Becky Says...

May 2002

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May 6

When I was a week (exactly) away from my fourth birthday, my father died. This, of course, made quite a few changes in my life. The one I am thinking of today happened almost immediately, but was a temporary change---there were way more people in our home at a time than I had experienced before.

Since I was totally unschooled in funeral customs, I didn't realize this was why there were so many people seemingly always there. Dealing with all those extra people required much use of all the good manners I had been taught. Sometimes that was easier than others. One afternoon, I hit a point where all the coping skills I had developed in my nearly four years were totally used up, to a point where manners were about the furthest things from my mind.

This became apparent to everyone when a friend of my mother's was the last visitor for the afternoon. The lady was asked if she would like to stay for the evening meal. She declined, but didn't take the cue to leave. Instead, she settled in for a chat with Mother. And that was my last straw. I knew if the visitor didn't leave, we wouldn't eat. I knew I was very hungry, and that it was too close to mealtime for me to ask for a snack. So I did the only thing that made any sense to me at the time---I let her know she needed to leave. I took off one of my shoes and threw it at her.

Yes, it hit her, but I don't recall where it hit. I do remember the next things: she left, I was punished, and we ate. I knew better than to think I could ever pull that stunt again, of course, but my mother understood enough to make sure mealtimes weren't further disrupted.

The reason this incident is on my mind today is that we had an office full of people at the law firm, and one extra dog, which belonged to a client. All of Zoe's coping skills and office manners were pushed to their very limits. And she finally hit a point where she couldn't cope. She was barking some, and making her low growl sound at the other dog, who sometimes deserved it and sometimes didn't. Zoe was doing her version of throwing a shoe.

Wendy and I tried several different things to calm Zoe, including at one point me sitting in the floor with Zoe and talking very gently to her as I petted her. That worked for a while, but ultimately the two dogs had to be kept apart. Wendy took Zoe into Senior Partner's office (he's Wendy's husband, and was in the conference room with the multitude), gave her a stuffed toy (woobie), turned off the lights, and shut the door.

That quiet, alone time allowed Zoe to compose herself, calm herself, and take a nice long nap. Those things will do wonders for a girl.

Text copyright 2000-2002 Becky