Tuesday, March 29, 2011

When I grow up, I will be a... (III)

When I grow up, I will be a zookeeper or something.

One of the most important things that we teach the children and value as highly as honesty and humility is kindness to animals. I constantly warn the twins not to trample on ants, snails and anything that induces their Godzilla complexes. I use it to teach them empathy.

Mommy: Don't step on the ant?
Evan/ Jordan: Why?
Mommy: Because the Mommy ant will be said if the ant died. Just as if something happened to you, Mommy would be sad.
I haven't been able to teach Muffin that yet because he isn't cognizant enough and is pre-verbal.

I am however pleased that I haven't needed to introduce animals to Muffin in a non-threatening way. The twins needed slow introductions to dogs because of a big fierce German Shepherd near their Grandma's that would constantly bark boomingly at them. He seems to naturally gravitate towards them, nattering away ninety to a minute in Muffinspeak.

Muffin's experience with dogs are the smaller, apartment variety. He has learnt a word that approximates "dog" when he sees them. He is excited and thrilled to see dogs. But what he really looks forward to doing every morning, when he sends us off to work/school is to look for his cat. This cat is tame and is looked after by the animal-loving residents around our neighbourhood. In fact, all three kids love him. The twins tumble out of the lift full speed, looking for the cat, yelling "C-A-T! CAT!" while they search for him. Sometimes, their loud shouting scares off other cats and the twins have often given chase. I do stop them, once again using it to teach empathy.

Mommy: Don't chase the cat, please!
Evan/Jordan: Why?
Mommy: Would you like it if someone chased you just for fun?
So they don't. And Muffin takes his cue from them. They approach the cat quietly as I have taught them and they let the cat come to them. Then they descend upon the cat in a cloud of unbriddled affection. That scares me, slightly, because I know cats are unpredictable and could all of a sudden give a swipe. On top of that, I worry about the combination of sensitive, asthmatic lungs and cat dander. Thankfully, that cat is unassuming and allows us to to do almost anything with him. And the kids all know that they need to clean their hands after they play with the cat.

One reason why I would like the children to have the experience of living overseas is so that they can have a pet. Not a hamster or something from the rodent variety but a nice big dog that they can look after and take for walks. But until then, the neighbourhood cat will have to suffice.

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