Friday, July 6, 2012

Sheepdog Twelve

My books of official wisdom haven't arrived yet, but I've decided that preadolescents are like sheepdogs.

I can explain.

A friend brought her sheepdog to porch sitting the other night (having first very properly emailed to check that was okay, the Emily Post in me interjects approvingly), and described the dog's behavior towards humans in terms of herding. Summit will, for example, follow her out to the yard, check out the situation and confirm that her human is only going to be sitting out there reading on a blanket, and only then might go back in the house. Keeping track, checking in ... bossing around, basically.

Twelve kind of does the same thing. Often it's combined with "Oh, you're heading towards the bathroom? I'm going to announce that I have to pee, race you in there, and get in your way, just because I want to be as obnoxious as possible." That's when we laugh together for a few minutes, and then when I get tired of that, we have the conversation about good attention-getting vs. bad attention-getting behaviors and I shove her out of the room.

Many times, though, Twelve will just wander out of her room and check in with what I'm doing. Are you going to go down and sew? What are you doing? Are you going to watch your show? That kind of thing. I can't quite tell why she cares, since she is becoming an absolute master putter-arounder in her room and is perfectly content to do that all day, but she definitely checks in. It's not obnoxious, it's just conversational. It's quite nice, actually. Sometimes she'll announce that she is going to sit with me in the big blue chair, and we'll do that for awhile. Sometimes I take the opportunity to tell her to do something specific, like remove that banana peel to the compost bucket and put the used tissues inside the trash can. (What can she possibly be DOING in there that prohibits the accurate placement of trash in the appropriate receptacle?)

Last night we three got home kind of late from a cookout - a fairly typical summer evening situation. Usually Twelve starts getting ready for bed right away, but last night she saw that I had sat down in the big blue chair with my laptop and R had collapsed on the couch with a magazine, and announced importantly that she was going to go get her book. She retrieved her book and came back to sit in the other chair.

Yes. It was that precious.

I had only sat down for a minute to briefly check my email, but obviously I couldn't mess this up, so I did some puttering around of my own on the interwebs until R and I, having to get up at reasonable hours, eventually abandoned sleeps-'til-noon Twelve to her book.

In the last hour, Twelve has wandered out of her room twice, raced me to the bathroom and been thrown out by her braid, sat in my lap, asked me what time I'm leaving the house this evening, and told me self-righteously that I should probably get ready to go: Herding.

I'm sure that the comparison of twelve-year-olds to sheepdogs is a major theme in the preadolescent development literature.

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