Max is a punk.
This last time I moved, I looked specifically for a house with a backyard that Max could enjoy. I was excited for Max to have a backyard for many reasons – he could spend more time outside, he could run around more, I could leave him alone longer when the weather’s nice. And I was most excited that a backyard meant I would not need to walk him every time he needed to go to the bathroom.
I did find a house with a backyard and Max has made use of it, albeit not as often as I’d like. He uses it in the mornings and late at night, and it has been wonderful not having to walk him at those times.
But, I quickly found out that Max does not poop in the backyard if he can help it. Instead, he saves it all up for when I walk him every afternoon. He makes sure that I have to pick it up, instead of just going freely in the backyard.
Max is a punk.
I suppose I understand this behavior. For three years, I trained him to go to the bathroom when we walked, because that was the only option. So, he’s probably just doing what his body is trained to do. But, he does go in the backyard sometimes, and he knows that’s ok. So, maybe he just doesn’t want the area he runs around in the most to be all poopy.
Or maybe he just wants to make my life harder and secretly enjoys the fact that I have to pick up his waste. (I know he’s smirking when I do it).
Whether his behavior is intentional or not, Max has taught me that while we have to let crap out, we also have to be mindful of where it happens and who it effects. He has taught me that it is important and healthy to have an outlet, but it is not good if that outlet is inaccessible most of the time or if that outlet causes more harm to others around.
There are many sad and distressing things happening in the world that can cause unpleasant thoughts and feelings to well up in me. While these crappy thoughts and feelings need an outlet, I am aware that the things I say and do will impact the world and especially those close to me. Thus, there is a delicate balance to be met in how I let go of those things.
I don’t want the crappy responses to pile up in my backyard. I don’t want them to overwhelm and stink up my personal life. And I do want them to bear witness to the crappy situations that caused them so that maybe those situations will change. Sometimes it is a real wake up call to me when Max poops a lot on walks, because it forces me to reconsider how much I have let him out – which in those instances is usually not nearly enough.
But I also don’t want to overwhelm others by only spewing crappy responses out into the world. And I don’t want to negatively impact the people walking alongside me, causing more harm to those unintentionally caught up in the matter.
Max has taught me that it is not easy work being a punk. It is not easy to find the best ways to express all the emotions that are built up as reactions to a crazy world. Such expressions can easily overwhelm and cause more harm to self or others.
But he has also taught me that having the right people around me to guide toward appropriate outlets and patiently walking with me through the process of expression can make a huge difference in healthy release of crappy thoughts and feelings. He has taught me to be more mindful of all outlets available, and to work with the people around me to find the best opportunities to bring light to crappy situations while not furthering the messiness of the world.
So, thank you Max for teaching me to look for appropriate outlets for responses to a crazy world. And thank you for teaching me to be more aware of who is effected by the expression of crappy thoughts and feelings. And, though I love you even when you are being a punk, maybe we can start working on your less metaphorical crappy expressions.