gets the credit.
I just realized that while children are dogs-
loyal and affectionate-teenagers are cats.
It's so easy to be a dog owner. You feed it,
train it, boss it around. It puts it's head on
your knee and gazes at you as if you were
a Rembrandt painting. It bounds indoors with
enthusiasm when you call it.
Then around age 13, your adoring little puppy
turns into a big old cat. When you tell it to come
inside, it looks amazed, as if wondering who
died and made you emperor. Instead of dogging
your doorsteps, it disappears. You won't see it
again until it gets hungry-then it pauses on it's
sprint through the kitchen long enough to turn it's
nose up at whatever you're serving.
When you reach out to ruffle it's head, in that old
affectionate gesture, it twists away from you, then
gives you a blank stare as if trying to remember
where it has seen you before. You, not realizing
that the dog is now a cat, think something must
be desperately wrong with it. It seems so antisocial,
so distant, sort of depressed. It won't go to family
Since you're the one who raised it, taught it to
fetch and stay and sit on command, you assume
that you did something wrong. Flooded with guilt
and fear, you redouble your efforts to make your
pet behave. Only now you're dealing with a cat.
So everything that worked before now produces
the opposite of the desired result. Call it, and it
runs away. Tell it to sit, and it jumps on the
counter. The more you go toward it, wringing your
hands, the more it moves away.
Instead of continuing to act like a dog owner, you
can learn to behave like a cat owner. Put a dish
of food near the door, and let it come to you. But
remember that a cat needs your help and your
affection too. Sit still, and it will come, seeking
that warm, comforting lap it has not entirely
forgotten. Be there to open the door for it.
One day, your grown-up child will walk into the
kitchen, give you a big kiss and say "You've
been on your feet all day. Let me get those
dishes for you."
Then you'll realize your cat is a dog again.
(For Soccer Boy, who at 14, is still all dog!)