I saw a man unleash his inner Chimp on two young women, and it wasn’t pretty.
Whilst walking on the coast near Bournemouth (my Chimp loves a trip to the seaside) I saw a man approach two young women walking dogs. It started off quietly enough with the man asking why they couldn’t have had their dogs on leads earlier. The women looked confused. His voice rose and went on to say that he had an eleven-year-old son and they had RUINED his son’s birthday.
It turned out that the angry man and his family had been eating fish and chips on the beach when one of the women’s dogs had run up, stuck his nose in the birthday boy’s deep fried portion, and run off again. I had much sympathy for the hungry hound. I often find the scent of chips overpoweringly alluring, but then I am from the North, so it’s practically genetic.
The woman holding the chip-sniffing pooch was now apologising profusely.
Unfortunately the man’s Chimp was well in control. This had RUINED his son’s WHOLE day…(the man’s Chimp was building up steam now)…WHY couldn’t they keep the dog on a lead? Can’t they UNDERSTAND how upset the boy was? He was in TEARS. WHY couldn’t they keep it on a lead? WHY, he shouted? And so it went on.
The woman kept saying sorry but she stood no chance.
My own Chimp’s ‘parental’ drive was now a bit agitated and decided to walk towards the group, with visions of saving the day (a bit of Chimp ego thrown in there too). By this time, a couple were also approaching, so the shouting man issued a few farewell expletives and stormed off, leaving two shaking women in his wake.
I wonder if the family see the father’s Chimp regularly? On his return, would his family feel the same way as him, or be in distress at another Angry Dad incident? (My Chimp is inquisitive with a tendency to catastrophise.)
We do have a tendency to judge someone’s behaviour at face value. Who knows if there were other factors? Maybe he hadn’t slept well (it’s very difficult to manage your Chimp if you’re sleep deprived), he’d just lost his job, his wife had left him for the milkman…etc.
I was lucky in my own childhood. We would have laughed it off and it would have gone down in the annals of family history as ‘The Day Our Chips Were Gobbled By A Dog’. Right alongside the entries for ‘When Dad Fell Off The Breakwater’ and ‘The Time We Got Norovirus In The Caravan’. (Although it wasn’t called Norovirus in the olden days, I’ve changed the words so as not to offend those with a sensitive disposition).
Now I know a little about ‘the inner Chimp’, I see Chimps everywhere and wish everyone knew about their Chimps, and the pain that an unmanaged Chimp can inflict on themselves and those around them.
I might make up some cards. On one side ‘I saw your Chimp today’, and on the other ‘you can be happy’ and a link to Dr Peters’ book*. It’s a nice positive thought to end on.
*The Chimp Paradox, By Dr Steve Peters. http://www.chimpparadox.co.uk/index.php