Being a mother of teenage boys, I wonder at times when I’ll experience a quiet calm again. If we aren’t running 100 mph to some event or function, I am trying to explain why we aren’t going to drive to Wisconsin to buy a used car that he found on eBay which was “just what I have been wanting!” Or praying desperately they will just simply do the chore without a fight. Seriously, do I have to use “approach and retreat” tactics with kids? I know I speak English and I know my boys speak English, but why do we have such a hard time understanding each other?
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always had that “quiet calm” around animals; a way of understanding with few words. I'm not bragging. It is just the way it is. I’ve always had a dog and I’ve never really had to communicate with them verbally to understand what they were thinking or me to them. My Springer Spaniel, Maddie, is aging. She can no longer hear and cries when I get out of her site. I use different body language when I leave for work than if I’m going outside for a few moments. And she knows the difference. I also know when she needs an extra boost to get up the stairs and we have developed a sign language of sorts for meeting our other communication needs.
Bo, the St. Bernard, is John’s “buddy”. He feeds him dog food and from his plate. He calls him, hugs him, and roughs him up. But when evening comes, it is my feet he lays next to. In the winter, Ritz sleeps in Case’s room behind closed doors. But I’m the one he watches and follows until time for bed. And I only have to ask once and they will both pile on my bed. Ritz knows by watching me when we are just going to the barn and when we are going riding. His whole body language changes when he knows we are heading down the road.
I’ve never been a cat person really, but the cats have all claimed me. Pretty Kitty, who was wild as could be as a young cat, became a house cat over the winter. He is very mindful to always use the litter box and I really think out of graciousness for being brought in, keeps a respectful distance from me but is always nearby. Mickey, the one-eyed kitty, was rescued by the boys, but I’m his human. He rides on my shoulders in the barn and has even jumped into the saddle with me once while I was riding. And in the house at night, he cuddles next to my neck. And Tom, the oldest of them all, will only come out of the shed and into the house if I go to fetch him.
The two roosters and Henny Penny see me heading to the barn and they follow. Once I made of mistake of trying to pet one of the roosters. He was right next to me… so close. I didn’t think about whether it would be a good idea or not – just reached for him & boy-howdy, scared him – scared me! I am pretty sure we both said “WTF?” And now we are both on-guard. He is still nearby, but I can tell he is checking me out. Worried about what I will try next.
And the dumb cows? Only one was a bottle calf and tame, but they all let me touch their heads. Even the bull.
The horses; my glorious little herd. When out in the yard, I can feel their eyes on me. I can sense their impatience right now being held up in the drylot when spring grass is so green and visible. I know who to catch first and the order always changes. Pick the wrong one and they may all decide to play the catch me if you can game. And I know when the game is over. I know how to cinch up each horse – all of them different and with varying tolerances. I know that Blue loved his winter blanket this past year. I know that Windy knows she is special. And at any given time, I know at least one of them will lock the bottom of their jowls over my shoulder in a makeshift hug while I breathe in their scents.
All of this communication - this talk with the animals - is done for the most part, without words. Why, when I have the entire dictionary at my disposal is it so hard to find those words to reach that level of understanding with my children. I can formulate the right sentence and say all the right words. I can insert gestures – good and bad - but still can’t reach the same quiet understanding as I do with my animals. As I reach the end of this post, I wonder if perhaps, I should try using fewer words.
(Too tired to proofread tonight... it is what it is....)