“Mush It” written by Laura Burdo.
A “Little” Story
A long time ago, in a mid-west town, this happened one snowy school-cancelled afternoon…
I remember requiring assistance getting into my snow suit – along with the usual accessories – mittens, earmuffs, and a hat, as I was only six years old. Now the boots… well, I put them on all-by-myself!
So there I stood, donning my new fuschia-pink snow suit with big fluffy earmuffs which practically covered my entire face. A white hat sat upon my head with pig-tails poking out at the sides.
We (my siblings and I) were anticipating snowball fights with neighborhood friends, sledding, and my personal favorite… making snow angels!
Prior to these wintery festivities, we had to complete schoolwork and tend to the family pet. These were strict orders from our father.
Seemed fair enough, and so we perform our tasks, leashed the dog and headed for the front door.
An Unexpected Twist
Just before anyone could take hold, this impetuously independent dog charges boldly into the great outdoors. “Tanner” was his name. Craazy was his game. Being a Shepard / Husky mix, this made him large, energetic, and strong-willed. (I’ll tell more about this four-legged feisty foe another time.)
I caught a glimpse of the end of the long leash and dove toward it, grasping with both hands. I recall the snow being high and slippery. Now, one might say that my small stature was no match for that rambunctious rebel… or was it??
You see, all I needed to do to subdue the dog’s rant was to create a drag and tire him out, right? Then I could save the day by saving the dog and bring him safely back home.
At least, that was this six year old’s plan.
But slow down, he did not!
Tanner charged up and down the main drag including some side streets, slid-into and climbed-out of ditches, chased a few dogs, and circled around too many trees to count. Yet, I held onto that leash for dear life – for his, and for mine.
Worries and thoughts racing. What if he ran away and became lost in the cold? Or he caused an automobile accident that injured people. Also, I feared that we may receive rebuke from father for allowing the dog to escape in the first place!
This scene continued for quite awhile as Tanner was rather young and spry – but, ya know what, so was I!
I suspect that being a gymnast made me no stranger to pain. Perhaps, it even helped me endure the discomfort of being jerked around, dragged over rough pavements, and bashing into the occasional inanimate object or tree along the way.
Ugh, and all that twirling. Remember the long leash? Well at times, I was on my back or sideways, but periodically, I’d be completely face down in the snow.
Neighbors were gathering to observe this spectacle. Some were staring with gaping mouths, others laughing. Bigger boys were chanting, “MUSH, MUSH!” and other obnoxious things.
But, ALL were shouting, “LET GOOO!”
I overheard my brother exclaim, “My sister’s a fighter, she won’t let-go!”
(Speaking of my brother… he recently recounted the details of this day with me. We had a good laugh when he said that if this had occurred during the smart-phone era, it surely would have been captured on video and posted on social media!)
Although attention spans may have been a bit longer back then, still the crowd dispersed. Tanner’s show-boating slowly dwindled and then his mania just stopped. And would you believe, right in front of our very own house?
And there we were… panting and wrung-out. Tanner’s coat snowy and his paws were mud. My snow suit was ripped in several places and my hat lost.
My siblings and I sulked up to the house together… like a scene in the movie, Dead Man Walking. We readied ourselves for punishment.
I’m still hanging onto that leash. Tanner’s tongue… (still) hanging out.
Father runs toward us with an expression upon his face that confused me. It looked something more like pity then anger. He lifted me up and held me, and attended to my bruises while brushing wet clumps of icy snow from my hair.
I asked, “Father, what does MUSH mean?
I told him that the punk boys were chanting it at me.
He roared with laughter and said, “Basically, Tanner fled and you, my dear, became the sled.”
As I reflect on this story, it both warms my heart, and saddens it.You see, that pattern of rescue, responsibility, worry, holding on too tightly, and not knowing when to let go has permeated my life. At times, this caused considerable conflict and perhaps pain to others, but certainly to myself.
Today, I understand that the best I can do – in all situations – is to seek the wisdom to know the difference.
The Pilates Preacher
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