This is Hob. Formerly known as Hobbes and now renamed Hob by Isha, my six-year-old daughter. I’ve owned Hobbes for about 15 years or so now. Two nights ago, I officially handed him over to Isha. Here is how it happened. This is going to be a bit long but I really want to remember this in detail even years from now.
I had just put Isha in bed, kissed her goodnight and turned off the light. I was heading to the other room to watch a movie when…
Isha: DAAAD! DAAAAD!!!
Me: (Rushing back) What? What?
Isha: Dad! I’m scared!
Me: Of what? You’re not scared of anything.
Isha: I don’t like it when it’s dark. It scares me. Shahaadhai ves kiyaafin but still I’m scared.
Me: (skeptical) Really? You roam all over the room at night when we are asleep, without turning on any lights. How can you be scared of the dark? Still, I can turn on the light if you want.
Isha: Dhen eyrun I can’t sleep ennun, stupid!
Me: sigh… so what?
Isha: Stay with me. Aadhey Isha kaareega onnan. You can go when I sleep.
Me: Oh dhoonee, I really want to but I have to do some work…
Isha: Movie balan?
Me: What? Noooo? Office work… very busy stuff.
Isha: But dad. I can’t sleep.
Me: Just close your eyes. That’s the first step.
Isha: But dhen eyrun I will see many scary things.
Me: But even if I am here with you, you will still see them when you close your eyes.
Isha: No. Dad mithaa ineema I won’t be alone. With you I’m not scared.
Me: oh you sweet little kid.
Isha: So aadhey!!!
Me: Hmm tell you what. What if I there was someone else here who will protect you while you sleep?
Isha: (gets up from under the blanket, intrigued) Who?
Me: It’s an old friend of mine. You’ve met him already.
Isha: DAAAD! KAAAKU THA??
I take Hobbes out of the drawer where he is kept and show him to Isha, who squeals in delight!
Isha: (jumping up and down on the bed) Really? I can have Hobbes?
Isha: (jump-hugs me and grabs Hobbes) YAY! Thank you, daddy.
Me: Good. So go to sleep now.
Isha: But dad. Are you sure Hobbes can protect me? He’s not real ennun?
Me: Of course, he’s real. He’s a ferocious tiger!
Isha: But he’s so small.
Me: Only when you’re awake. When you’re asleep, Hobbes becomes really big and will protect you against all monsters.
Isha: Really? He will protect me against the curtain monster? And Santhi Mariyambu? And the zombies? And the sharks around the bed?
Me: Yes… wait, what curtain monster?
Isha: What about the shirt monster in the cupboard? And the wheezy monster who goes “snnnnrrrrrrzzzz sssssnrrrrrrrrr”…
Me: eh? Shirt monster? What is…
Isha: And the…
Me: Isha! Yes! He will protect you from all those… but I don’t think I’m going to be getting any sleep tonight. *looking around* What wheezy monster?
Isha: What about dreams. Hobbes will protect me from bad dreams too?
Me: Of course!
Isha. He’s like a dreamcatcher dho?
Me: Yup! Exactly.
Isha: Did he protect you too? When you were a little baby?
Me: hehe no. I wasn’t a little kid when I got Hobbes. When I was little, I didn’t have anyone or anything to protect me from bad dreams. I had to do with a towel over my head.
Isha: hahahah… that’s funny, dad. But you love Hobbes dho?
Me: Yea. He’s special. He did cheer me up a lot of times when I was really unhappy. How can I be unhappy when he looks that cute?
Isha: (laughing) Awww he’s so cute dho, dad? Dad. Why is he called Hobbes? He is only one tiger ennun? Not many.
Me: He’s named after my favourite imaginary tiger. It’s from one of my favourite comics.
Isha: Like a cartoon?
Me: Yes, a bit. When you’re older you will read them too… maybe a few years from now. Or even sooner if you want.
Isha: Ok, dad. But since he’s mine now. Can I name him?
Me:… um… yep. He’s yours, only fair that you should name him. What are you going to call him?
Isha: Hob. He’s just one tiger. So Hob.
Me: (smiling) Right. Hob it is then. Now off you go. I’ll keep him near your pillow so he can protect you from everything.
Isha: Ok, dad. Good night, dad. Good night, Hobbes. I mean, Hob.
Me: Good night, Isha. Sweet dreams, dhoonee.
Within a few minutes, she’s asleep.
Next morning, Isha shakes me awake.
Isha: Dad!!! I didn’t have scary dreams last night. Hob saved me! He’s awesome!!!
Me: Told you. 🙂
Isha: Dad, I love you (hugs me). And Hob says he loves you too.
If there is a more beautiful moment in a parent’s life than when your child hugs you and tells you she loves you, I can’t think of any.