Saturday, June 13, 2009

Biting the Hand That Feeds You

Part of a song I wrote goes...
"Don't kiss a boy or you'll go blind, don't bite the hand that feeds you, Don't cut off your nose to spite your face because there's too many people who need you."
It's just a humorous little diddy about advice my mother gave me growing up that made absolutely no sense at the time and I thought she was crazy (well actually she was but that aside) some of it was good advice.

Two dogs checked into our boarding kennel the other day and one is just as nice as can be but the second one tried to take my arm off when I reached in his run to fill his bowl with food. I was trying to do something nice for him and he returned the favor by trying to bite me. I guess he never met my mother. I remember when I was writing Tips and Tidbits For The Horse Lover, I was writing a tip about never feeding your horse your fingers, being careful to approach them with an open palm because horses have peripheal vision and can not see what is directly in front of them. On that particular day, I didnt heed my own advice and for the first time in my life, one of the horses bit the tip of my finger. Ironic, isn't it?

Anyway, some people are just like that mean dog, you go out of your way to do something nice for them and they bite you. Not literally but figuratively. I have never understood this but it seems the more you do for them, the more they bite you. Now you would think we would learn and just stay away but when you care for those people, you just continue to ignore the biting and do more for them. Then one day, you are in enough pain that it registers and you learn your lesson and you stop doing for them. Ahhhh, but now they have come to expect it and they resent you for not feeding them with your kindness. Their anger and expectation grows and because they haven't learned to do for themselves and have come to depend on you to do for them, they lash out in an attempt to put their universe back on its axis where you give and they take.

Instead of realizing how much you have given them and learn to give back in appreciation, they blame you for everything that has gone wrong in their life and you become the enemy. The smart thing to do is to just walk away and allow them to grow as a person by learning to do for themselves. Then the third party biting begins. This is where you hear from a third person what a horrible human being you are because the biter says it is so, not to your face but to the third party which hurts even more than the original bite. If you confront the biter with the hurtful things they said, you are just putting yourself back within biting range which is stupid and since nothing is ever their fault, (just ask them) the fault falls on you through the third party. Are you with me so far or have I lost you yet?

I tuned the mean dog and his grateful, fun loving friend loose in the play yard. The food was already in the yard, prepared by me as always however both dogs were unaware that I was the one that gave them the food. The nicer of the two dogs came to me for attention wagging his tail and then went directly to his food. When he was finished, he was content and went to lie down and bask in the sunshine. The mean dog? He didn't notice the food, hair standing on end ready to attack, he came at me and I turned my back on him. He was expecting me to feed him and I ignored him completely. He growled in an attempt to get me to give him food. I continued to ignore him. The food was there, the only thing that changed was that he had to go out in the world and find the food himself. I was no longer willing to risk the bite by giving him the food. He eventually found the food while his friend lay at my feet content just to be in my presence. A loyal dog who understood that unless he met me with love and respect, he was on his own. Unless he showed gratitude at the fact that I was willing to feed him at all, he would have to figure it all out on his own.

It made me realize that when we do too much for the people we love and that effort is not met with loyalty and respect, we are doing them a terrible injustice. We are robbing them of the ability to do things for themselves, to go out in the play yard and find the food for themselves. When we do too much for them and it is not met with love loyalty and respect, we are teaching them that it is all right to bite the hand that feeds them because they have come to rely too much on the fact that you are always going to feed them with your love and generousity whether they bite you or not.

The view from the back of my horse today is that nasty, mean dog who taught me a very important lesson about human nature. Also his friend who taught me that when I put myself out there for the people I love, I should expect nothing less than love and loyalty and respect in return. So go ahead and kiss a boy because you probably wont go blind but don't feed the ones that bite you because if you truly love them, they need to learn that biting is absolutely unacceptable and when someone reaches their hand out to you when you need them, never bite them.