It was half-term for Jerry last week; so he packed his bag and went on holiday.
So a holiday was an escape from the day-to-day, just what he needed. A Bed and Breakfast that he had been to before. He knew the owner there and he knew he could just wind down; ready for the next 8 weeks.
Jerry gets a lot of snacks at school (some say this is having a negative impact on his weight and consequentially his self-esteem). His problem is that he is just too polite, he can’t say no; whatever they bring and whenever they bring it. Now some of these visitors make the effort to get to know Jerry and his preferences. They know that he likes routine and so show up at roughly the same time everyday, with the same rustling carrier bag, when he can eat in peace (the big kids have gone). He is ready for those people, his stomach is prepared and he is fidgety with excitement. They bring a little variety, sometimes browning a little bit, but all edible. A little cucumber, a little lettuce sometimes celery! They are in perfect piggy size pieces, almost like leftovers.
However, other visitors are not as accommodating. They show at any time, no warning, no time for preparation. How does he know what they they have brought? Is it smelly? Are they expecting him to let them touch him? Some of them stop and watch him eat it too. His politeness takes over. He will have a nibble to satisfy their ego and then distract them. Run into the safe house, squeak a little, force himself to take a sip of water. Until they go. And then he breathes a small sigh of relief.
But on holiday it was different. There was a sole person who did the feeding. She took the time to get to know him, and then remembered him next time. Despite all the other holiday-goers she must see! She brought his favourite snacks, parsley, broccolli, kale.
She gave him his own space, yet many a conversation they had. Their daily problems shared and halved. They had a handful of common interests, mainly kale, although she seemed to eat it in different ways to his raw, nutritious choice.
She also used a different bedding, not a bedding he is used to, but that he has come to know as his holiday bedding. The smell washes over him as soon as he arrives and the tension in his muscles lifts. The decor is different to home, but he likes this. The room is a bit smaller, but this is to be expected.
She continues the food and hay supply that he is accustomed to, and ensures that fresh water is provided. He timed this break away perfectly. She had bought a new guest water bottle and he was the first to use it! It was smaller than he was used to and a bit noisier but as soon as he tested it (as surely he would be expected to provide feedback for others) he quite liked it. It served its purpose.
The B&B owner recommended exploring the local area; she patiently explained where was guinea pig friendly and that ‘a bit of exercise helps everyone to relax’! She liked walking, it was an achievement to her.
He agreed to give it a go (politeness being his downfall again), she was well-meaning and encouraging, what could go wrong? As he thought about the exploration ahead, he began to feel nauseous from the little butterflies building. She aided him over the tall wall and sent him off with food. She even transported his safe place to a more convenient location.
Once he had taken a few steps, he panicked. Where was he? How was he going to get back? What if the B&B owner had gone out? He remembered the action plan – go to the safe place. And so he did, deep within.
Unbeknown to him, she had planed to come and check his progress. He trembled, its too big, there are different smells and unusual sights. She waited patiently for him to calm down, she took the time to sit and reassure and then gave him some parsley to chew while contemplating his next action. She left him to think then, and slowly he took a couple of wobbly steps, then a couple more. Until out of nowhere something spooked him and the panic struck, it hit hard and he ran. He ran to where no-one would find him, it was quiet, it was dark. Peace. Except someone did find him, the B&B owner. The last person he wanted to see, she had caused this nightmare. She tried to coax him once again, said she would take him back to his room, but the trust had gone. No squeaks were given. Eventually she had to go elsewhere, she said. Had to get some food. A lie. There was plenty of food in his room and he had spied where she kept the supply. She did not need to get some food.
He fell asleep in that place. It was so dark and quiet and the panic had exhausted him, his legs could not move yet. He begrudgingly ate some parsley that she had left. He relieved myself (the anxiety brought these things on) and cautiously peeked out. However, he also found that he had time.
He was truly alone, left with only his thoughts. He had a good life, he was treated well. There was lots of hustle and bustle, lots of polite visitors to meet (some a bit scary), his regulars, and a someone to meet his daily needs. He was grateful that he had been accepted back to the B&B with only a few weeks notice. He knew others that weren’t so lucky. Once the initial anger and upset had faded, he thought rationally. She was being kind. Not mean. She wanted him to make the most of his holiday, gain new experiences, travel a little.
And so, when she retuned (with some kale…maybe she did need to go shopping), he had to move towards her. If he wanted to make the soaps that night, he would have to go back to the B&B. She understood how difficult this would be for him and helped as best she could. She slowly made the space he was in smaller, a more familiar size. She brought his sanctuary nearer so that he could run there during the transition. And then he felt her hands , close around his tummy. She kept him close to her the whole way back, and all faith was restored…he didn’t even wriggle.
I bring Jerry home with me, because I love his company. He helps me to look after myself & gives his owner a break. I am being kind to myself and others. TTFN.