It has come to my attention that more and more colleges are creating what they call “safe space” for students who might find comments, debates, certain words or viewpoints distressing or discomforting. This includes anything that goes against their dearly and closely held beliefs. At one college, the room is equipped with bubbles, coloring books, blankets, videos of puppies, calming music, blankets and Play-Doh. Thinking that might be something I would like to do when I don’t like what Doc is saying to me or I feel offended in any way, I started to plan.
After making a list, I make a safe space for myself with the following; nice fluffy dog bed, my favorite toys, a nasty bone I have been chewing on for a year, and a tee shirt I stole from Doc’s hamper so I can smell her even when she is not there. Then, I find a cozy corner of the room, place everything in it and stand back to admire my work.
As Doc enters into the room she glances down with a quizzical look and asks ” What’s all of this Grover?” When I explain I got the idea from some college kids, Doc looked at me and said; ” It’s good to have a place that you feel safe, but you can’t run away and hide every time you hear something that you don’t like or agree with. Growth comes from challenging your beliefs, considering other’s opinions and learning to find balance. If you really want to be safe, the best thing you can do is learn how to have good boundaries.” “Boundaries I ask, like what?” Then Doc reminds me of the times dogs or people have approached me in ways that made me feel uncomfortable. Mulling that over I remember that just last week a dog approached me in an aggressive way and tried to sniff my butt before I signaled that it was ok. I dealt with it by giving a low growl until the dog backed away and we could work it out. ” I understand what you mean,” I say to Doc.
Looking down at my safe space, Doc asks, “do you want to try it out together?” And with that, we curl up together on the soft bed with the toys, I place my head in her lap and realize as I start to drift off to sleep that being next to Doc is the safest space of all.