The other afternoon a younger co-worker told me goodbye. "Goodbye," I replied, and then, in my mind I heard the phrase, "Be a good girl!" At first I wasn't sure where that came from, but it triggered the memory that my mother always added that phrase after telling me goodbye. "Bye! Be a good girl," she would call as I went out the door to kindergarten. The same phrase followed me even into adulthood. I guess my mom felt it was important for me to be a "good girl" and she programmed that into me from day one.
My mom meant well, but there were repercussions. I tried so hard to be a good girl that I never made waves. Even during those years when I had pink hair and spent my days sleeping and my nights at punk rock gigs I still did my very best to be a good girl.
I was such a good girl that I married because it was the "right" thing to do and stayed in an unhappy marriage for almost a decade.
I try very hard not to program unhealthy notions into Little Dog. I have always told him many times every day that I love him. It was like a game when he was young. I would call out his name, sometimes in an exasperated or urgent voice. "What," he would call back. "I love you," I would say in the same voice used to call his name. It has become so routine that now when I called his name he often replies, "I know. You love me."
There are other phrases in my life that I have come to expect from people. I have a dear friend of over 25 years who, when he calls me, begins the conversation with the phrase, "What's goin' on?" Spoken in his slow southern drawl, this phrase is like lullaby in that it lulls me right into that comfortable state of our friendship. These conversations usually last at least an hour.
Another friend has a thing about saying goodbye. He ends every conversation with his friends and family members with the phrase, "Love ya'." I used to think it was kind of odd, but now I am so used to it that it feels natural. If decades of friendship haven’t illustrated it, this phrase, at the end of every conversation, reminds me that he loves me.
It seems it is somewhat common to not like to say goodbye on the phone. I, personally, have no problem with it, but I see in many others a refusal to. Bob, usually ends with "Later" for example. Bojo, who is usually in a rush, often ends awkwardly with "I'll call ya later!"
Anything is better than my paternal grandmother who used to end the phone conversation by abruptly hanging up. The first time I encountered this as a child I held the phone out and looked at it. "She never says bye - she just hangs up," My mom laughed. Even as a child I thought this was kind of a rude way to end and encounter.
Much like my mother wished for me to be a good girl, I have realized I do impose a certain thing on Little Dog via the daily phrase, "Have a good rest." Since he was a baby I have always told him goodnight, followed by that phrase. See, I am in constant pursuit of a "good rest" as that is often elusive to me. I guess subconsciously I made imparting my wish for the same for Little Dog into my daily lexicon. I've never had to tell him to be a "good boy." He has become that all on his own.