Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Canine Jealousy and Childhood Curses

As someone who has struggled with varying degrees of jealousy over the course of her lifetime, I am highly qualified to detect it in others. Strangely enough, the jealousy I have been witnessing in spades lately has not been harbored in a human, but in the animal members of my family. More specifically, Cleo (my female lab mix) is wildly jealous of MoJo (my male tuxedo cat).

Maybe THIS is why Cleo is jealous.  I'm just sayin'...

Cleo simply will not abide either me or Jeremy giving attention to MoJo in any way, shape, or form. If we lean over to pet MoJo, Cleo runs over and inserts herself between person and cat. If MoJo is on a lap, Cleo will put her face on said lap and look up adoringly at the owner of the lap. If MoJo goes anywhere near Cleo's crate, Cleo heads her off at the pass, runs inside the crate, and protectively picks up whatever random toy happens to be housed in the crate at that time. This exact scene played out just moments ago, and Jeremy I dissolved into laughter, especially after I called out (in a Cleo voice, of course), "Hey! All my STUFF is in there!!"

This reminded Jeremy of childhood, as he says the last thing he and any of his brothers (there are four of them altogether) said before they left the house for an extended period of time was "Don't touch my stuff!" Jeremy said he would also implore his mom to make sure none of his brothers "messed with his stuff." As he explains, one brother was notorious for borrowing clothes and never returning them, and one was unfortunate enough to still be remembered as the brother who knocked over the cup of dirt Jeremy had secured from Tiger Stadium. Why any child who shared a room with three brothers would imagine it prudent to leave a prized possession where it could be knocked out of a cup and lost forever is beyond me, but I am a girl, so what do I know?

Back to Cleo's jealousy issue. It has apparently become so overwhelming for my poor little pup that, just a moment ago, Jeremy leaned over to kiss me while I was laying on the couch, and Cleo actually ran over and inserted her entire head between our heads. This situation is comical enough on its own, but the most fantastic part is that it just so happens I used to do the exact same thing whenever my parents kissed, hugged, showed any form of affection, or even got near one another. Granted, I was only a toddler, but the jealousy overwhelmed me. I simply could not understand why my parents would choose to give affection to someone who was not me. I mean, I was right there, in their line of vision and everything, and they were not showering me with kisses, hugs, or affection, and were instead directing it toward each other. Ridiculous.

For this and various other behaviors, both of my parents cursed me. I cannot count how many times I heard the phrase "One day you will have a child JUST LIKE YOU!" Sometimes the curse was comical, but more often than not it came on the tail end of a good old meltdown. (For the record, I never took this comment as an insult, and even looking back, while I can understand why some people might find this non-life-affirming or detrimental to a child's emotional well-being, I did not consider it as such. Most of the time, I just said "yeah right.")

I was not, in fact, the mild-mannered and easy going child you might imagine me to be. On the contrary, I was often described as "dramatic." Whatever that means. The problem was, I just had A LOT of emotions. And situations generally felt life-threatening. And people just did NOT understand what I was feeling. All of this didn't begin in adolescence. It began in toddlerhood ... and continued on until ... well, that depends who you ask. I feel I have grown leaps and bounds from my tear-fueled, ranting, stomping childhood, but I must admit I am still a bit dramatic. When Jeremy asks me if I want a particular food that I dislike, I feel the need to be honest with him and tell him "the thought of that food makes me want to VOMIT." The thing is, I don't say this to be dramatic. I don't say that when I actually mean "Meh. I don't feel like that right now." If I say the thought of that particular food makes me want to vomit, then the thought of that food makes me want to vomit. I am not an exaggerator (in this instance, anway), I just have an abundance of strong emotions that simply cannot be quelled.

At any rate, I find it funny that the curse my parents bestowed upon me was so strong that it didn't even wait for me to have children to hit. My dog is following right in my jealous footsteps.

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