Saturday, December 13, 2008

Surrendering Control

Yesterday, one of my students showed up with a nasty welt across her right hand. It looked like she had a rather severe accident with a car door or raked her hand across something, but it was actually a long, nasty crescent-shaped burn. When I asked her how it happened, she said it had to do with oden. Oden is various vegetables and fish stuff floating in a boiling hot vat of smelly liquid which is often sold in convenience stores in open vats when it gets cold. I don't like it, but most people (even foreigners) love it.

An oden-related accident is no surprise because the places that sell it have to keep the liquid hot to keep all the airbourne bacteria falling into the open air boiling boxes at bay. I figured she probably tried to snarf it down too rapidly and spilled some on herself. The story was actually a little different.

She told me she safely transported her oden home and planned to eat it later by microwaving it. She also said that her dog, a bulldog, loved oden and that if she ate it while her dog was around, the dog would sit next to her as she ate and drool at her or bark to beg. So, she waited until her dog was asleep and microwaved her oden. Because she was trying to hurry and eat it as fast as possible so the dog wouldn't smell it and wake up and come over to beg, she yanked it out of the microwave and spilled it on her hand and burned herself badly. The dog woke up and she ended up feeding most of it to the dog anyway.

One could be flabbergasted at how a person could surrender control of their life to a dog in this way. I certainly would not try to gobble down a favored dish clandestinely to keep a pet from begging for it nor would I feed most of it to the pet when I failed, but I do think we all allow the expectations, wishes, and actions of others to control us. Sometimes this is a form of loving accomodation which is good for a relationship as surrendering control shows someone you care more about their needs than your own. I'm guessing this is why my student, who I think loves her dog more than her husband, did what she did. Sometimes though, we surrender control out of fear of the consequences if we do not or as a result of our own insecurity when it comes to asserting our needs. I know I've been guilty of both of those.

I told my student that it was a good thing that she didn't have any children. If the behavior of her dog was enough to have her caving in like this, I can only imagine the influence children might have on her.


Girl Japan said...

Hey there.. I sure missed you and all your posts.. I'll have to catch up before we head out again... I am one of those gals who surrender to the dog.. actually she is more like a daughter to me, brings me laughter and joy.. but I have been a naughty mum as of late (she is 2kg overweight) and I need to learn to say NO to her.. so the Oden...story.. sure sounds familiar = )

Sherry said...

Not really the point of your story, but I hate oden. When I was pregnant, both times, I had to stay out of "conbini" as the smell made me sick, and I would have to dash off to a toilet.

Kelly said...

A simple way to get around the problem would be to shut the dog in another room while you ate the oden, then let him out when you had finished.

I loved my dog like it was my baby, though i didn't go overboard like that. The poor husband must feel like getting on his hands and knees sometimes too!