When I was about 7, I remember my Dad telling me that some people were like my Grandma’s dog, Joda, a sweet and gentle golden retriever. He pointed out that if you asked Joda to do something, she didn’t argue or ask why and so it was better to talk quietly to her. In fact, if you were to be too stern, it would upset her. She heard you the first time after all.
And then there’s Ichi Dog, our black lab. Who ran off every once in awhile to roam the neighborhood looking for garbage, tail high and big satisfied tongue-out pant. Sometimes you have to tell bonehead five times, he said, then he hit me on the back of the head.
Although it’s early days, Gus is beginning to look like he might be a Joda. Quiet and sweet and interested in all sorts of things.
What kind of a joke is this, that I’m meant to raise a Joda? A bonehead I can do. I KNOW how to guide them through. But a sensitive little guy? Lord help me. Lord help him.
This realization has changed a few things for me. Not that I was rough and tumble with him anyway, but I’ve started being a little more gentle. Like walking slow with the pram instead of on the bumpy grass (which is a trick that works, but I think the slow works better).
Last night and this morning, we spent almost 5 hours trying to place him in the cot with the shhing and patting. It just wasn’t working. Thought that maybe there was a kind of breaking point where he would get used to it and relax. Nope. It just made him all wound up and wasn’t the most pleasant experience for us either. (I say ‘us’ because although Charles was sick and couldn’t come in the room to help me, he was wringing his hands in the living room the whole time).
So we took a break today and tried our other tricks like the stroller and feeding him into a coma. And Charles sister, Sally, came by to help too. She said to not try to teach him every time but to pick and choose maybe one sleep a day when he’s happy and rested.
So tonight I had planned to not even try. But then, he stirred in my arms so I thought, ‘what the heck?’, and put him the cot awake… It worked! He didn’t cry immediately so I continued humming my song and when he began to ramp up again I did something that really seemed to work. I breathed. A big deep breath to calm me down. A bit of zen to keep me sane. But how amazing that it had the same effect on him.
Throughout the first 6 weeks, I often thought ‘thank God I do zen’ -because it trained me for the lack of sleep and gave me a huge heap of patience that I didn’t have before. But now I see that maybe it’s my only hope for not being such a bonehead with Gusalumpagus through the next several thousand days.