It’s a weekend, so it’s a longer walk and, again, we headed to Mt Victoria. We paused at the side of a wider section of path to allow a family to pass, two adults and three small children. The woman herded the two smallest in front of her with the words: ‘remember when we meet people we have to stay at the side of the path away from them.’ The third child followed, the man trying to hurry her along. Her face was thunderous and she clutched a plastic bag full of what looked like dirt but was clearly treasure she had been prevented from adding to by needing to get along the path and out of our way.
The news the other day featured a report on raising puppies during lockdown, how teaching them to stay away from people would lead them to think that humans were the enemy, therefore making them either aggressive (and possibly dangerous) or a total wuss, running and hiding at the sight of someone who just wanted a cuddle. It must be the same with children, although hopefully without the use of a lead and a ‘heel’ command.
Our current social distancing rules make it challenging for parents of small children. Whilst steering them away from other adults will certainly help in terms of stranger-danger, it must be hard trying to explain why they have to keep their distance from people they meet. Children need to interact with others in order to gain social skills or, like puppies, they become apprehensive of situations that they should feel comfortable in. I was a painfully shy child, terrified at the thought of meeting new people, and even now I don’t approach new social situations easily (ask Neil how hard I can squeeze a hand when I’m nervous). I wouldn’t wish that on anyone, and I admire the way today’s children seem, generally, so much more confident than I will ever be. I just hope that social distancing doesn’t last long enough to make a lasting impression on them and change that.
This is Ivan, possibly the cutest puppy in the world. He lives in Ohakune and, like his predecessor, Cooper, hangs around his human mum’s café and boutique clothes shop at the station, loving the attention from customers. It’s been a few weeks since we saw him and, by the time we can do so again, I expect he will be less of a puppy and more of a big dog!