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Stay Cool, Cricket

 

We are still working on keeping Cricket calm and quiet, while she’s getting her leash on to go outside. My latest attempt is to sing to her. The song that keeps coming to mind is “Cool” from West Side Story. Of course, I had to switch boy to girl, “Girl, Girl, crazy girl, get cool, girl!” The next line in the lyric is, “Got a rocket in your pocket,” and that made me think about the whole question of dogs having pockets. If Cricket has hidden pockets, and she keeps rockets in them on occasion, that would make the amount of time she spends writhing on the floor, scratching her back, seem much more dangerous.

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“I can scratch my back if I want to!”

“Keep coolly cool girl?” The lyrics seem a little sillier than I remembered.

“Girl, girl, crazy girl. Stay loose girl!” I can picture Cricket doing the dance moves at this point in the song. She’s outside in the dark, wearing her denim jacket and canvas sneakers (just go with me on this), and she’s getting really low and jazzy and snapping her fingers (side point, what made God decide that dogs shouldn’t have fingers? Do dogs have no need to snap?).

“Breeze it buzz it, easy does it. Turn off the juice girl,” except, given that the goal is to get Cricket outside to pee, I’m not sure this line in the song is very helpful.

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“You’re not funny, Mommy.”

“Go, girl go, but not like a Yo Yo school girl,” this reminds me that Cricket is not allowed to go to public school, which still bothers me, because she would love to learn French, and math, and a little bit of social studies, and she would especially love running laps in the gym.

“Just play it cool girl, real cool.”

Cricket responds well to music, actually. She especially prefers it to when I say words like no, stop, sit, and other cruelties of that kind. She watches my face very closely when I’m singing, just like my oldest nephew did when he was a baby, as if he was trying to figure out where the sounds came from.

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Music soothes the savage Cricket.

It takes at least the length of the song to get Cricket quiet enough to be leashed and allowed out the door. Once she’s outside, though, all bets are off. She’ll bark at just about anything.

But that’s a challenge for another time, and a longer song.

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“I don’t think I can take anymore, Cricket.”

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“Wake me when the training is over.”

The Unbarked Barks

 

Cricket has a lot of trouble holding back her need to bark. She believes that the unbarked barks scratch her throat and give her tummyaches. I have mixed feelings about this. Every writing class I’ve taken, every friendship, every moment of psychotherapy, has been another lesson in how to make myself more acceptable to other people. Don’t write this, don’t say that, don’t look, act, be, whatever it is that bothers people today. When I write a first draft that feels out of control (hysterical, melodramatic, angry, raw, unacceptable, etc.) I go back and rewrite until it feels more contained. I think this is what I’m supposed to do. But my unbarked barks keep scratching my throat, and I wonder if Cricket has the better idea.

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“I bark therefore I am!”

Except, Cricket’s endless barking annoys me, and I don’t want to annoy people the way Cricket does. I don’t want to be the loud mouth who barks at every leaf. I don’t want to be unseemly or unlikeable, the way Cricket often is. I can think of too many things, right now, that I’m afraid to say, or write, out of fear of the consequences. And then, when I finally can’t keep quiet anymore, it all comes out in an inarticulate rush, because I have no practice, no experience, saying those things in a way other people can hear them.

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“Did you just tell people that I am annoying?”

Cricket never tolerates being silenced. And she makes it clear that keeping quiet causes her pain, as if all of the unspoken anger, desire, confusion and pain get stuck inside of her body. I’m pretty sure she could keep some of her thoughts to herself without making herself sick. But she disagrees. I know a lot of people, like Cricket, who could keep a few more of their random barks to themselves. But I also know too many people who keep too much buried inside, when it really needs to be said out loud.

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Butterfly is thinking about this.

Sometimes people speak up in order to share their fear or hatred or misery and they don’t care that they are poisoning others. They are not careful with their barks. They have no censor that considers the impact of their words. They think only of their need to get those barks out. And I don’t want to be that person.

Butterfly is very careful with her barks. She uses them to tell me that she’s hungry, or has to go outside, but she waits a long time before using her bark to signal danger, because she’s not sure what’s dangerous and what is just unfamiliar. But I wonder if she is keeping important barks to herself, barks that would reveal things about her that she thinks no one wants to know, or maybe truths that are unbearable, for her.

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“I have too much to say, Mommy. I think I will keep it to myself.”