• Jody Kussin

#73 Family Matters Herds of Elephants

#73 Family Matters

In These Times by Dr. Jody Kussin, June 17, 2020

Lots going on the world – some of it inspirational and some of it deeply distressing. How to stay sane in an insane time? Sometimes that means focusing on one foot in front of the other and keeping the little worries alive and the big worries, well, if the gremlins have not overtaken all your computer systems, store them in the Cloud and then shut down the tablet.

Little worry #1 – Should we ‘put up’ our cherry liqueur this year? Every year since we married in 1985, my husband and I have made my grandfather’s recipe for Russian ‘vishniak.’ It requires taking plump sweet cherries (usually out in June), vodka, and sugar and putting the ingredients into jars and leaving them alone for approximately six months. We collect bottles year long and then in December, we take out the alcohol infused cherries and pour the pretty liquid into pretty containers. We then gift our friends and family and colleagues with a container of nightcaps for the December holidays. This year however, it occurred to us, we have no idea what we will be doing in December. Working in an office or sitting at home? Able to host dinner parties or only gathering together on tired zoom calls?

So, we contemplate. What if we prepare the gifts, but have no one to whom to gift them? Not a huge worry obviously but….. Then we think, ‘well, let’s act with optimism’ (and also honestly, we have some free time in these times) so we answered our own query and yesterday we made 50% of what we usually prepare and put it into storage.

Little worry #2 – What to do with the dog regressing to pooping in the street versus on the grass? We made great progress with her over the course of her first month with us, teaching that as a suburban loved dog you politely poop on a neighbor’s yard and not on the sidewalk. But of late, all bets are off, and Ginger has taken to doing her business on asphalt, cement, or concrete. It’s like the previous seven months disappeared and her old anxieties and behaviors are back. Cesar Milan teaches that we need to better train humans, not dogs, and that the human needs to act the role of the ALPHA. In our family that used to be my husband. However, with our rescue dog Ginger, acquired during our empty nest and being raised in our shelter in place household of two humans/one dog/ one annoying squirrel, she is now my husband’s best friend. This means that on one of many daily walks, he allows her to poop literally in the middle of the intersection (of Coldwater and Burbank) and tells me, ‘when she has to go, she has to go.’ ‘Clearly someone has to go,’ I think to myself.

I google dog behavior and again, am reminded that this is a matter of teaching the human, not the dog. So, I decide that tomorrow I’ll bring some Skittles in my pocket on our walk. My husband is a huge fan of any candy, and especially, of skittles. I will work on getting him back into the role of ‘large and in charge’ and see if the treats work. Stay tuned.

Little worry #3 – There is no elephant in the room. There is only a large herd, in every space. It’s the gathering of the obvious among us the oblivious and it’s harder and harder to try to ignore it. So perhaps this is not a little worry. It’s the underlying foundation of all worries. How safe are we and how do we know? You know what, never mind. I think I’ll stick to rounding up the little worries and indeed, store those big ones elsewhere. Elephants? What elephants?!

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