Thursday 24 January 2019

Suzanne Power: A tail-wagging stray taught me not to yell

Somehow, in families, when you're all under pressure and the clock is ticking fast, you take the pin out of the hand grenade and lob.

This morning I brought the house down for very little reason. Later on I went for a guilt trip in the woods and picked up a dog that had been straying and starving and is still wagging his tail at the human race.

I talked to him on my walk about supporting my family and going ballistic in all the wrong places. It's not the major crises. I can always get through those. It's the little things. I get irate when I see porridge bowls standing by the sink waiting for the mild green liquid fairy to make them sparkle. Then I hear the banshee. And she's me.

The answer isn't to yell. No one can hear yelling. They just know they're being yelled at. The little dog knows snarling is only going to get him a kick in the a**e or a lethal injection. So he's being as good as he can, waiting for someone to love him.

And he's making mistakes; he cocked his leg in my kitchen three times. But I didn't yell at him like I did about the bowls and the expletives I found in my son's homework journal because he had way too much homework for one night. After I dropped him off this morning I wanted to run into his classroom and hold onto him and say "sorry".

I've just been at the wake of a wonderful woman. My childhood neighbour Mrs Knox, from two doors down. She has been known all of her life as a kind, friendly, considerate and gentle person. She was more than a mother and wife. All she had went into her family. She smiled all the time.

I want my kids to remember me like that. I don't care that people say more discipline is required. I know that every time I am too tough I get less of a return than when I am gentle and let them know they are loved.

The right thing isn't always kind, but it's better to be kind than right. I was on Midday recently and the panel got uproarious when I told them I apologise to my boys for my mistakes. But it works. They are easy at forgiving because they don't suffer injustice long at home. Like the little dog, or my deceased neighbour, they know the best policy is to accept hurt softly, and wait for kindnesses to come.

A quote from Carl Jung came to me: "Warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and the soul of a child." Whatever age our skin is we are all still children under it. The child in me rescued the dog, against the adult's advice.

The dog was clever enough to choose a guilty woman on a bad day. He was so clever my boys called him Professor. He wasn't clever enough to stop chasing our cat Maeve. So we found him a good home, through our local warden.

Professor is now living with a man who lost his wife recently. Two beings in need of love finding solace. That's why families work, despite the difficulties; we will continue to love one another through life's hardships, through periods where we are unfairly treated and we treat others unfairly. It's called forgiveness and it's bigger than love. I received some this week and I'll make sure to give it back.

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