I’ve found that our family dog, a Maltese named KC, can be the source of some interesting lessons of her own making. Albeit from some, shall we say, different circumstances. For example, when I take her out to do her business (we live on a street that has both foot and automobile traffic), regardless of how badly she may appear to have to go while standing at the door scratching, she always has a way of being distracted once she gets outside. I know how it appears to all the dog whisperers out there; that she’s playing with me just to get to go outside. I can buy that premise sometimes, but not every time. I see it in how relieved she is when she finally does take care of business. The point is that no matter the purpose of her original trip, and how important it may be, she still gets distracted by the simplest of things. Besides the obvious cars and pedestrians walking by, there are the birds, squirrels, and, most of all, our resident wild rabbit that’s taken up living in our natural-area shrubs for the last several years.
Now, I realize there are ample legitimate opportunities to be distracted here, and I don’t blame her, mind you. But let’s face it, how often have you really had to go to the bathroom badly only to be distracted by something that totally took your mind away from the need at hand? I’m guessing, not that often. But for KC it’s a constant thing. I’ve learned a little trick that seems to be effective. Picture this if you will, I speak the command “Focus…fooocus” to her during these periods of momentary distraction. Interestingly enough, I’m starting to make progress with this method. It’s a familiar word to her by now and she’s starting to understand it’s meaning, so to speak. At least I like to think so, anyway. Upon my speaking the command, she’ll bring herself back to the real reason we’re standing out in the drizzling rain and take care of her business first, before resuming her barking routine.
The thing this experience has made me aware of is just how often we, ourselves, have an important task at hand (I’m not speaking of the bathroom in this instance), and instead,we let ourselves get sidetracked by something we find more interesting at the time. Sometimes it’s procrastination, but that’s not always the case. We legitimately are headed in one direction, either in our plans for the day, a goal we set, or whatever the case may be, and the next thing we know, we’re distracted by something shinier, and more appealing in the moment.
Much like KC, we let ourselves be pulled away from that which is most important at the time, or at the very least, more important than what we’re distracted by, and we let our plans change or be negatively impacted in some way. When this happens to our children we have to take on the role, much as I do with our family dog, and find a way to remind them to refocus. I have to admit being the parent of teenagers; our dog is quite a bit easier to bring back into focus than teens are. But, it still has to be done, sometimes, that is, especially when there are critical tasks at hand (homework, tests to study for, project deadlines nearing, etc.).
It’s just another one of those small, yet impactful things parents are responsible for when it comes to raising their children. Keeping them focused on the important things in life, and helping them realize what matters most: family, friends, our health, education, and making a positive impact on the world around us in some small way.
I wonder if KC sees my focus command in that way. Nah, probably not, she has a lotmore important things on her mind I’m sure, such as that “waasklywaabit.”