Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Good Humor Men

It's hard to be little. You have to look up at everyone, you can't see the tops of counters, and you have to do what you're told. Things are confusing sometimes, and you want to be independent but you have no choice but to rely on others because you can't get a job. Sometimes you get yelled at, and you don't know what you did or why it was bad.

Just ask my beagle.

Perhaps this is why Ben has been so sympathetic with Flash lately: because he can relate. Before our dog days, Ben was the puppy in the pack. Everyone was bigger, smarter, older and better at stuff than he was (notice I didn't say 'louder'). Of course, being the smallest and youngest has its challenges, not the least of which is carving out your own niche, finding your place in the pack.

Not only were you not the first one here, but now you're competing for attention while trying to make up for lost time. Plus, everyone seems to know the rules, and their place, but you. So you go through your options:

Boy? Taken.
First born? Taken.
Smart? Taken.
Eager? Taken.
Obedient? Taken.
Creative? OPEN
Funny? OPEN

And there you go. Through the process of elimination, Flash and Ben have both been able to find their places in the pack. They are feisty, emotional, controversial, demanding and ultimately will do what they want regardless of what they're told.

But they are also the cuddliest, goofiest and funniest of the bunch. They love fearlessly and without reserve, and are creative in getting what they want. Ben will debate and finagle, tell you jokes and make ridiculous suggestions to get what he is after. Flash will roll around on the carpet like a wind-up toy, dig through the recycling bag to pull out and play with an empty peanut butter jar and use the couch to get up to the bay windowsill to bark at passersby. You're so busy laughing at their creativity that you forget to be angry at them. Henry Ward Beecher once said, "Men will let you abuse them if only you will make them laugh."

To Flash and Ben, rules are meant to be bent, looked upon as 'suggestions' rather than restrictions. In this family, at least, being the littlest means grabbing hold of what power you can and using it to your best advantage.

And if everyone is laughing at you, you've definitely got power. And a better chance of getting what you're really after.

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