We’re all conditioned to react in certain ways in certain situations. Sometimes this is planned, sometimes it’s instinctual.
Example: the Mom-Arm when driving. You unexpectedly brake, your right arm goes flying out to protect your child in the passenger seat – sometimes when you’re all alone. Conditioning.
The other day, the younger kids were playing at the computer, laughing at Youtube videos, when Gabe grabbed my guitar and started strumming a tune, “singing” to the top of his lungs. Beth and I both instinctively moved into position to thwart Jake’s inevitable outburst.
It never came.
Jake was gone.
We were 15 seconds into our search of the house when Olivia announced that Jake had taken Annie for a walk. While not an unusual occurrence, we were surprised that he had done this without our knowledge. We had been talking in the kitchen, and certainly would have seen him leave. Right?
I took off to the west to look for him, Beth chose north.
I found him first. He was one block over, in a public park. He had Annie on a leash, and was petting her in the grass. He had on my Red Sox hat. I called to Beth and we hid behind a bush to watch him for a minute. Other kids were coming with a dog of their own and we wanted to see what he’d do. He ran over to them, dog in tow, and participated in some sort of social exchange.
We were too far away to hear any conversation that may have occurred. He pet their dog, and didn’t seem the least bit out of his element.
The other kids took off running in a direction away from our house. Jake tailed them for a minute before breaking off and heading around the block towards our place.
We made our way back to the house quickly, so as not to alert him to the idea that we’d been watching.
He came in without a word, tossed Annie’s collar in the bin, and went into the living room.
He wasn’t in trouble.
It’s not unusual for him to take a dog around the block. He may have made his intentions known, or at least thought he did, while we were busy with our own conversation. It wouldn’t be the first time we tuned out a kid.
It was just really nice to see him exercise a little independence, and apparently a little social grace, all on his own.