Thursday, January 14, 2016

Lessons From a Hedgehog

I had planned to have nine children.  I was one of nine. I loved being part of a large family. I was the third oldest and I was certain that I wanted to have a large family.
I admire the women who love/loved being pregnant.  I was not one of them.  I was horribly sick for many months during my first pregnancy and my second.  When I had Jack, my first, I remember thinking, "Holy shit.  How am I going o pull this off? I know nothing about being a mother."  What I did know was how to do many tasks that came along with motherhood. Changing diapers, getting bottles ready, holding a baby, bathing a baby, etc. 

What took me by surprise was the unbelievable responsibility I felt immediately after having my first.  I was certain that I did not have the adequate skills to carry the responsibility of being good enough to help this baby grow up.  But in realizing this, I already had Jack, so I had no choice but to move forward and hope for the best.  When Jack was about 4 months old, we decided to have another.  I knew my number 9 was not going to happen.  I felt barely capable enough to do good enough with one, but we wanted Jack to at least have the opportunity to have a sibling.  I certainly didn't want to add that my list of something I had deprived him of. Emma was born 10 months later and we had our little family. Once Emma was born, I began to think, "Ok. I can do this.  This might actually work out alright."  I was fortunate in that I was able to stay home with them and I did.  I did love being with them.  
16 years later
Jack is now 16, a junior and only two weeks away from getting his drivers license. He is currently happy to give me constant tips on how my driving could be better ;)
He is a funny kid.  He doesn't take things too seriously. He is very good for Bill and I.   Most of what he chooses to do has to have an element of fun or at least purpose.  Therefore, he is not fond of cleaning his room because the mess doesn't bother him, but he's willing to do it once a week because I tell him he has to.  And homework is not on the top of his list, but he does it because he has his eye on Northeastern University.
Emma is 15, a sophomore and loves to perform.  She has learned and can sing an incredible amount of Broadway musical songs and will belt one out at the dinner table, while driving, or on her way down the ski slope. 
She is very dedicated and very thoughtful. 
Because of her carefree theatrical tendencies, you can imagine that when she asked me, just a few weeks before the holidays, for a hedgehog, I at first thought she was just messing around with me.  After all who would want a hedgehog for a pet.  When she assured me that she was not kidding, that she really wanted one, I asked, "Can you even have a hedgehog for a pet." And "Where would you even get one?"
And this is where the thoughtful part of Emma came into play.  Not only had she researched the care and the expense, but had found a certified Hedgehog breeder, which happened to be only half an hour away from us.  At first I told her, "Absolutely, NO.  I was not going to be taking care of a hedgehog.  I don't have the time or the desire to add one more thing to..."

She stopped me mid sentence and made it very clear that the reason she wanted one was because she wanted to be responsible for it.  Something that was hers,that she would need minimal support with.  She told me the maintenance was reasonable and that she has money saved to contribute to the initial expense and will use allowance money to pay for bedding and food.   After a very long and heartfelt conversation, including an exit strategy in the event that it wasn't working out and a PowerPoint presentation to convince her father, it was decided that Emma would be allowed a hedgehog. 
The teenage years are hard because it's hard in knowing when to step back sometimes and just let them go. Jack is only a year and a half away from college and Emma just 2 ½.  In many ways, they will be on their own to figure out so much.  When Jack walks out the door, gets into a car to dive off with his friends, I just can hope he makes the best choices. 
And this was the lesson for me with Emma and her beautiful, not so soft, hedgehog, Hedgewig Maz.  Step back and let her take lead in this part of her life. 
Driving home with Hedgewig for the first time amusingly reminded me of driving home my first baby for the first time.  Hedgewig was in a box with Emma holding her on her lap.  She was concerned when I drove too quickly over a bump and concerned that he may not be warm enough.  I told her I would drive more carefully and of course I was happy, as a Bikram student, to turn up the heat in the car!
I knew we had made the right choice and was happy for Emma.
During Hedgewig's first few weeks, it was important that Emma handle her daily so she gets used to Emma's scent and identify her as her caretaker to become comfortable with her.  I walked in one night, with Hedgwig and Emma sitting together.  Emma said to me, "I don't think she likes me.  She keeps curling up in a ball when I go to hold her."  I said out loud, "Better get used to that.  It will happen all throughout parenting. You both are just figuring your stuff out together."   At that Emma smiled.
Lessons From A Hedgehog (Featuring a Teenage Girl)
Greetings from the Teenage girl mentioned above! I see my momma has taken a very educated and insightful view into my desire for a hedgehog. I do not have such a view. For me it's simple, Hedgehogs are really cute and I just wanted my own so we can be best friends. Also, it doesn't hurt that now I can look at her adorable little face forever because "I decided a while ago not to deny myself the simpler pleasures of existence" (John Green, The Fault in Our Stars).
I mean just look at Hedgewig's face it's great and I make her sit in little teacups, which I doubt she enjoys but she will learn to love it, and I thoroughly plan to force her to love me; this is a run on sentence but I imagine it represents my thoughts at the moment so I'm sticking with it. Wooh. Deep breath.
Well I hope you've enjoyed my ranting as you've been simply grand for getting through it!
Emma Barrett
Post Scriptum:
The "powerpoint" my mom mentioned above was literally a drawing of a hedgehog on a chalkboard; however, I like to think that my extreme skill at drawing hedgehogs resulted in getting permission to adopt Hedgewig.

POST post Scriptum:
Her name is totally awesome because it is both a pun and a reference to Harry Potter's pet owl, Hedwig. But she's Hedgewig because she's a hedgehog! Ha! Punpunpunpunpun

No comments:

Post a Comment