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just who, exactly, is the sheep here


My seven-year-old asked me yesterday, "How do we celebrate Labor Day? What do we do?" And I said, "We relax." She found that to be an unacceptable and "boring" answer.

I am quite positive my mother (who is still alive) has somehow been reincarnated as my daughter. I don't really understand the astrophysics of something like that and I'm not talking about a "Freaky Friday" type scenario where they actually switch personalities in the present (insert movie announcer voice here) with hilarious results ensuing.

Katie is so much like my mother it is scary. She is very headstrong, determined and smart. She is extremely social and knows no strangers. She has to go on a trip each day (even just to the grocery store) otherwise she feels like a caged tiger, trapped in the house (like my mother).

She took to playing Bingo in pre-school like a duck to water. The teacher asked me that day if I constantly play Bingo with Katie at home, because she plays like a pro. I told her no, I've never played Bingo with her, but her grandmother has played twice a week for the last 50 years.

Pineapple is Katie's favorite fruit, she loves her purses and she seeks out human conversation with any available, breathing human -- just like my mother.

At times this is a comfort to me, because I know Katie will take care of herself when she is an adult. She will not take crap from anyone and will fight for what is right. But it is difficult to constantly guide a child such as this.

We have quite a few parenting books regarding strong-willed children. The bottom line advice, that I actually find somewhat helpful, is to remember this type of child is "doing her job" by constantly questioning boundaries and authority figures. I am supposed to "do my job in return" by reinforcing the boundaries. Sounds simple, doesn't it?

In theory, it is simple.

In theory, I am the Australian Shepherd (you know, that sassy dog that sort of looks like Lassie and has one blue eye and one brown eye). That dog runs around keeping the sheep safe. So Katie, Allison and Emily would be the sheep in this analogy. Most sheep are pretty laid back, methinks. Allison and Emily are pretty laid back.

A quick review of sheep behavior over at wikipedia tells me that I am mostly correct regarding flocking behavior with the following exception.

"One calls a sheep that roams furthest away from the others an outlier, this sheep ventures further away from the safety of the flock to graze, due to a larger flight zone or a weakness that prevents it from obtaining enough forage when with the flock, while taking a chance that a predator, such as a wolf, will attack it first because of its isolation."

Katie is most definitely an outlier. And this dog is getting old. It's getting a little more difficult to be on point and constantly run about making sure all of the sheep are grazing where they should be while warding off stray wolves.

On Labor Day this dog would like to put her head on her paws and relax a bit.

Sometimes her behavior makes me feel like the giraffe in Anger in this hysterically funny clip. (It's only one minute and 42 seconds but you will laugh your head off. Trust me.)

But my outlier not only grazes on grass far from the pen, she rolls in mud, walks on top of the barbed wire fence like a gymnast on a balance beam and taunts the wolves in the forest. She likes to see how close she can get to the wolves before the dog comes sprinting over to herd her back.

She is tenacious and full of energy. I guess she keeps me young. She certainly keeps me on my toes. (Maybe she is the Australian Shepherd puppy and I am the sheep? That would explain some things.)

So while I feel lazy today, I will be grocery shopping and making banana bread and working on puzzles. Perhaps we will venture out to the park so we can meet up with some other people. Because Lord knows it's stifling just relaxing inside of the house.


2007-09-03 at 6:31 a.m.

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