We had Bunny in therapy last Friday and we were discussing her recent round of temper tantrums and struggles for control. Lately, she has been sneaking out of the house and not telling anyone where she is going or what she is doing. On 20 acres of pasture and woodland, a little six year old is likely to get into a lot of trouble, so you see why we’ve been getting upset.
Especially now that the coyotes have had their spring pups, and we have killed two copperhead snakes in the last two weeks. We don’t worry so much about Elle, because she always has her dog as her constant companion and she wears a pair of leather cowboy boots to protect her legs. But Bunny, who frequently dons strappy sandals and frilly skirts to tromp around the farm, is not as suitably protected.
One of the things we discuss a lot in therapy is the jobs we each have as a member of the family. We have house rules for the girls which are to be respectful, responsible, fun to be around, they are to do things fast and snappy, right the first time, and the adult’s way. As parents, we only have three jobs…to love our children, keep them safe, and teach them about life. Few in numbers, but large in responsibility.
So you can see how Bunny’s need to do things her way might directly conflict with our job as parents. She has become very secretive and stealth-like lately. Fundamentally, she is a afraid of her own shadow, but if she can sneak out of the house and make us run around shouting her name when we can’t find her, then she has gained control of us. Score one for RAD.
But after Colby killed a copperhead snake, two feet from where he had been standing and building fence, the ante was raised. Colby took the girls out to look at the snake, showed them how it could blend into the grass and dirt, showed them his fangs, and talked about how poisonous he was. He lectured them on the importance of looking at where they were going and to always wear boots. I know Elle got the message, but I’m not sure Bunny did.
Part of keeping her safe is creating enough fear in her so she won’t continue to sneak off by herself. We don’t have to try very hard when it comes to the coyotes. Their eerie howling at dusk is enough to scare a grown man, let alone a small child. We hope that showing her a snake is also enough to deter her from running off in the pasture or woods to hide.
Actually, I think the thought that she might get her dress dirty or break a strappy sandal is enough to make her rethink playing hide and seek in the woods.
Coyotes and copperheads, or dirt and broken footwear. Hey, whatever works to keep them safe.