Happy New Year, y’all


So, we have ushered in yet another New Year. How I know, you ask. The calendar, people. Duh! Dad got home a brand new one, mama discarded the one hung on her kitchen wall, the maid rolled it up and kept it in a corner, and I got to run around the house with a calendar in my mouth, pretending to be one of those good dogs who fetch the morning newspaper for their humans. I pity those guys though. Soon, I got tired of it, so I held the damn thing between my paws, shredded it to pieces, and made a big mess on the carpet and the floor etc.

But that’s not all. While you humans were busy ringing in the New Year, partying till dawn and getting wasted, I had a little party of my own going on. First of all, I went to this New Year’s Eve lunch, and spend a whole afternoon basking in the sun. There some really tiny pups right across the road from me, and I was all like ‘awwww, how adorable’. But then, my human baby, along with this other human I really like, went out play with them, and I kinda lost it. Hello, I’m right here! Play with me! So, I spent the rest of my time there barking and making these little pooches crap their pants. Lots of fun.

When we got back home, dad’s sister was already there, bags in tow, waiting for us. So, I figured she was going to spend some days with us. Oh man, what a brilliant twist to wrap up the year with. She, like the rest of my human family, loves me to bits. The cherry on the cake is that she actually prefers me to all the humans in my house, including the baby version. You know what that means? Lots of petting and playing fetch. So, I hopped and skipped and squealed with joy.

The evening turned out to be exactly how I had imagined – lots of petting, sneaking into her blanket and playing ball. I even stole some of baby’s toys in my exuberance and chewed on them. Then the humans got all dressed up and perfumed, and went out to party, which meant I had the house to myself. I spent some time on my treats but I’m kinda starting to get bored of those too cuz they always taste the same.

Since, it was New Year, I decided to have a little party of my own and got on the sofa, which I’m not allowed to do by the way. But what’s the point of being home alone, if you are not going to break a few rules. The cushions felt like heaven against my back. I sat there somewhat tentatively at first. You know that feeling of being somewhere you don’t belong. The cushiony sofa soon eased away all my awkwardness and I stretched myself into a comfortable position. The plan was to get off it before my humans returned and keep with the whole ‘I’m such a good boy’ act. Soon, sleep came calling. I curled up and slept. It was only when my humans walked in on my sleeping on the sofa that I actually woke up. Mama shrieked a little upon seeing what I was up to, and then they were all in splits. She just tapped me on the head, called me a spoilt brat, kissed me good night and went on her way. That was that.

Been using that sofa as my bed for three nights now. 2017 is off to an awesome start.

The Noise of Notes

So the day before yesterday, my humans were at the dining table and I had snuck into my usual cosy corner next to it – my way to being a part of the family meals – when dad announced that some guy called Modi had banned something called 500 and 1,000 rupee notes.

‘Don’t believe everything that’s circulated on social media,’ mama commented rather condescendingly. Not so long after, her phone beeped and she nearly shrieked, ‘hell yes, he has banned those currency denominations!’ And what followed was hectic activity around the house. Everyone was tapping intensely on their phones, someone ran to switch on the TV and pressed the remote harder than usual in an attempt to get to some news channel quickly. I had no idea what the hell was up, but I too walked from room to room urgently, trying to pretend I gave a shit about whatever it was that had sent my humans into this sudden state of frenzy.

After sometime my peeps settled down in front of the TV, I too entered the room and sat next to the bean bag (my favourite spot in the bedroom, yeah). Since everyone was looking at the TV screen so intently, I decided to follow their lead. Now people, my vision isn’t exactly like yours. I see things through a prism of black and white haze, something like that x-ray image you folks get when you are not feeling too well (yeah, I know about it cuz my humans put me through that too!). So, I saw this guy, a little stout, half-balding and sporting a beard, using some words like corruption, fake currencies and some such, telling my humans why these note things will no longer be useful to them.

This was followed by a heated discussion, with half the humans in the house calling this TV guy’s move a smart one, while others saying it was just another gimmick that looked good on paper but won’t have any real consequences. This went on for a while. Then, my mama’s dad called to tell her that upon hearing the news her mom had fished out as many as 45 of these note things for an exchange. It was apparently a funny thing, because my mama couldn’t stop laughing and I could hear her dad in splits on the other end of the line. I think it is unfair though. Mama’s mom puts in some serious effort to build these little stashes of these note things and then some guy on TV says something and bam!, she has to dish out her little fortune to have it exchanged.

I remember how she had to get a fat bundle of these notes exchanged in the past cuz the TV guy said that currency older than a certain time period will no longer be accepted. Her secret stash of cash is a matter of some kind of an ongoing family joke which I just don’t get. After mama was done laughing, it occurred to her that she too had her share of those note things to worry about, so wallets were brought out and these pieces of paper counted.

Mama seemed really worried that she had only Rs 160 worth of usable currency left, the rest had suddenly become redundant. She kept saying how the hell were we going to buy groceries – milk, veggies and blah blah I lost her at veggies, but the thought of not having milk in the house worried me too. Does that mean I’ll have to go without breakfast? And what about our baby human? She kind of loses it if she doesn’t get her share of milk whenever she wakes up from sleep. Dude, I just hope they can keep the milk coming though cuz I just can’t handle all those wailing sounds. My ears hear things at an inflated decibel level and all, and those baby cries really hit where it hits the most.

By the way, what is the big deal about these note things? What do you humans use them for? Mama hasn’t really bothered telling me.

They Brought Home a Baby Human!!!

It was an unusual evening. We were back at my mama’s parents’ home in Nahan (come to think of it, we spend an obscene amount of time there) and there was an unusual humdrum about the house. Everyone was asking mama to relax, stay calm but she seemed really ruffled up and uneasy. Dinner was done but no one seemed in the mood to hit the bed. Instead, bags were brought out and my humans began packing in haste. I was losing my mind at the sight of all these bags. Whenever these folks pack their bags, I get a sinking feeling that they are going to leave me behind and go away forever.

And that night, I was going to live my worst fear. No one touched my leash, my food bowls stayed in place. I waited anxiously for them to pick up my stuff, cuz I don’t care where the hell they are going. I HAVE to go along.

The driver rolled out the car, bags were neatly stashed in the boot. I was watching the drama unfold from a window, crying, howling and barking in my not-so-subtle attempt to remind them that they were forgetting something behind. Just before it was mama’s turn to sit in the car, she dashed back in the house. I jumped with excitement. After all, she was coming back for me. Instead, she planted a kiss on my forehead and asked me to be a good boy while she was gone, promising to be back soon. I retired to a corner and sobbed quietly after everyone had left. One of mama’s uncles had kindly agreed to keep me company while my humans were gone but I couldn’t care less. I wanted my mama. I cried.

The next morning, mama’s dad was home to look after me. I was relived but there was still no sign of mama. I waited and waited, hours turned into days and an entire week rolled by but she didn’t return. I was convinced that mama had finally left me. There was no better explanation to my predicament. I beat myself up for being too naughty. Why else would my doting mama just abandon me like that!

Just when I had given up all hope, mama’s parents came back home, and dad’s parents – who live in some other house far, far away – were with them. My joy knew no bound, they were back, my humans, my family. I went berserk, jumping all over the house and licking whoever’s face I could reach and howling with excitement. It took me a minute to realise my folks were still not there but it was still better than not having anyone around. I had barely settled down when mama walked in, she looked frail and tired. Dad was home too, he was holding her, helping her walk. I gave a repeat of my I’m-happy-you-are-home performance.

In my excitement, I did not notice that mama’s mom was holding something in her arms when she walked through the door. She placed that lump-like thing in the centre of the bed. The madness in me subsided and everyone settled down for tea. I lay at mama’s feet and cried softly as she stroked my head. And then, I heard someone else cry. It was an unfamiliar voice. I looked around to see what the hell was up. The sound was coming from that lump-like thing mama’s mom had brought into the house. I propped myself on the bed to take a closer look, mama warned me to be careful, to keep my paws away. I looked down and saw a baby human! My folks brought home a baby human!!!

Dad said they had brought home a little sister for me to play with but mama kept telling me to stay away from the tiny human lying next to her. How the hell was I gonna play with her if I wasn’t allowed to touch her. They never stop me from touching my chew toys, then why not her. When I didn’t listen, mama chided me and asked me to go away.

Dude, I was overwhelmed with all these mixed emotions. I mean here I was missing mama so much that barely ate while she was gone and there she was getting herself a new baby. Who was ever gonna love me again now that they have a tiny baby human to play and cuddle with. I went to the corner just like mama asked me to and sulked. All this while I was thinking mama was growing fat cuz she was too lazy to get moving and here she was growing a baby in her belly. And no one bothered to tell me about it the whole time. Or maybe they did mention something about a baby a few times. I can’t seem to recall.

This baby human slept next to my mama, fed off her, got more than her fair share of cuddles and what not. My fate now was to sulk in a corner for the rest of my life, I was convinced.

When Mama Grew Fat

Hello, peeps!

It’s been two long years since we last met cuz mama has been a lil too busy doing her own thing all this time. Bummer! So, how have you all been? Awesome as before, I presume.

A lot has transpired in these two years and I can’t wait to share it all with you. Let me begin with the story of the time my mama grew fat.

It was a long, long time ago. Three years in human time, actually. But seems like forever to me. We were at my mama’s place – this beautiful hill town they call Nahan. I think I have told you guys about it before. Or have I? Can’t seem to recall – when suddenly she got sick AF. Like all the freaking time I would just hear her gurgling and throwing up. Now, just imagine if I were in her place. They would have taken me to that brutal human they call the ‘vet’, poked needles in my veins, put me on IV drips and taken me off food. Also, I would’ve gotten yelled at occasionally for doing my business on the carpet or the floor mats, which I just don’t get…like, hello, I’m saving you the trouble of cleaning disgusting puke off the floor. These humans cannot get simple logic sometimes. It makes me laugh out loud in my head.

Anyhow, mama also didn’t do her business on the carpet. She would dash off to what these people call the bathroom – I rarely ever get to see the inside of that part of the house – instead. So okay, at least the same rules apply to all of us.

Instead of taking her to the vet or giving her IV drips, all my human folks just went mad over making her eat. Let the poor girl give her tummy some rest, people. But no, they kept obsessing over what she was eating and how much she was eating. I mean sometime poor mama wouldn’t have even stepped foot outside the bathroom and her mommy would go running to her with a glass of juice or a bowl of nuts or one of the zillion other things you humans eat.

And lo and behold, in no time my mama was sporting a big paunch on her belly. Not only did she grow fat, she also grew lazy. Suddenly, I was not allowed to jump on her anymore and she no longer coaxed me to play fetch or chased after me in our little lawn. And of course, she kept getting fatter by the day because that’s what happens when you sit idle on your bum all day long and EAT. Oddly, both she and daddy were really excited about this getting fat business. My humans are a little weird like that, I tell you.

Me? I just wished I knew how to tell her to get off her ass and go for a run or something already cuz I really missed our play dates.

On the Road Again

Hello Humans! How have you all been? Missed me this past week? I’m sorry I couldn’t keep my date with y’all last week ‘cuz I was on the road again. Daddy managed a week’s leave and we set out from good old LGJ on the same daddy’s home, mama’s home and a little holiday circuit. Or so I thought.

But I had a hunch it wasn’t one of those ordinary trips we have been making in the past. For starters, the house we lived in looked nothing like what it used to during our last couple of days there. Slowly and steadily, mama removed all the fancy things and tucked them away in big black boxes, and then soon even the not-so-fancy things started making their way from shelves to cartons and boxes. All this while, I’d wonder what the hell is up. But you know how my mama is. I thought she must be on one of her trips and didn’t really bother to delve deeper into the matter. It was only half way through our so-called vacation that I realized we were never going back to LGJ. Yes, you heard me. We don’t live in LGJ anymore. And you know what’s worse? We don’t even know where we’d live from now on.

Can you believe it? I don’t have a home to call my own anymore. They call it posting or something, where basically you pack up all your stuff in these big black boxes I told you about and head off to a new place, except we don’t know what that new place is going to be. Ever since I discovered this whole packing and moving business, I have been keeping my ears open for any information on where we are headed next. But mama is forever telling people, ‘we don’t know anything for sure yet. You know how things can be’. Will somebody please tell her I don’t know how things can be? I’d really like an answer to that question and about right now would be great.

Right now, we are at mama’s parents’ and daddy has already gone some place. He also took the car with him. No daddy, no car, no home! You have no idea how heartbreaking it can all be. No, I’m not complaining. Life is good at mama’s too, but it is just not the same. There are lots and lots of people and vehicles on the road and so, I can’t roam about freely. They even take me out for walks on a leash and I hate it to my guts. Imagine if someone put a collar around your neck and walked you on a tight rope. You wouldn’t be thrilled either. Well, anyway giving mama puppy eyes doesn’t help ‘cuz I don’t know how to maneuver my way around vehicles and she is forever petrified of me being run over by a speeding truck or something.

Apart from the freedom to walk around as I pleased, I also miss LGJ for its nilgai I so loved chasing. The sight of me scared the life out of them and I loved giving them a good chase till I could no longer catch my breath. Now, it is almost impossible to do that. On my second day here, I tried chasing a freaking monkey and ended up with a hot pebble stuck inside my paw. The darned thing peeled off some of the skin and I have been limping around since. So basically, I’m a reflection of a pretty sad bugger these days. Hope things will look up by the time we meet next.IMG_0411.jpg

The Forbidden Fruit

My daddy always says one must not wash one’s dirty linen in public. Don’t really know what that means; I guess something to do with not letting your darkest deepest secrets out in the open. But aren’t we all friends now? And friends don’t have secrets. Right? So I’ll just spill the beans.

I’m sure you all have a peculiar fetish or two, you are not particularly proud of. So do I – cow dung. Dried cow dung cakes, actually, and my humans are none too happy about it. Yeah, yeah, go ahead and judge me all you want but it is just one of those things I have no control over. I have almost no memory of how I got started on this road but I’m sure it would have happened somewhat like this – on one of my walks I must have been drawn to the smell, ended up using my tongue to inspect the gooey green substance and developed a taste for it. I was a little baby when it all started and didn’t really know the habit would be frowned upon in the human world, but something inside me told me to be discreet about it.

So, I’d go around sneakily looking for dried up pieces of dung. To my utter pleasure, there was never dearth of those babies getting wasted by the roadside. I’d pretend to sniff the ground in pursuit of an appropriate wee-wee spot and grab a mouthful when mama or daddy weren’t looking. But it wasn’t long before my secret came out in the open. Oh boy, were they mad or what! It was the first time daddy cracked a whip on my bum, and mama chided me angrily, tapping pretty darn hard on my snout. I just gazed at them with my puppy eyes, trying to make sense of why all hell broke loose on my world suddenly. Since it all happened immediately after they caught me feasting on some poop, it wasn’t rocket science to figure out what had brought such wrath upon me. I’m not stupid or anything. I just had trouble figuring out why they were so angry. If they knew how delicious dried cow dung can taste, they’d know better than going all red-faced on me.

Anyway, like always, mama seemed to have totally lost it after she ‘caught me in the act’. Daddy cooled down and even patted me lovingly soon after. She, however, thought I was some sick pervert, and launched a Google search on that laptop thing she uses so often to find out what the hell I was up to and why. She learnt it was Coprophagia, a phenomenon pretty common in dogs and a whole lot of other four-legged creatures. Now, you’d imagine that would calm her down. But no, she decided we needed to visit the vet and figure out a way to put an end to this ‘gross’ habit. Guess what? The doctor said there was no good explanation as to why some dogs like to eat poop, and so, there was nothing that can be done to stop the behaviour besides keeping a vigilant eye on me. Tee hee. A free joy ride and no pills or injections; I’m thinking that vet fellow isn’t such a villain, after all.

Mama kept telling daddy that they ought to be more careful, because I lick her face to wake her up in the morning, and the mere thought of a tongue that feasted on poop touching her face made her sick in the stomach. Well hello, I use the same tongue to lick my ass. That doesn’t seem to be such a problem. Women!

My humans don’t seem to buy that logic and so cow dung is pretty much forbidden fruit. Did I give it up? They’d wish. Yes, it would be nicer if I could indulge in it more often. But every now and then, I manage to grab a mouthful and run for my life.

The World beyond My Oyster

Oh, these atrocious days of summer make me so miserable! All I want to do is sleep like a log in that air-conditioned room (it feels like an altogether different world in there). It is also pretty much what I do these days. Close to 18 hours of sleeping and lazying around. Talk about life being awesome. Poor daddy has to go to work, and a reluctant mama also has to get off her butt and get certain things done too, but I can sleep all I want and my humans even feel sorry for ‘the poor kid having to put up with all the heat’.

Anyway, so since I have heaps of free time, I was just reminiscing about my first vacation the other day and thought I’d share with y’all. I was a little over four months old when daddy got the much-coveted ‘chutti’ and my folks decided to take a trip to Nainital. I have heard the poor fellows didn’t get a proper honeymoon and all because of the same ‘chutti’ situation and desperately needed to get out of Lalgarh Jattan, or hell-hole as mama refers to it. They were going to be gone a fortnight and I was still pretty tiny and weak, so they decided to take me along.

You have no idea how kicked I was because I love sitting in that thing they call the car, gaze out of the window and bark at random stray animals. But this trip I’m telling you about was nothing like the previous ones I had taken. Until now, all my car trips had been to that crazy fellow called the vet. I don’t why he loves poking things in and around my ass, and I hate his guts for that; but considering I get a free joy ride, lots of patting and a chew bone for treat, it isn’t such a bad bargain after all.

This trip, on the other hand, just didn’t seem to end and we didn’t return home at night too (which I figured is what being away for a fortnight means and thank god they decided to take me along). We first stopped over at daddy’s parents’ place, which is always lots and lots of fun because they love me to bits. They call me ‘adi’ (short for Adolf) and I have a strong feeling mama doesn’t like that pet name much, she prefers dolfie. If you ask me, both names suck and sound kind of gay and inappropriate for a macho GSD like me. Ah well, I’m just a dog, what do I know, right?

After chilling at dad’s, we went over to mama’s parents’ place too. There were kids who were super excited and scared to see me, and a hell lot of people dropping by every now and then. I had never seen so many people together in one place before, and I kind of went berserk with excitement. Every once in a while someone would drop by to meet my humans and ask for me too. I’d be paraded into the room, and despite my best efforts I couldn’t control the excitement of seeing a new human every time, so I’d hop and jump all over the place and someone would invariably start squealing and that would be the end of my rendezvous. It always ended with me being led out of the room before I could even chill with all these new humans. All this socializing can be pretty taxing for a little pup. Both daddy and I took our fair share of time getting used to the bonhomie. Now we are okay.

If you thought all the socializing was over and we’d finally get to that much-talked about vacation in Nainital, you are as mistaken as I was. Our next stop was Dehradun, and there were just as many people to meet and greet there too. Mama’s family can easily outnumber the population of Vatican City, I swear.

When we finally hit the road, the journey seemed to last forever and it felt like I grew up a few months while we were in that car. Nainital, or whatever I saw of it – the old British era guest room, the spacious lawn around it, constant floating clouds and light drizzle – was beautiful. My humans took me out for walks wherever permitted, and I accompanied them on road trips to some nearby places. On one such trip, daddy literally pushed mama over a cliff and she flew. You should have seen the look on her face; the poor thing seemed to be dying a little.

There was a lovely, colourful umbrella on her head and she went up, up and away, till we could no longer see spot her in the sky. I thought we lost her forever because daddy was in a hurry to get in the car, leaving her behind. I tried to resist but what chance does a measly pup stand in front of a big six-foot tall guy. He managed to put me in the car in a jiffy and drove away. I was all sad about having lost mama, and a little scared too, but then she appeared out of nowhere, sporting an ear to ear grin. I couldn’t thank lord enough for having sent her back. What would I do without her!

Those were the Days

Remember how the last time I told pooping and peeing was pretty much what I did for the first few months of my life. Well, turns out not really. After giving it much thought, I realized I also nibbled on everything I could lay my paws (no jaws) on. I was teething and all, and my jaws itched like madness. So, I chewed and nibbled away to glory.

The bath slippers my mama wore had a ladybug on each strap, and those plastic insects worked like a charm on my itchy gums. I accidentally caught them between my pin-like teeth one night, and then just couldn’t stop chewing till there was nothing left of the plastic ladybugs or the slippers. Mama had to walk around barefoot till she finally took out a pair of those jute slippers. Jute slippers! Really, what was she thinking? He will never get past those?

It took less than an afternoon to get every string of jute off those slippers. When mama woke up from her siesta, I had already tattered one and was half way through the other. Tee hee! It was not slippers alone that I nibbled on; I also chewed and tore off cane furniture in the living room and some of daddy’s journals.

Now, I’m extremely smart to you see when it comes to saving my ass. While I always picked mama’s shoes and slippers, I dared not go near her books. God, she would have been so mad if I did. All hell would have broken loose. Who knows she may have even withheld my supply of food. So instead, I tore and chewed all of daddy’s boring military journals that I knew mama didn’t care too much about, and daddy doesn’t have a particularly bad temper, so I survived about alright.

Also back then, mama had lots of free time and we would play around all day. Nowadays, she is mostly glued to that darned thing you all call ‘the laptop’, and I have to roll at her feet sometimes when I really want to be loved and petted. Anyway, it used to be mostly she and I in the house (daddy spends a lot of his time in that place called office), and she would spend hours at end trying to teach me to ‘sit’, ‘sleep’, ‘get up’ and so on. I also got biscuit treats every time I complied. I wonder why they don’t do that anymore. We also played fetch, but mama says I suck at it because I never return her the ball or Frisbee after ‘fetching’ it.

And oh…did I tell you about the food? Man, I was so thin when they got me home that you could count every rib in my body. So, the vet recommended I be fed five times a day. Five! That basically meant eating every couple of hours – dog food, egg, milk, curd, and Cerelac, it was like a constant party in my mouth!

Lots of food, play time and freedom to nibble on anything that caught my fancy. Those were the day, my friend. Those were the days.

Homeward Bound

This is what I looked when my parents brought me home. I remember it was a monsoon evening, and an otherwise desolate Lalgarh Jattan had received a hearty spell of rain. The lights were all gone by the time we reached home, and the expanse of space around scared the life out of me (you see until then my universe was confined to the crate the kennel guy kept me in). For better part of the night, I kept curling up in corners, and my folks had to use flash lights to spot me. I was mostly black back then, which made blending into darkness pretty easy. They would call out ‘Adolf’ repeatedly every time they lost track of me, but I had no clue that’s the name they have picked out for me. I was only a couple of hours old in the household, and it didn’t feel like home yet.

So ultimately, my human folks grew tired of the hide and seek, and decided to close the bedroom door so I wouldn’t sneak out. They slept away to kingdom come, and I was bored out of me skin, so I pooped and peed all over the floor, which is pretty much how I’d spend most of my time for the next couple of months.

Poor mama was on the verge of breaking down when she saw all the mess in the morning, but she didn’t get mad at me, and that’s when my heart began warming up to her. I knew she sulked silently as she cleaned the floors that morning, and several mornings after that. And thus, began the journey of my life.

Sunday was No Funday

Hello folks! How have you been this past week? Had a great weekend and all? Well, mine didn’t go so well. My humans subjected me to a bath. A Bath! My least favourite thing in the whole world. Can you imagine my humans do it every day? Now that it is summer and all, they like to bathe twice in a day even. Crazy fellows, if you ask me.

It was Sunday, and I knew the threat of an impending bath was looming large. But daddy had a busy day ahead; he left for work early and returned only around lunch time. By then, I was already heaving a sigh of relief. My baths are usually scheduled for mornings, and no daddy at home meant another Sunday saved. But my mama, like always, had other plans.

The first thing she did upon daddy’s return home was remind him of my bath being long overdue. And I was like these two need to get a life. I mean, at least ask the man how is day was or why he got so delayed or whine about half a Sunday being wasted or make plans for an evening outing; but no, all she could think of was me and my bath. When my mama has her mind set on something, she neither forgets nor lets others forget. Daddy suggested putting it off till the next Sunday, but she wouldn’t have any of it and I knew I had run out of luck. It is a woman’s world, I tell you.

When daddy called out for me, holding my towel in one hand and shampoo in the other, I once again tried the oldest trick in my book – trying to duck, hide and make myself invisible. But this house is too darned small to have a good hiding spot for me. Nevertheless, I ran amok trying to hide behind curtains, bean bags and under the dining table till there was nowhere else left to go. My folks didn’t even try to catch hold of me; instead, they just stood in a corner and doubled with laughter. What a fool I make of myself sometimes!

Ultimately, I was taken to the bathroom (yes, I’m made to shower in the bathroom because if you bathe me in the open I go and roll over on the ground and become all muddy and grimy) and subjected to a seemingly never-ending bath. When I was little, I used to cry and yelp, hoping my parents would let go of me. But like y’all know, I’m a two-year-old big boy now and big boys don’t cry, except on the inside I still cry like a pathetic child.