Something prompted me to remember an anecdote today.
It may or may not be of interest. It may seem trivial and not worth telling. But, I think it illustrates something – I’m not quite sure what – and how, sometimes, children can be as wise as their parents.
I was very devoted to a couple of dogs we had when I was a preadolescent. When we were living in Canton, Massachusetts, our family had a dog, Robbie, an Irish setter that we had purchased from a dog breeder.
Robbie was tall and gangly, besides being young and rambunctious. My parents felt that the place for him was in a tiny room or hall in our house that was not used except for ingress and egress – plus, we may have stored something there. We called it the “back hall.” It was adjacent to the kitchen and led to the back door, on the other side of which was a back porch. Robbie was confined to the room with the door kept closed.
I kept saying to my parents, “Can’t Robbie be let out and live with us in the house?’’
No, they would answer, sternly but regretfully, as if to say that they had no alternative. That could not be permitted. Robbie would scratch on or knock over furniture, ruin rugs, get underfoot and in everyone’s way, and so on and so on.
But Robbie seemed so unhappy back there. He would scratch at the door and whine, wanting to be let out.
I kept begging my parents to “free” Robbie. “If you let him out,” I said, “he will calm down and behave.” I kept insisting.
Finally, on a Sunday afternoon, they gave in, sort of. They agreed to let Robbie out of the room for a trial. If he “misbehaved,” he would be sent straight back to his dungeon.
The door to the back hall was opened. Robbie scooted out, nearly knocking over whomever it was (I forget) had opened the door. He ran manically around and around, frantically and joyously, in circles in the dining room, then scampered into the living room and did the same thing, knocking over a chair or two. He ran himself ragged, deliriously circling one room and then the next, running back and forth between them.
This went on for about fifteen minutes. Then Robbie lay down with his paws extended and became calm, happily dozing in a corner, basking in family warmth.
My parents never sent Robbie back to his dungeon again. He became part of the family.
And, he behaved.
— Roger W. Smith