Poochie was his name. Dad brought him home for a “family” pet.
Poochie hated me. I hated Poochie.
What’s worse is that I had to go through “Poochie’s Pad” (our back porch) in order to get into my house. (I don’t remember why, but I wasn’t allowed to go through the front door.)
And Poochie was nothing but a big mean bully!
He had sparkling ivory teeth that flashed at me if I dared to darken his doorstep. Should I attempt to step past the threshold into my home, a menacing shriek would spew from his snarling rubbery lips and he would pounce upon me with all fours, using his piercing pearly whites on any piece of me that was “biteable.”
Oh, how that carnivorous creature terrified me!
So what does a three-year-old do when she wants a drink of water or has to go to the bathroom (or wants to get away from the mean boy who lives down the street)?
She sits on the steps and cries.
But she doesn’t cry loudly enough for anyone to hear because that would bring on a scourging.
Not a spanking, mind you — a scourging …
multiple lashes with a leather belt that would savagely lick at her skin.
Not a fun prospect.
So I would sit on the steps and wait for my parents to extend the golden scepter and “bid me enter” when they were good and ready.
Dad would then constrain the menacing monkey with gleeful laughter while I would dash through Poochie’s Palace with the speed of light, terror ripping through my soul!
I loathed that animal with all the loathing that was possible for my three-year-old heart!
Granted, Poochie was cruel and wicked, but I don’t know who intimidated me more — the monkey or the boy.
Georgie was the neighborhood bully who lived down the street. I don’t recall exactly what he would do to me; I just remember that I dreaded seeing him coming my way.
And so, during that young season of my life, I lived in fear:
Poochie on the inside, Georgie on the outside — with no refuge readily available.
I remember my parents giving me a big stick, ordering me to strike Georgie the next time he approached.
I shuddered at the thought!
I did NOT want to have an altercation with Georgie.
I really didn’t want to hit Georgie with a stick, but I was afraid of the consequence if I defied Dad’s orders.
That put me in a pickle; but, in order to prevent potentially painful repercussions, I reluctantly (and fearfully) opted for standing up to Georgie, even though challenging him went against every single grain in my body!
Sure enough, Georgie eventually came trudging down the street toward me, much like Goliath most surely would have strutted before David the shepherd boy.
This was my chance to daringly defy this belligerent beast of a boy!
(I didn’t know it then, but my mom and dad were hiding behind a bush watching the encounter.)
Feigning courage with a strong, threatening stance, I raised my stick high in the air, ready to …
And then (according to my mom) I choked out these words in a timid tone:
“I won’t hit you hard, Georgie!” much to Mom and Dad’s chagrin!
That seems to have marked the beginning of what would be my modus operandi for decades to come.
My natural tendency? Walk a mile around conflict.
Bullies and “mean” people scare me.
I freeze inside and cower like a whipped puppy! Words literally will not come.
It’s as if my brain goes blank (until well after the fact) and my larynx becomes paralyzed — the “voice box version” of a fainting goat!
(Look up “fainting goat” on YouTube. You’ll see what I’m talking about, and you’ll probably laugh!)
I completely understand those goats! It’s easier for me to simply lie down and play dead than to buck a bully.
I don’t want to be that way; but, yet …
I’d ten times rather be the “offendee” than the “offender” — even if it means “offending” a mean person by confronting his conduct.
This pattern of behavior would plague me for decades to come.
(It’s a good thing I seldom encounter people of this ilk! The people around me are warm and kind, and I have to do my level best to keep up with them! How blessed I am!)
Fortunately, this story does have a happy ending.
Oh, I’m still a “fainting goat” with mean people — my voice still freezes and my knees still knock.
But a new kind of Something (or should I say SomeOne?) now surges up within me and compels me to see them differently — much differently — through His eyes!
However, this wouldn’t happen for many years to come …
but I’m getting ahead of the story.
Stay tuned for more …