We were at our usual neighbourhood playground. Elliott was observing the older kids at play, Moon was standing quietly beside the boy. I was standing beside Elliott and asking him if he’d like to go play on the slide (which is a rhetorical question because, when does he ever NOT want to go on the slide?!)
Suddenly, a boy of about 7-8 years old (could be older – I’m bad at sussing out kids’ ages) ran up towards Moon and tried to smack her on her head.
I’m not actually sure if he was trying to be friendly (!) or was attempting to hit her. It happened so quickly! Thankfully, the husband confirmed that he didn’t manage to touch Moon.
After doing the deed, said kid runs off, laughing loudly, as if he did something really brave and clever. His caregiver (mother? grandmother? nanny?) – who was sitting by a bench and chatting to another lady – said casually in Mandarin: “Eh, cnnot do that ah”.
I was fuming. And shocked.
I turned to the caregiver and said in a firm tone (in Mandarin): Please don’t let your child do that. It is dangerous because not all dogs are friendly and he can get bitten!!
Caregiver mumbles something in reply but did not apologise, nor made any attempt to explain the situation to the kid who has since returned to the slides and went back to running amok.
Moon is generally docile and patient. Some other dogs are not. Some may even bite. For the caregiver to be completely nonchalant about the act riled me. Not only did the kid not ask permission to touch/pet Moon, he ran off laughing, thinking it was really funny to try and hit a dog. And for the caregiver to simply brush it off like it was nothing?
I was livid.
I don’t blame the kid. I blame the caregiver(s) for not teaching the child.
When I read of dogs biting another person in the news, I usually think that there is always two sides to a story. Granted, some dogs bites unprovoked but in reality, dogs give off many non-verbal signals before they resort to biting. And why do dogs bite? They are (probably) threatened or afraid, hence they use the only ‘weapon’ that they have which is their sharp teeth.
We have met many lovely parents/caregivers who would teach the kid to ask permission first before touching Moon. That is right. And only polite. One should always ask permission before touching something that belongs to someone else, right? We always say “Yes, sure!” and have a little chat about Moon and dogs in general. I also take the opportunity to share with the parents/caregivers that not all dogs are calm and patient so PLEASE ALWAYS ASK PERMISSION FIRST and not allow your kid to rush headlong towards a dog. That is just asking for trouble.
After the episode and I was no longer as angry, I did stop and think for a bit.
Perhaps the caregiver was exhausted (as we all are at some point in our parenting journey). Maybe the kid just refuses to listen. Maybe maybe maybe. A thousand maybes.
But if a dog turns around and bites your child, who is at fault? The dog? The dog’s owner? You? Or your kid?
It gets tiring repeating instructions over and over again (I know this well – I’ve been telling Elliott NOT to go into the kitchen, NOT to hit the TV, NOT to crawl to the balcony because it’s dangerous, NOT this, NOT that, and he is still doing it. Repeatedly). But there are some things that are non-negotiables.
Like your kid going up a random dog to smack it on its head because of the dire consequences that could result in that simple “insignificant” act.