Friday, March 28, 2014

Unintended Consequence: Stop Copying Me

Life happens. Things will annoy you. You will be shorted. We don’t get our way, every time. Sometimes, we even lose when we should’ve won. In those situations, I think of Dylan and ask myself, “Would I want you to act like me?” Maybe. But at other times, ABSOLUTELY NOT. 

One thing I’ve learned about being a parent is that it’s a lot more than cuddles, feedings, and providing a roof. You’re showing another human “how it’s done” and there are unintended consequences for how you go about that. Our beagle, Suge, recently had an accident in the house. I was sitting in Dylan’s room with the gate at his door when I suddenly heard a water fountain. Weird, we don’t have a fountain in the house. I listened carefully while Dylan stood at the gate, watching the dogs on the other side. That’s when I noticed Suge was very still…and peeing. 
 
I sprung up and moved Dylan to his crib, jumped over the gate and grabbed Suge by the collar, shouting what a bad boy he was, then dragged him to his kennel and locked him in. I was pissed, another thing to deal with after a long day, and we literally just came back from a walk. There’s no reason he should have had an accident. But that’s exactly what it is, “an accident.” I cleaned up the mess while a confined Dylan cried for freedom. I was still fuming by the time I was finished but I didn’t care, I felt my anger was justified. 

I took the gate down and let Dylan walk around. He immediately ran to Suge’s kennel and began yelling at him. I chuckled a little bit, knowing he was imitating me. Then I stopped, I had an epiphany. I unlocked Suge’s kennel and as he walked out, Dylan tried grabbing his collar and continued shouting. Imitating my anger is not what I want for him and reprimanding his dog in such bad form is an unintended consequence of my reaction. I’ve trained dogs before and I know it’s stupid, pointless, and ridiculous to yell at them, yet here I am going against my better judgment and teaching Dylan “how it’s done.” Mommy fail. 

 I calmly bent over and pulled Dylan to my lap, grabbed his little hand and used it to pet Suge while telling Suge Dylan it was, “okay, it was an accident.” I’m not perfect, I’m no hippy-dippy centered zenster that counts their inhales before reacting- but that doesn’t mean I can’t do better. And though keeping myself in check may prove to be challenging, I’m up for becoming a better person with better tools to pass on to Dylan so that one day I can proudly say, “...and that’s how it’s done boys.”