On a regular basis, I find myself telling my daughter, Little Miss, to “sit” — mainly when she’s eating. Breakfast. Lunch. Dinner. Snack time. You name it. And the other day, I realized just how much these directives are like commands.
“If you listen to me, I’ll give you your food.”
Seriously. I’ve used those words with her… and sometimes in the next breath, I even find myself saying, “Kafka, sit,” and then toss my stubborn bulldog a treat (as long as he listens). Less words, same message.
I’m not going to lie. I have some mixed feelings about this revelation. Am I training my daughter to “behave”? I guess in some ways I am. And I know she’s listening to every. last. word we say to her. After all, she’s mastered the command, “Go” and pointing to Kafka’s bed when he needs a bit of a “time out” or saying “No” to Kafka when he tries to take something he shouldn’t (i.e., the food from her hands, because she is not. sitting. down.)
Also similar to Kafka, there’s an air of defiance to some of the things she does. She’d gotten quite good for a long period of time at sitting in her high chair and eating without battling with the buckle, so I took it for granted and stopped buckling her in. BIG MISTAKE. As any dog trainer will say, consistency is key. Now, if I don’t move fast enough, she does, and she’ll stand up immediately.
“Sit down,” I’ll tell her. “And then I’ll give you your food.” I think some part of me believes I can reason with her — unlike with Kafka — rather than forcing her to sit.
But then she smirks at me, and sometimes even laughs. And I have to bite my tongue to stop from laughing back (sometimes).
Kafka can be the same way. You want me to go to my bed? When you’re eating that delicious piece of chicken? He then promptly sits, not budging, because hey, in Kafka’s world, he’s sitting, so he’s doing something right.
I know there’s a big difference between Kafka and Little Miss. They both may act like toddlers at times, but at the end of the day, she is growing up and she will — one day — listen to me (maybe before she’s 18?)
Kafka, on the other hand? No matter how many pieces of treats I throw him, he’s probably always going to need that promise of a treat before listening to me. Because he’s a stubborn bulldog, and that’s clearly not changing any time soon.
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