The first time I lived with cats, it took me more than a week to stop covering my face if one of them climbed into bed. I was convinced they were going to bite my face while I slept. I have no idea where this anxiety came from, but I could see it, their opened mouths with fangs poised. It was OK, of course, they were much more likely to tear the shit out of my back leaping on me when I climbed from the shower.
Still. If you put a new creature on my lap, and that new creature happens to excel at climbing, it turns out my anxiety is that he’ll bite my face. Which is why, as Haku the hedgehog ascended my torso, I closed my eyes, and whispered, “Mary!” in that please-please-save-me from this creature that weighs like 10 grams way.
Hedgehogs pick up on mood. Like dogs, but more so. So, if you’re anxious about the creature scaling your chest, he’s suddenly anxious as he’s scaling your chest. And if he has bristling spines, well, good luck with that.
Be calm in the face of the unknown. That’s a fun challenge. Last night he was in bed with us while we watched a movie, and Mary knitted, and he’d already climbed up her arm, and nestled at the back of her neck, shielding himself from the overhead light with her hair. She knitted away like she was unaware of her own courageousness. He climbed back down and looked up at me.
“What’s going on, guy?” He smelled me and rooted around and chewed on my shirt and then tucked against me and went to sleep. He’d wake up periodically and look at me. We’re working it out. It’s just infancy, man. That’s all. Novice level.