Springingtiger's Blog

November 27, 2013, 08:05
Filed under: autism, Parenting | Tags: , , , ,

There is an image that has haunted me for fifty-four years, and is as vivid in my mind’s eye now as it was when I saw it at the age of four. Behind our garden in Hawkswick we had a steep,  but terraced garden and in that garden a stone outhouse. Four year-olds like to explore their world and the garden was my domain. One day I was in the outhouse when I found two enamel buckets, one inside the other, and in the upper, a brick. Thinking to play with the buckets, I removed the brick and separated the buckets; the lower bucket contained water and in the water half a dozen puppies who had been held under the water by the upper bucket.

I do not know how long it took for my mother to calm me down,  but the memory remained. I will not call the drowning cruel; we lived in a farming community and drowning was a quick and efficient way to be rid of unwanted puppies. It was how things were, but it remains with me. It was the first death I encountered, but by no means the last; it was not long before we saw rabbits in broad daylight running in circles instead of hiding as they succumbed to the insanity of Myxomatosis. The rabbits deaths were horrible and sad, but it is the puppies who linger in my memory. I think it is because that was the day the world ceased to be a safe place.  That was the day the innocence of childhood came face to face with the reality of death and the realisation that people kill. When the innocence is torn from us we can never get it back. That was the day I was thrown out of the garden of Eden.

I have, since then,  seen many deaths and encountered facets of human behaviour that horrify and disgust me. I wonder, sometimes, if I have not become inured to cruelty,  suffering and death. However as long as those puppies haunt my thoughts I know I have not. My little granddaughter is about the age I was then, I dread the day she has a “puppies in a bucket” moment. Too many children are made to grow up too quickly, we should make the transition from childhood as gentle as we possibly can.


4 Comments so far
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Drowning puppies (and kittens) is cruel… the drowning sensation creates panic in those animals as well as it would in humans. That they were in the same bucket would have made it worse; as they would most likely have trashed around amongst each in panic. That it is convention (or was… hopefully) may make it socially acceptable in those communities, but is does not make it not cruel.

Besides, it was not only animal cruelty but also inconsiderate to humans – to leave the bucket unattended in a location where it could be found by a 4 year old kid.

Comment by Mados

I agree, however it was the way things were. Animals were functional and budgets tight. It was a different age.

Comment by springingtiger

When I was a child, I was involved in few instances hurting animals (either directly or indirectly). I feel bad for each of those mistakes.

I don’t however remember a single instance changing my world view. As a child when I read the story of Buddha, I wondered how can a single instance changed his world view.

I wonder some of us are in denial mode (like me), what is why we don’t see such a dramatic transition.

Comment by Siva

I would say it depends on one’s circumstances. We are all different; some people survive horrific childhoods with no obvious effect, for others it takes a moment to have one’s world turned upside down. It is only necessary for the combination of personality and circumstances to bring about a “break in belonging” that is a realisation that the world and one’s place in the world are a completely opposed illusion to that hitherto believed. It was not his encounters with life that brought about Buddha’s enlightenment, they simply plunged him into a different illusion uncomfortable enough to inspire him into action.

Comment by springingtiger

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