So I was pushing the pram back home from the childminders with Little A toddling along beside me. The walk takes a nice quiet path before finally meeting a busier road when its time to wrestle Little A back into her pram. I say wrestle as after a jolly jaunt Little A isnt best pleased about having to 'park and ride' home. Anyway this time as we were walking along a bloke with a LARGE black and tan dog appeared heading towards us. Little A was close to me but didnt want to hold my hand. Now Little A LOVES dogs - all dogs. Her obsession with dogs (soon followed by cats, monkeys and pigs) came out of the blue at about nine months. Its funny what babies fixate upon. She'd get so excited when she saw a shaggy mutt plodding along the street. I've never seen anyone enjoy Crufts quite like Little A - that's when she really started paying attention to the telly. When I take her to the park she'll crouch down and kiss the chalk pictures of dogs and cats that older children have drawn. The other weekend she delighted in a puppy frolicking over her and excitedly licking her face.
Big dog was on a lead but as he passed Little A suddenly moved towards her to snuffle and sniff. The owner reassured me that his dog wouldn't cause any harm. But Little A didn't like big dog. She burst out crying, demanded to be picked up (which I did immediately) and clung to me. I felt really stupid. Had I done the wrong thing? Should I've picked Little A up before big dog got too close? I felt I'd let Little A down. Since 'big dog gate' Little A still loves dogs, will say 'ello dogeeee' but is more wary around them. My intrepid little explorer now wants to hold my hand whenever we go walking in the park and stays much closer to me than she did before.
If I'd picked Little A up she would still feel safe around dogs. Big dog stole some of Little A's innocence and trust in the world. But then big dog could have happened at any age; two, three or five. I didnt like big dogs when I was very young.
Still I guess big dog was an important lesson for both Little A and I. For Little A, that although her world is generally a safe place there are things to be careful and wary of. She is already starting to learn about her own limits in the physical world at the tender age of one and a half. For me, that while I have to appropriately protect Little A from danger I need to let go a little and let her experience and learn about the world on her terms.