This I Believe

Jessica - Hartford, Wisconsin
Entered on August 22, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30


I believe in listening.

To this day I am still told to “listen”; otherwise “I won’t do well on the test, assignment, sermon note…life.” One of the biggest battles teachers and elders alike tell children, is the ability to willingly listen. It is a critical skill, without paying attention humans wouldn’t learn a thing. However, being in high school, I’ve noticed that many of my peers lie practically unconscious during class, not listening.

Most people don’t have a set moment when they remember they learned to listen, but I do. Always growing up with dogs becomes a sort of comfort; I learned to trust my family’s two dogs. How could a five-year-old not love something soft and fuzzy? One of our dogs, Brooke, morphed into a purely evil creature as she grew older, and by the time I was five, she was hopeless. After several sessions with a pet psychologist it was determined she had a mental problem, funny for a dog, but true, she had some sort of obsessive compulsive disorder. Well, I never really understood why my parents told me to “stay away from Brooke whenever possible” until a series of events.

It started during the summer, she lunged at my neighbor through the screen door, she bit the neighbor girl’s finger, and she bit me. I was in the living room watching Barney and decided to use Brooke for a pillow, and as the I Love You… song played on the television I put my arms around Brooke; the last thing I remember is seeing blood on my mom’s shirt as I was crying.

I suppose I knew that I shouldn’t have gotten so close, but a five-year-old can’t comprehend such things until something drastic happens. I didn’t know what would happen, who really does when they don’t listen?

Learning to listen can’t be taught by parents alone, the individual must suffer the consequences for not doing so. I could’ve lost an eye, as the bite spanned over the corner of one eye to my chin. I sometimes think about what it would be like to have a fake eye, I wouldn’t like it, but I suppose it would reinstate “listen” into my head. That experience wasn’t enough to get me to always “listen.”

Despite my mom’s constant nagging, my dad couldn’t get rid of his prized hunting dog, so evil Brooke stuck around for several years until my mom’s advice came back to bite my dad, literally. I was in fourth grade, my mom was reading me a chapter from a Boxcar Children book, my sister was asleep, and my dad was in the living room watching television with the dogs. As words from the story rushed into my ears a different blood curdling scream interjected. My mom ran out the room, told me to stay, I did, she ran back down the hall, went back the other way with a bunch of towels, dad ran down the hall with the towels covering his face, he ran back out, and mom came back into my room. I could see the blood soaking the towels on his face, I knew he’d been bitten too, he just hadn’t been as lucky as me. The neighbor took him to the ER, where they had to sew his upper lip back into place. The next day Brooke was put to sleep.

As I sit in class and listen and watch others around me I know they may be tired, sick, an expert on the topic, or bored out of their minds, but to listen is to learn and to learn is life. Without listening, I don’t believe.