You're not a dog, you hear me? You don't lap water from a bowl like a dog. You drink from a bottle like a person. Look at me. Look at me. You're not a dog, Fynn. You drink properly like a person. etc. etc.
Part of me wanted to be super useful to this mum by going into my speech pathologist mode. I realised that this probably wouldn't work, and she probably wouldn't find it useful, and also I was very very sore after 32 kilometres and decided to let it go. But it did get me thinking. Possible smart ass responses from Fynn:
  • Yep, and you're not a bitch.
  • Well, actually genetically I'm like 97% identical with a dog.
  • [Panting loudly like a dog]
Possible slightly more useful responses from Fynn
  • Why do you want me to look at you?
  • Why do you feel upset that I lapped water from a bowl like a dog?
  • I wish you'd love me and feel comfortable around me even when I'm silly and slightly out of control.
I actually thought about becoming a dog myself, and crawling over to the family with a big happy dog grin on my face saying "ruf ruf ruf!".  One wonders what would have happened if the dad in the family had teamed up with his son to do just that?

I wish I could have this much perspective at similar times when I'm speaking angrily and stridently to my own children about things that are probably of similar ultimate significance. In fact, I'm going to to make a note of it, and next time I notice myself speaking angrily to my children, I'm going to say to them "You're not a dog, _______ (fill in name here)". Then I'm going to crack up laughing, with happy dog panting in between.  Maybe I'll use this more generally for when I speak angrily.  If you notice me doing this, you'll know now what it's about.