Recently, while watching The Jungle Book with the kids (off and on), I heard this expression used as Raksha was teaching the pups. “The strength of the Wolf is the pack, and the strength of the pack is the wolf.” It’s part of a much larger excerpt called “The Law of the Jungle.” It didn’t really click with me until my four year old began trying to recite it, somewhat unsuccessfully. I had heard it before and recognized it from the larger literature. But, it wasn’t until I was explaining it to my son and helping him get it straightened out that I really pondered the implications.
It was a pretty cool moment of teaching about the need for teamwork. They all seemed to be listening pretty intently. Who knows how much they actually grasped, but they kept chanting it…mostly correct…sometimes.
Over the course of the next couple of days of working on memorizing the phrase, we had an opportunity to talk about how wolves work together and how important that phrase actually was. One of my knuckleheads has always had an affinity for howling. Talking about wolves got him going. So, we talked about how wolves used that to let each other know they were there and to call for help.
That led to a really unique tradition in our family. We began howling with each other. My daughter will not participate, but she’s eleven and way too cool. My wife jumped in though, and the boys had a ball with it. So many cool little lessons have come from this. One time, the three year old threatened to never howl with the four year old again, because the four year old was in a foul mood and not participating. I was able to jump in and say we’ll always howl with family. We won’t hold it against someone because they are having a bad day. I told them their sister is still part of the howl, even though she’s too cool to participate. Recently, we’ve even been able to get the baby involved! Super cute!
I think the most memorable thing learned was by me, though. It turns out that when I’m having a bad day, and I’m not handling things well – when nothing seems right, and I just want to crawl into my hole and not exist for a little while – a howl is what I need. It’s silly, and it’s hard to get past that initial silliness, but having my pack howl with me reminds me that what is important. I wish I would remember to do this more often. But, when I do, I’m glad my family understands that I’m not perfect, that I’m only human – or wolf, or whatever we are. Either way, they know I need them, and when their voices join in with mine, I know they have my back.