When father and daughter returned from their hike out alone together today — without son who probably had been forcefully prevented from joining them — they saw him (son to one and brother to the other) and slowly made their way towards him. He was hunting in a field alone, but he looked up and saw them coming, and then continued his work — he did not run over to greet them excitedly the way he used to. They approached him, calmly, and there were greetings, which nowadays always involve submissive behavior on his part. The submissiveness had always been part of a dance of activities which segued smoothly into the greeting and had not always been blatantly perceptible, but now it dominates, and in addition, today, there was a curt angry hiss-growl voiced by Dad instead of the high-pitched joyful squeals which used to color these meetings.
The young male has learned to submit more quickly than ever when Dad approaches, but, magically, as if the demand for submission were just a minor annoyance, he then always continues his activities as usual. But Dad seems to be getting more and more antagonistic and more intolerant of his presence. The young female does her best to keep the peace, running interference, it seems, by interjecting herself between her dad and her brother, which always has the effect of diverting Dad’s attention away from his son, and it works. Dad ends up concentrating on her and the son slips away from underneath his dad, distancing himself from the parental bullying.
Today Dad watched his son for a moment after he had slithered away, and then headed into the bushes — it was time for him to “go in” for the day. The sibling youngsters, now without Dad around to dominate, began playing an exciting game of “keep the rat away from each other”. They ran all over the place, leaping around and over bushes as the female teased her brother and kept away from him with the treasure in her mouth. Finally they both latched onto the dead rat and there was a tug-of-war.
This is when Dad came out with his gaze fixed on the male youngster — he must not have liked his son’s hyperactive play with the daughter because he went for the young male again — he doesn’t do this to the female — and put him down again on his back — as if to say “stop having fun, you’re supposed to be off skulking somewhere after my last demand for obeisance”.
Son, who now had the rat in his possession, reacted as he had at the earlier greeting, submitting instantaneously by turning over on his back, while Dad stood over him with a menacing expression. At an opportune moment, son slipped away, with his ears plastered back against his skull, thus showing his acceptance of lower status. The intense playing activity did not resume. Son headed off a little distance to hunt and Daughter approached Dad to groom him, again diverting his attention away from the young male. Within a few minutes, Dad again headed off into the bushes, and daughter soon followed, while young son stayed out in the tall grasses for a little while longer.