Hello blogosphere. It's nice to see you again. Today is my Peturday so I will share something about what I have learned so far, raising pets and now my son alongside them.
I admit that I hid from my in-laws, during the early days and months of my son, the fact that cats have indeed been sleeping by his feet and elsewhere nearby. (And if any of them know about my blog, well, now you know my secret.) My husband's family isn't as big on pets as family as we are, or at least I figured that one out based on my father-in-law's casual question while I was pregnant: "What are you going to do about your pets?"
Sorry, Dad, I formed a minor judgment about you then. I'd been receiving calls and Facebook messages about the same issue long before my pregnancy. Which allowed me to take your comment in stride, but also made me take note that there are things I cannot as readily share with you as well as things you and I are likely to disagree on.
My cats and dogs are my first children. I've posted on Facebook before that readers and followers are free to disagree and/or be insulted, but the way I see it, many things I am doing raising my son I learned from raising my pets. Though I must also confess that my pets are hardly the most behaved bunch--something we must improve on with our son.
This early my son interacts and seems to have bonded with our cats and dogs, particularly those we have declared to be his guardians. Yuki and Kuro are our regular bedmates at night and provide him excellent foot warming services. And finally, finally, finally, my eldest cat seems to have forgiven us for bringing home this little human.
It's been difficult to explain to friends and family how beneficial his early exposure is. In truth only one person of my generation has fully backed me up, knowing now important forming animal empathy is to his psychological growth and maturity.
That said, I am very happy that my son has finally been accepted by our pets. He is now as much their human as we are. They are now as much his teachers as we are and I cannot be more pleased about it.
It's a challenge though. I have repeatedly turned down/ignored calls for foster parents to rescued animals. That's the first lesson my pets have taught me: the need for balance. Cheque books and bank accounts have nothing on learning to balance on that fine line between focusing on the human baby's needs while providing the canine and feline babies with the attention they'd grown accustomed to. Something to remember for later when we have another child. Sure they understand that this noisy, needy creature is utterly helpless without me. But they need to get at least a pat on the head every day. They need personal play time. They need to know they are still special.
The second lesson, one I have not yet mastered, is the art of keen observation. See I can do this for writing purposes, but the subtleties of behavior and attitude has continued to elude me. I honestly still feel guilty for missing the signs that one old cat was declining rapidly. And I have two dogs climbing their way to an overweight pronouncement from the vet. Time management is an advanced skill that has yet to make itself known to me. Multi-tasking yes. Time management, no.
Perhaps the most important lesson so far is that bonds are strong between parent and child, whether human or animal. As I said, our cats have taken it upon themselves to watch over my son. Our dogs are his bodyguards. No one comes near our son without the dogs' okay.
I see now how it happened that my cousin's sons were so closely bonded with their parents' cats.
And someday our cats and dogs will be his first heartbreak.