“Shut up!” I shouted. “It’s just Uncle Brett coming home from the gym.”
“Oh, hey Gumbo” Brett announced as he entered the doorway. “Hey Tramp. How are you today?”
“I’m fine. Now get out of my way.” Brett mumbled in his best Tramp voice.
Is it odd that my brother-in-law speaks to the dogs in this manner? Did Tramp really say “I’m fine. Now get out of my way”? Exactly what statement are the dogs trying to convey through their barking? And why am I fussing at them? When I come home to their barking and yell at them to be quiet am I just being a jerk?
“Wow!” declared Tramp. “I love your new shoes. Those wingtips really flatter your outfit.”
“Piss off you son of a bitch” I quickly replied. “Now go lay down and be quiet.”
I think Uncle Brett has it right. However, I can’t help but find myself yelling at the dogs every time they start barking. Why should I yell? I know that dogs bark. I knew that before I had them. I also know that cows moo, pigs oink and lions roar. I don’t have any of those by the way.
When Cade is experiencing anxiety or stress he may start flapping his hands and repeating phrases. Therapists call this self-stimulatory behavior or stimming. It’s a way in which he calms himself. To be honest I didn’t know what to think when I noticed this behavior. My first instinct was to tell him to stop. I didn’t want him to look weird in public. I soon realized why he did it and from that moment on I welcomed it.
Not everyone is quite as welcoming. Let me tell you about a visit to the supermarket several years ago. Cade, Julee and I were shopping. Julee thoroughly scanned the aisle for a jar of grape leaves. It’s one of the ingredients for a dish from her mother’s Lebanese family cookbook. Julee scanned, I stood by and Cade stimmed. A pudgy man in his thirties entered from the far end of the aisle. He was shopping with his two young daughters. The girls had long dirty blonde hair that bounced as they walked a happy step. Their beautiful smiles and matching Hannah Montana t-shirts made me grin. As they approached I noticed the gentleman glance at Cade stimming. Walking by I could hear him mutter to his children, “That kids an idiot.”
For a moment I stopped and asked myself, “Did I just hear that correctly?”
I furiously pushed the shopping cart aside, kicked off my flip flops and ran after the tubby bastard. My face turned red as I clenched him by the collar. I don’t remember the exact words but anything describing a piece of shit was incorporated. I glared him over as I thought about smashing his face into the adjacent cans of okra.
“Who would of thought that a girl like me
Would double as a superstar
You get the best of both worlds…”
Why is Miley Cyrus suddenly in my head? I quickly remembered his children, pushed him to the side and shouted “Go team Miley!” In case you were wondering, the grape leaves turned out delicious.
I enjoyed the lecture I delivered at the supermarket that day. I taught someone that it’s okay for a person to stim. Brett taught me that it’s okay for a dog to bark. I owe Tramp and Gumbo an apology for that. And if someone messes with your kid, it’s okay for a lion to roar.
Please don’t ask what happened at Chuck E Cheese’s.
Kelly Jude Melerine