just realized that while children are dogs - loyal and affectionate
- teenagers are cats. It's so easy to be a dog owner. You feed it, train
it, boss it around. It puts it's head on your knee and gazes at you
as if you were a Rembrandt painting. It bounds indoors with enthusiasm
when you call it.
Then around age 13, your adoring little puppy turns into a big old cat.
When you tell it to come inside, it looks amazed, as if wondering who
died and made you emperor. Instead of dogging your doorsteps, it disappears.
You won't see it again until it gets hungry -- then it pauses on its
sprint through the kitchen long enough to turn its nose up at whatever
you're serving. When you reach out to ruffle its head, in that old affectionate
gesture, it twists away from you, then gives you a blank stare, as if
trying to remember where it has seen you before.
You, not realizing that the dog is now a cat, think something must be
desperately wrong with it. It seems so antisocial, so distant, sort
of depressed. It won't go on family outings. Since you're the one who
raised it, taught it to fetch and stay and sit on command, you assume
that you did something wrong. Flooded with guilt and fear, you redouble
your efforts to make your pet behave.
Only now you're dealing with a cat, so everything that worked before
now produces the opposite of the desired result. Call it, and it runs
away. Tell it to sit, and it jumps on the counter. The more you go toward
it, wringing your hands, the more it moves away. Instead of continuing
to act like a dog owner, you can learn to behave like a cat owner. Put
a dish of food near the door, and let it come to you. But
remember that a cat needs your help and your affection too. Sit still,
and it will come, seeking that warm, comforting lap it has not entirely
forgotten. Be there to open the door for it.
One day your grown-up child will walk into the kitchen, give you a big
kiss and say, "You've been on your feet all day. Let me get those
dishes for you."
Then you'll realize your cat is a dog again.