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Time out. We all need to take time out but what that means seems to depend on your level of authority. If you are the parent and tell a child to go to “time out” that means they did something you don’t like. If you are the parent and want to stop and smell the roses you say you need some “time out.”

I am understanding more than before what time out means. I want time out from working on my floors. I want time out from working on the furniture in flat boxes. I want time out from knowing I need to clean as well as build. I want time out from worrying about getting the landscaping done so the dirt around the house stays around the house. I want time out from not being able to eat chocolate cake for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I want some time out.

Before I retired time out did not mean anything to me since time out meant that I took the laptop with me on vacation. I have been on four cruises in my life, two of which I waited to dock so I could send out parts of a grant proposal I wrote and rushing to meet the deadline of departing from the dock so I could make sure to make the teleconferences I had meaningful. I did not want to get caught mid-sentence in a meeting and I did not want to get caught with a bill of $20 a minute on my cell phone. Time out was more time beside than out.

Now that I am retired I still feel those sorts of feelings, they are endemic to the sort of person I am. What is different now is that there are not a herd of people needing something from me while my authority trickles down the line. These days the trickle is pretty short. It goes from me to the dog, Sophie.

Sophie can be a real pain in the neck. She is opinionated and has a really loud bark which she likes to exercise. One of the benefits of my retirement for her is that she gets to sit on the deck for hours staring out into the universe. If something interesting comes by she usually manages to deal with it by a bark or two but sometimes she gets really wound up. She knows she is not supposed to start barking her head off. I can imagine she just gets too excited to self monitor her barking.

The other day Sophie was wound up all day. When our neighbors and their dog walked down the road in front of our house she went off. I don’t like it when she barks really loud under any circumstances but it is just downright rude when it is a neighbor who walks by every day.

I called down to her to remind her not to bark. She did not “hear” me. I went downstairs and put my hands on my hips and said, “inside.” She has to come inside when she is overly exited. She is instructed to sit by the door until she can handle going out again. Sometimes she get right up and is absolutely fine. Other times it takes two to three rounds. I ask if she can handle it, she sits or goes depending on something in her head that I am not privy to. Usually she is fine when she goes back out but sometimes her excitement goes with her. She has to come back in, sit and go when she is ready.

Three rounds and we were nowhere. I stayed downstairs so I could monitor her behavior. She went out on the deck and made a few throaty noises and settled down. A short while later she pops up, tail flagging and haunches hunched. I marched out on the deck and said, “That does it. You need to go inside to time out.” On very rare occasions Sophie has had to go to time out. I reasoned that having your head turned away from the action was a pretty high cost for a dog. She only has to stay 30 to 60 seconds before she get called back to the action and reassured that she is a good dog but time out is serious. dog lying on floor with nose in corner

In the old house I picked the time out spot. It was by the living room curtains. I could march over and point to the spot and say, “That does it, time out.” and she would slink over.

When I came onto the deck and pointed inside and said time out, she chose her own time out. When I saw what she did I felt like the worst Mommie in the world. I also strangled a laugh since she looked so funny. I called her out of time out quickly but it was still serious. She made it far more serious than I thought it should be.

Which is where our time out as adults and time out as a child come together. The goal of time out whether it is corrective action or stopping to smell the roses is reflection on the situation you find yourself in. From that perspective, time out is consistent.

Adult and child, in authority or the one that is on the receiving end of the authority,it  is the same. We all need to take time out for reflection. Only then can we discern if it is for corrective action or stopping to smell the roses.