Monday, December 11, 2006

Hush My Darlings...

For some reason, animal metaphors work so well for Evan. Someties he is my baby gorilla; today the metaphor of a wolf cub comes to mind.
I have a theory about him. Though I don't have all the details of his childhood, I think there were two basic states: times when he was "man of the house" and basically safe; and times when there was another man there and he was not. My impression was that his mother never let them go hungry, never physically abused them, and never abandoned them. She also allowed drugs and violent men into their lives.

Combine that history with the underlying genetic structure of an alpha-male and you get Evan.

Evan did not appear to feel safe unless other people recognized his dominance.

Now that is different from being dominant. I like to listen to Patricia McConnell's radio show, Calling All Pets. She talks about dominance in pack animals. Dominance is defined as having primary access to limited resources. So if there is just one best place to lie down, who gets it? McConnel explains that the dominant animal doesn't always have to have it. Sometimes they don't want it and then the lesser animals have it.

This by the way is how I learned that our dog is a good dog -- in doggie terms. She never gets on the furniture, when we are home. Once we walk out of the house though she is now the most dominant member of the pack, and she has first access to resources. Actually, I suspect that Flabby Tabby is dominant when we leave, but she doesn't mind if Doggie gets on the furniture. But I digress...

Anyway, some dominant animals are benevolent and confident. That is what I strive to be. I know I am in charge and I don't have to defend it. I don't have to take things away from people just to demonstrate that I can. When Evan was sitting in my chair he would sometimes say, "You can have your chair if you want." I would respond, "I know" and then either tell him to get up or that he could keep it because I was going back to the kitchen in a minute anyway.

Some dominant animals need to make other animals recognize their dominance. They demand displays of submission.

I have no idea what sort of dominant animal Evan is when and if he actually gets the alpha place, but I know what sort of creature he is when he is not. I have heard, but do not remember where, that the unhappiest, most stressed, animals in the pack are the alpha-wannabes. The least stressed are, if I remember correctly, mid-pack members who don't mind being in the middle of the pack.

But as an alpha-wannabe Evan was abbrasive. Everything with him was a conflict. It was easy for Brian to torture him because every act of non-submission irritated him. Evan wanted to make Brian to back off, but as Mama Wolf had forbidden him to fight, there was little he could do but pound on his chest and display (wait...I just switched metaphors didn't I? Hmm...what would a wolf do?)

In any case, though I miss him now and I do expect the rest of the family will too, right now they are resting.

And though it is yet another metaphor...I woke up with that song in my head. Just slightly different words:

Hush my darlings, rest my darlings, the lion's far away...

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