We see a dragonfly while walking down to pick our son up from school. I can’t wait to tell him and hope we can spot it on the walk back home. We do indeed see the dragonfly – its blue shimmering in the sunlight, its body perfectly balanced on the edge of the pavement where it has landed, delicately poised, but as we bend to inspect it further we see its head has been crushed to the pavement. It is dead. My husband picks it up and moves it to the undergrowth. “Some people are so cruel to animals in this world”, my son says, sounding upset and angry and sad. He pedals away on his bike a determined look on his face and I wonder what learning he is taking from life.
We have been to see the litter of puppies from which we will choose one to come home with us. Well, our son has chosen one already, a warm little bundle of black fur, eyes just open, seeking comfort in my sons arms, snuggling up to him and falling contentedly asleep. And I worry already. This is to be my sons dog and I wondered what I would be like, how it would be, how it would feel managing this introduction, this new relationship. So what is the worry about? I know it feels different to be the one not choosing the dog, it feels strange to think about all the other accompanying needs of the puppy but not about the puppy per se. It feels strange to be having a puppy and not an older dog with an established personality to assess and bond with. This puppy feels fragile, small, needy, so unlike the adult dogs I have been used to adopting, big characters immediately filling the house in a big way.
I realise the experience with the dragonfly taps into my feelings, pushes them to the forefront, demands I acknowledge them, that I stop ignoring them and confront the unease that alerts me to their existence. I worry how this will be for our son, what his experience of this will be. I worry there will be heartache and sadness – and I will have opened him up to this, sanctioned this experience, no orchestrated this experience. I worry how fragile it all feels – just as with the dragonfly, how it can all be lost, the excitement given up to sadness.
These are my feelings however, and they relate to my experiences and my fragility. I realise that I am side lining myself from this family event as a defence, creating a distance between myself and the puppy. I am wary of this newcomer, scared of his vulnerability and within this his ability to cause grief and loss. For our son, for us as a family; and for me. What does this say about my vulnerability, my fragility? My sense of my son? What does he need…from me? Maybe I’m going to have to go away and think about all this further. Are there more questions than answers? I know it can often feel that way but sometimes it also feels good just to have asked the questions.