The one area where I have absolutely no question with this new pup, is that I've grown older. I hope a bit wiser as well, but I can definitely say I'm physically older. I wear out way faster than Argyle does. My patience with some of his craziness is a wee bit thinner. My frustration factor is way higher. Some days, depending on what crazy thing he's done, I worry about a bad confluence of factors....so far both of us have been lucky.
I suppose I started wondering about discipline and how it actually manifests vs. being force upon us. I watch this little dog and realize that I really love him. But, more than that, I'm tickled by his fun personality. He's light and sunny and positive and he makes me smile. He also makes me sigh a great deal and shake my head. But, mostly he makes me smile.
Having never had children, the need to worry about the correct means of discipline was a non-issue. While I have my very considered opinions about children and how they should be en-cultured to society, I've learned to keep them to myself because: a.) I've never had a child so what do I really know, and b.) don't ever tell someone how to raise or discipline their child if you wish to stay in relationship with that person.
If someone asks what I think, I'll gladly share it, but when it comes to children, I try to stay as quiet as I can. I've learned. But, in as much as this is my blog and I get to say what I want, I'm going to break my rule and say what I think. And, when it comes to discipline with children, I'd say we're way too soft on them and worry about their little self-esteem way too much.
The fact is, if we raise an individual to be polite, share, listen, follow direction, understand their limits and the parameters, they will be someone who everyone will want to be around. They will be welcomed into all circles. They will be admired. They will be sought out. Their self esteem will flourish because they are comfortable in their own skin and know how to be a working part of society.
And I know that what I just wrote is way easier said than done. But, I believe that we make it even harder by thinking that we should constantly negotiate our requirements with a child instead of directing them. The right to negotiate is earned. And, it's only possible when an individual has enough experience to be able to have the conversation with you. Again, just my opinion.
So, as it relates to this little six month old of mine, I realize that for the first time, I can understand the murky gray area that a parent faces when it comes to this issue. I now realize that even if you are one who is very clear about the correct way of disciplining a younger being, there is an even more important question that needs to be raised.
The bigger question when it comes to discipline is, how does one discipline another without squelching the natural exuberance and lightheartedness, the independence, the sense of wonder, the individualism?
Argyle can be such a wild thing. Scotties pretty much always flunk obedience school, not because of lack of intelligence, but perhaps because they are very intelligent and so wrote the book on how to be STUBBORN! I think they may have invented it. It takes patience and a firm hand if you want to have a Scottie that people like instead of wishing to aim at with a gun.
I know I am the Alpha in this pack. I know that all of the Scotties are going to consistently test that status. I know that I'm always going to make certain that testing me only goes so far. I know my job is to keep Argyle alive and whole as he crashes head-long into his world without a clue. I know there are times when I'm going to have to shake the ever-livin' stuffing out of him after he's severely crossed the line.
Along with that, though, I now sense that discipline and how intense and how frequently it must be doled out seemed alot more clear when I was younger. Now, I'm just not sure about it and that might have more to do with me not always having to have my own way. It may have to do with me realizing that another being is part of the dance.
Are the issues surrounding discipline and what makes it such a hot button issue less about our sense of the need for it and more about two individuals demanding their own way? I'm beginning to think, maybe so.
Despite my clarity that discipline is critically important, I'm more conscious of the fact that I want Argyle to be a good pet, but not at the cost of his great fun personality. I now realize that keeping a being's personality intact as they learn, is more important than my need to be in constant control of things. Don't get me wrong- I'm not above cracking his butt when he desperately needs it...but now I'm not as quick to think he 'needs' it. More importantly, I've finally disciplined my ego so that I don't delude myself into thinking he 'deserves' to be smacked. None of us deserves to be smacked even when we might need it.
There has to be a balance...I know there has to be a balance. And therein lies the murky gray area.
How does an older spirit help a younger spirit become disciplined AND maintain the silly, fun, chaotic, energetic, creative parts? Perhaps by keeping this question in the prominent place when the unavoidable battles ensue?
If you have the answer, please let me know. I'll be the one running around trying to keep an exuberant puppy alive and well. Most likely laughing like a wild thing as we go.
Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly aka Mommer