Does it bite?

"Does it bite?" is a question I asked a lot as a kid. It became a long standing joke in the family and always reminds me of my dad. I was on Facebook (as usual) the other day when I scrolled across a friend's post with an assortment of pictures of her and goats, showcasing her fascination for these bleaty blighters all the way from a wee tot to adulthood. I left a comment on her post about an old goaty memory of my own. And that got me thinking about being quite a nervous natured kid. Anything I saw which looked remotely dodgy elicited a shaky "does it bite?" from me! My dad was so used to it that he joked about it all the time and even as I outgrew the question, he would still bring it up.
Most of my posts describe how I shriek a fair bit. I shrieked on the horse, I shrieked when a cow came rushing at me, I shrieked when Mia pulled me down the stairs, I shriek fairly often if Sid startles me, even if the poor chap just walks into the room. I'm a shrieker - always was and always probably will be! I started young - I'd see a bug and immediately ask "does it bite?" and my dad would say "If you bother it, it may", and I'd watch in terrified anticipation, immediately shrieking if the bug as much as stuck a cheeky foot out. We were in Ranikhet on a short break when I was about 6 and a butterfly was flitting about. "Does it bite?". My dad shook his head. Two seconds later the butterfly settled on my thumb, eliciting some ear splitting shrieks, with my dad yelling at me to stop it at once! We later walked over to the mess and there in full burly splendour was a stuffed bear - probably took a whole team of taxidermists on that specimen. It was standing upright with a snarl on its face. I was teased and told to go put my hand in the bear's mouth and since Shaheen was the braver one (and the usual guinea pig) she was made to go stick her hand in the bear's mouth to ensure it wasn't a trap. Her hand coming out intact didn't convince me at all. I wouldn't even take a photograph next to it without my dad standing next to me for protection!
The goaty memory I shared as a comment on my friend's Facebook post was a similar instance. In Bareilly when I was around 6 or 7, there was a fancy dress contest organised for the kids. I dressed up as old favourite - Mary from "Mary had a little lamb" My dad was meant to get me a real lamb who could accompany me on stage. He couldn't manage that and got sent a adult goat instead! I was terrified of the poor thing and so my dad had to come with me on stage, holding the goat. One can imagine how the audience reacted to Mary, her dad and her "not-so-little-and-not-so-lamb"! No animals were harmed during the event, though the goat did eat the potted plants on stage!
"Does it bite" became the standard joke while I was growing up, but even though my dad would tick me off and tell me to shake off this silliness, he never left my side, making sure he was close enough holding the goat or standing between me and a stuffed bear. You can't protect your kids from everything, and you can't let them give into their fears, but he always stayed close enough to try as hard as he could to make sure that "it" never bit 


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