Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Dynamic Shift

Last week was a confusing one for Flash. For three days, my oldest son was on a trip with his class to Washington D.C. One less kid isn't terribly strange, at least to the dogs, because it happens temporarily all the time. But during one of those days, Bailey also went to the vet for a full day for some minor surgery. As the pack continued to shrink and not re-grow at the end of the day, Flash started to look worried.

Ben and I gave him lots of lovin', took him for extra walks and reminded him he was a good boy. But he spent a lot of time in his bed, only raising his head to look at me forlornly every time I came downstairs, as if asking, "what did I do wrong? How can I get him back?"

It's strange how you don't really consider the dynamic of a family until it experiences a distinct shift. Kids, of course, are the first to feel the difference. Ben didn't seem to know how to behave without Jacob in the house. Who is he when not considered in relation to his brother, the guy who's been there just like Mom and Dad ever since the day Ben was born? I couldn't figure out if he was more outgoing than usual, or if I was just more tuned-in to him. But he definitely seemed to be feeling his way, clinging a little more and acting a little differently.

Ironically, Flash seemed to be feeling the same effects in Bailey's absence. Without 'big brother' by his side, he was hesitant to walk far from me when we went out, and was particularly happy to be petted indefinitely, getting closer and closer as I scratched his ears. He'd likely have crawled into my lap if I'd let him.

More than love, I think the little guys were feeling an indefinable loss of themselves with the big guys gone. As much as they squabble, jump claim on each others' toys and beds, they look to their elders for guidance in their behavior. Sometimes it's annoying when they're around, because they're around ALL THE TIME. But when they're suddenly NOT around, things just aren't right. There is comfort in knowing they always come back, so when they don't, there's doesn't seem to be proper closure to the day.

Happily, the entire pack was reunited by Friday night, along with the addition of my writers' group. To say it was crowded and chaotic is an understatement; to describe the noise level would be difficult. Everyone stayed up far too late. But one thing is certain: everyone was happy to have everyone home, to get back to our regularly scheduled, messy life.

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