Thursday, November 19, 2009

Becoming the Alpha Dog

One thing I love about RDI is how Pamela blossoms in new and unexpected ways once we have filled in an important developmental gap. One day, she up and asked to go to a Christian rock concert and let me borrow the ear plugs for the heavy metal act. Then, she started serenading us in the car, everything from humming threads of classical music to singing snippets of the Beatles as my friends in the Northeast can attest. She has morphed into iPod commando and CD navigator on all car trips like any typical teenager. Her interest in other children has intensified for she boldly asks for their name and age since she wants to have friends of her own like Tinkerbell and Willboy. She is starting to get Monty Python humor and surfs the You-Tube for even more silliness.

In fact, her love of the poor woman who missed her flight at the Hong Kong airport recently saved us from an embarrassing moment. I walked to the neighbor's house for an impromptu chat at her porch. All I was planning to do was ask for a small favor, and, as boring as that sounded, our emerging social butterfly, Pamela, still wanted to come. My neighbor is a fountain of grace when it comes to issues on the spectrum for she has autistic teenage twin boys.

Pamela made up her mind to go inside. Because we had not given fair warning (which I always appreciate), I completely supported my neighbor telling Pamela no. She had just gotten home from work when I waylaid her and she had a million things to do. Pamela started getting pretty adamant and verbal about inviting herself in. My neighbor and I could tell Pamela was building up steam for tempest, and we gave each other that "she's going to blow" look.

Then, I remembered that poor lady who lost her cool on the You-Tube video, which has prevented Pamela's meltdowns in the past. I quietly turned my back to my neighbor and whispered confidentially to Pamela, "You don't want our neighbor to see you act like the lady at the airport, do you?" Pamela realized how that might appear to someone she is trying to befriend and immediately calmed down.

What does this have to do with being an alpha dog? Take deep cleansing breathes while I meander to my point.

The Navy taught me early in training is that, in order to be an effective leader, you need to learn to follow. Through RDI, we are learning how to guide Pamela better: she now enjoys being around people, follows their lead if it makes sense to her, and knows when to march to her own drummer. My friend Jamberry, another Navy family, posted a must-see picture of three men on ladders at her blog which vivifies this idea of apprenticeship.

One minor issue Pamela has had is dealing with the Arwenator, our hyperactive ball of fur. The said dog, when excited, jumps, licks and kills us with kindness. For years, Pamela has had difficulty asserting herself with the dog. About six months ago, we noticed a welcome change. First, Pamela figured out how to leave the room quickly and shut the door behind her. Since we always have a leash on our quick, cheeky dog (in case of escape), Pamela started grabbing the leash, putting the dog in the kitchen, and shutting the door. About a month ago, she alerted me that of the dog leaving us a smelly "gift" in the kitchen. A few minutes later, she proudly announced, "I did it. I cleaned the poop!"

Yesterday, Pamela and I were leaving for our walk. I decided to curb the zeal of the hyper dog by taking her with us. Pamela looked at me and asked, "What about my Loa?" I went back into the house and leashed up our other dog, the lazy, elderly, gluten-free/casein-free cream puff.

Pamela walked Loa for 30 minutes!

Steve, who drove past us while we were out, could not believe his eyes to see Pamela acting as alpha dog to lovely Loa.

1 comment:

JamBerry said...