My friend Sarah takes care of Lexi, my wonderful but bratty dog, on Fridays when I stay in Entiat to supervise concessions at the home football games. She picks up Lexi from day care and then takes her to the river walk where they enjoy the fall weather, the birds, the outdoors, and the other dogs. Sarah has known Lexi since I brought her home from the Humane Society, so she has watched her grow from puppyhood ‘til now.
Sarah reminded me that 4 years ago when she and Lexi went on their walks, Lexi would frequently growl at the other walkers, human and dogs alike. She was uncertain about her surroundings and a little nervous with the strangeness of it all, and her fears manifested in a type of aggression. But now, there is no growling. She still stops dead in her tracks to watch birds overhead and on the walk, but she doesn’t worry about the people and other animals.
Now my students would tell you that I am too intense, too serious, too focused on making them educated, civilized human beings. “Chill out,” they tell me; or “Lighten up, Mrs. C.” as I worry about treating others with kindness, completing homework and classwork thoroughly, speaking with respect to others, treating everyone with respect, especially themselves. I sometimes think I’m the only one taking seriously their futures as students, employees, parents, citizens.
But Sara and Lexi remind me that sometimes they get there on their own – without a trainer, without nagging, without reprimand. They grow up and they mature and they become civilized and well-behaved and responsible. While I am not suggesting that we allow our children to grow up unattended, unsupervised, without guidelines and expectations, I am saying that sometimes if we leave them alone, they’ll figure it out. But don’t tell them I said so!