Thursday, 7 November 2013

A Spot of Love

When our house was being built, we didn't foresee losing one of our bedrooms to an excitable, gentle, affectionate being! While I painted images of early morning coffee, and late night beers on the balcony filled with plants, I didn't think I'd instead be faced with pots that have been dug out, or balls of fur, and the gentle, rhythmic thumping of a happy dog's tail. I was sure I didn't want a pet for a while. With Adiv adjusting to a new environment, and Aarit enjoying the taste of used footwear, I didn't think I needed a third child. Nonetheless, life had other plans for us.

A little after we'd  moved in, we found a lean sack of bones, wandering the lanes of our layout. He moved with a cautious limp, and bore signs of extreme starvation. His gentle face was covered with ticks, and he could barely bark. Perhaps out of pity, we began leaving him little bowls of milk and food, that he lapped up greedily. He ate everything we gave him, much unlike the kids. Sometimes we gave him bread, biscuits (that Rohit had begun buying exclusively for our new friend), idlis, and leftover chappatis. After his meal, this tired dalmatian would walk across the street, pee, poop and come back to settle in front our home. This went on for a while. We fed him, and he grew stronger and friendlier. He even took on the role of watch dog; barking at anyone who even dared look at our home. He was gentle with the kids, and happiest around Rohit who would pet him and gave him generous helpings of food. Before long, we discovered that he was no ordinary street dog, as he was responding to commands. He'd sit when told, and he'd even shake a paw. When Rohit opened the door to his car, he'd even climb in and settle down beside him. This only meant that this dog had either been lost or abandoned. However, going by his condition, we gathered he'd been out on the road for a long long time. 

A few days later, Spot was allowed entry into our home. 
Before he came in wearing a brand new collar, Rohit took him to the vet to get him cleaned up and vaccinated. Rohit then took him to the balcony, patted his head, and fed him, thus cementing their relationship. From then on, Rohit had  Spot's unwavering loyalty. While Rohit  had taken him in, we often joked about how Spot had chosen him instead. They took walks together, and Spot wouldn't eat unless Rohit spoke to him and cajoled him into eating. They often stood together in silence; Spot enjoying the proximity to his new owner, and Rohit enjoying his cigarette and a book. Rohit was the strict disciplinarian, who didn't tolerate any mischief. This meant, Spot couldn't steal slices of cake off the table top, or dig his nose into the bin, (or knock down Aarit who was now walking around the house, squealing happily every time he saw Spot). And at night, Spot wouldn't settle down on his cushion, in his bedroom, till Rohit had said good night to him. 

Spot has been with us for over a year now. He doesn't limp anymore, and since he first moved in, he has been neutered, vaccinated, and taken trips to the kennel (something he dislikes) during our holidays. He is bigger and stronger, though he still remains playful and excitable when allowed in. He is as vocal and open about his happiness, as he is about his sorrow. With Rohit away for most of this month, we now have to deal with his whining. Even the food, the walks, and the petting (courtesy: Ammamma) don't seem to help! For one day, he gave up food and water, till Ammamma managed to entice him with a bowl of warm rice cooked with a generous helping of meat.

Spot currently shuttles between his room and the balcony. With the kids, I'm still a little uncomfortable with this giant ball of excitement pounding down the stairs, knocking down things (and Aarit), eating what he shouldn't, and settling down on the bed ( something he doesn't dare do when Rohit is around). While Rohit would ideally like to give him to a home where he'd have lots of space to run around, and lots of hands to pet him, I think Spot is here to stay. And as I said before, he picked Rohit, and I don't think he is going anywhere so soon.

Friday, 1 November 2013

Little Fears

A few days ago, Adiv returned from school looking rather pale and withdrawn. I knew something was wrong, as soon as he stepped off the bus. "Did you get into a fight?" I asked him gently. "No", he growled irritably. "Poopy in school?"  I continued to probe (albeit gently), and he finally told me what was worrying him. On the drive back, he'd seen a group of army guys cross the street. He was worried that the army was gearing up for a war. "Is Pakistan going to attack us now", he asked, looking so worried, I had to hug him. After I explained that no such thing was happening, he seemed relieved. "But what are they doing here", he asked again. "Must be training", I said and he seemed okay with that.

I thought his fears (though unwarranted) were endearing. Nonetheless, I knew his fears were very real to him. So I explained he had nothing to worry, just as I have on several nights checked under beds for monsters, or looked under blankets for dangerous spiders. This is something that comes with the job profile of being a mom. You hunt monsters, drive them away with prayers, and listen patiently to every nightmare (or simply look at his face till he is fast asleep, just because it makes him feel safe). Most importantly, you simply listen to everything your child has to say, just so you hear their fears.

According to Spock, Adiv is at that age when kids have a lot of fears. So if he isn't worrying about the strands of grey (that have begun showing with alarming frequency) on my head, he worries about when I will go to heaven (i'm glad he doesn't think I have a ticket to hell). Like a lot of kids his age, he doesn't completely understand death, but we had to have that talk, when Rohit's dad passed away a few years ago. Adiv was younger then, but since then, he has frequently questioned me about Big Dada. Telling him that he was in heaven, seemed to satisfy him initially. Infact, for the longest time he imagined heaven to be this beautiful place that housed God, Big Dada, and Micheal Jackson. Then came questions about where heaven was, why they didn't have telephones, why we couldn't travel to (and back) heaven for a visit. But now, at 5 (2 months away from turning 6), he understands death to be final, and it frightens him. But then, as an after thought he is glad we're all far far away from turning 100, because that's when he thinks people will die.

This stage is just a phase according to Spock, but I don't know if you ever really stop worrying or fearing the unknown. Only, as a parent, I now fear cycle accidents, falls from the slippery slide, accidents during a game of football, and illnesses. I worry when he is late, or when he is out and it has begun raining. I worry about whether he has enough friends and if he is happy. I worry about whether he will be bullied by the older kids, or beaten even. Then I also worry about whether he is growing up to be a decent human being, who in addition to being funny and entertaining, is also kind and good.

And just as I assure him when he is scared, he assures me of his safety.
"Don't worry, I'm very careful."
"Don't worry, when I see a car zooming by (!!!!!!), I pedal like a super hero and reach a safe zone."
"Don't worry, if anyone is bad to me, I will punch them because I am so strong" (!!!!!)
I bet this is something that no book on parenting talks about!:)