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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Bow's Isolationism

Yesterday was a busy day. Because I have been experiencing a persistent cough that seems to be more to do with the unusual humidity of this fall weather than with the cold I have long since overcome, I decided to start the morning off with a foray into the world of culinary delights from the mysterious East. Bow and I prepared Ginger Garlic Eggs together and enjoyed the results. Here's the video:

The rest of the day, until about three o'clock, I worked on revising The Portrait of a Lover to meet the author's specifications which he'd made in the notes on the proof. Bow was pretty happy all this time, and he allowed me to work with minimal distraction. 

I did, of course, have to attend to his needs every time he used the potty, and this occasioned interruptions at about thirty minute intervals. But all in all, this was an idyllic situation of two family members coexisting in the same space and each doing their own thing.

As long as he has me all to himself, and he feels I have paid enough attention to him, Bow can be quite pleasant. But when someone else steps into the picture, group dynamics come into effect, and Bow wants to make sure that everybody has a relationship with him, but no two people can relate to each other without placing Bow at the center of the universe. This can have an isolating effect, not just on me, but on Bow himself.

Lawrence was not able to stay on Monday for more than two hours, because he had a project that he was working on and had to finish. So yesterday, on Tuesday, Lawrence came in for an additional two hours, starting at three o'clock. Bow loves Lawrence, and he was happy to see him. He regards Lawrence's time here as only for him, and he gets very upset if I talk to Lawrence beyond a perfunctory hello.

I was in a big hurry, because I was going to pick Sword up from school so that we could go shopping for school clothes at Wal*Mart. (Normally, Sword rides the bus home.) I was on my way out, when Lawrence intercepted me in the kitchen. "Bow says he wants a green apple," he told me. "If he can't have a green apple, he'd like a red apple. But he prefers green. Do you happen to have any green apples?"

"Yes, I do. " The red apples were on the dining room table in a big bowl, but the green apples were hidden  in the refrigerator. I reached into the fruit bin in the refrigerator and handed Lawrence a green apple for Bow. "Thanks," he said, and that was the extent of our conversation. I then rushed off to pick up Sword, since it was almost three-thirty.

When I got back from shopping with Sword, I noticed there was a green apple on the dining room table among all the red apples. So I stopped by the pens to ask Lawrence: "Didn't Bow want the green apple?"

Lawrence shook his head wryly. "He got in trouble. He didn't get the apple. When I got back to give him the apple, he had already dripped on the floor."

"Oh." Bow pees on the floor to express displeasure. We can't seem to wean him of that, no matter how old he gets. But we never give up, either. Dripping on the floor means getting punished.

"Did he tell you why?"

Lawrence smiled. "Oh, yeah. He acted all huffy after I punished him, and it was like I was the one who had done something wrong, so I sat it out while he threw a fit. But eventually he told me: 'Because you stopped to talk.'"

Bow doesn't want Lawrence to talk to me on Bow's time. Even if all we talked about was what kind of apple Bow wanted and how to get it to him, Bow was willing to risk not getting that apple in order to punish us for daring to talk to each other!

Lawrence added: "I told him that was not going to work. He doesn't get to decide that I can't talk to you. He's just going to have to get over that."

Lawrence is right, of course. But in many ways, Bow is winning that battle. When I have a deadline and a job to get done, it's very important for me to have things running smoothly with Bow. If nobody comes by, he and I manage just fine together. But if anyone, even Sword, just pops in to say something, things can get very ugly, and no matter how much Bow ends up losing out on as a result of misbehavior, my work suffers, too.

Guests sense this. They see how nervous I get when they talk to me and not Bow. So they don't come. If they do come, they don't stay long. I haven't figured out a way to combat this insidious policy of Bow's. I can't walk out on him. He can't walk out on me. And there's the devil to pay if anybody else drops in.


  1. Perhaps Bow will grow out of this. There are some kids who will interrupt their parents when they are talking to me.

  2. JewelandtheSun, I hope you are right and Bow will outgrow this attitude.