Hang in there!

seriously, kitten? is this how we're going to spend our time?

seriously, kitten, that is not how doors work.

Kittens. I lose.

IMG_1984

Two feline brothers sitting alap the eldest human brother. I’m soooo outnumbered.

No names yet. A whopping two pounds each, fresh from the local shelter.

The kittens adore the boys wild, loud, and subdued. The boys adore the kittens awake, asleep, and playful.

And while the kittens are in their own room, learning the house slowly, I’m very happy with this new development.

Call me next week when the tree is decorated and the kittens have run of the house and we’ll see.

Kittens

I’m being outvoted. Right here, right now.

kittens

The kids want kittens.

Spouse wants kittens.

I’m having nightmares about Black Friday emails and Cyber Monday emails and Last Night of Hanukkah emails about KITTENS.

We’re dog people. And when our cat died earlier this year we were heartbroken. And it took about a week for someone to say, quietly, “time for a dog.”

But I’m not training a puppy. And I’m not socializing an older dog. And I’m not paying a fortune for the medical bills of a senior dog. All of those statements are heartless and cruel, and I don’t care. I don’t need another child, and let’s face it: adding a dog to our family would be as much work as having another child.

It already takes everything I have to keep my boys from killing each other. Every other minute. I’m not going to tell them to stop wrestling the dog, too.

It already takes half an hour to leave the freaking house, trying to keep calm while the fiascos and the fights and the “oh, I forgot!” and the “wait for me!” and the “hey, I want to be first” nonsense ricochets all around me. I’m not adding a leash and a poop bag to that stressful chaos.

So I warmed, a bit, to the idea of cats. It’s been nice not having a litter box. Not worrying about keeping the door closed. Not paying for food and litter and toys and vet bills. Not watching where I step, being awakened by someone other than the three who already wake me, and not worrying about anyone or anything’s poop.

But we already know about cats. We have the stuff. The kids want something small to love.

And who can blame them?

Well, me. I can, if this turns out to be a horrible idea.

We’ve talked about how kittens don’t know the rules, and might fight with feet and hands and backpacks and LEGOs.

They say that’s okay.

We’ve talked about how, if a kitten tries to wrestle your hand or foot you have to say, “uh-oh” and remove that body part from their grasp. And how you have to get a toy as an alternative, but not so quickly that they think they’re being rewarded for clawing and gnawing on human flesh.

They say that’s okay.

We’ve talked about keeping items away from the edges of shelves and about gently removing kittens who jump on counters or tables.

They say that’s okay.

I’m running out of ammunition, people.

Because kittens.

kittens2

Dog or cat

Since our sweet old cat died, the family has been embroiled in a convivial battle of “dog or cat?”

We loved our cats, but we might be dog people.

We adore dogs, but we might be cat people. (Okay, let’s be honest. We’re not cat people. But Spouse misses our cat and I miss our cat and we’re willing to accept that there might be one or two more cats out there somewhere who would be just perfect.)

The kids seem to like both cats and dogs, though they’ve been pressing for a dog. Peanut, our eldest, is an animal whisperer. Living creatures trust him, and he has the right balance of sincere gentleness and authoritative confidence with critters who are not his brother. Dogs love him, cats love him, sheep flock to him. He’s the kind of guy who can convince spiders to walk out the front door (ours is a no-kill house and we usually ask spiders to climb onto a piece of paper for the ride outside). I’ve actually seen cats hiding under a car come out for Peanut only after the rest of us walk away.

Butter, the three-year-old, is unpredictable. (That was redundant, I know. But I’ve heard there are a handful of three-year-olds who don’t calmly pet pets and then shriek and take off chasing them. Or, say, gently carry a duck’s egg for five minutes before pitching it like a baseball. Sorry, farmer lady!) I pity any pet who is near Butter if the wrong mood strikes. And since he’s three, the wrong mood always shows up at least…what…once an hour.

So during the process of getting ready to visit a few animal shelters today, I stopped fight number 8,314 with the reminder that we can’t bring a pet home until we can prove we can be friendly to each other. That pets are helpless creatures and they need absolute, inviolable kindness.

So the boys shaped up and played nicely and talked nicely and touched each other nicely. We didn’t find our new pet, but we got more information during the search.

And by bedtime the boys were at it again. Disrespectful to each other, saying hurtful things, reacting to hurt with fists.

I stopped them and reminded them that we have to be kind.

But Butter put his foot down. “Nope,” he said. “I don’t want any dog or any cat or any pet.”

I asked him why.

“I don’t like to be gentle and nice,” he insisted.

Fair enough.

So now I’m looking for a shelter that will trade a sweet dog for a sometimes-sweet preschooler. Let me know if you know of one. I’m sure they can adopt Butter out if they put clear guidelines on his kennel. “Does well with people and children and pets. Sometimes. Sometimes he’s a raging a**hole, so he needs just the right home where everyone understands that he’s not a bad guy, he just needs some positive reinforcement training to get some freaking manners.”

Any chance you have a pup you’ll trade for that?

My first baby

I knew when I met him that I was meant to be his mama.

I’d been in a relationship for about a year and my biological clock was telling me it was time to nurture something. I mentioned this urge to my boyfriend, and he told me I should look into adopting a newt.

I rolled my eyes and asked a coworker for help with details. She suggested finding a rabbit to parent for a while. A starter family, she said, began small. Then I could move up to a cat or dog. I wrinkled my nose. “Never a cat. I hate cats.”

We went to the shelter, which had no bunnies. At lunch, the waitress gave us our check and asked if we knew anyone looking for a kitten. “Not me,” I said. “I don’t like cats.” My friend, who has fostered more cats than any other person on Earth, asked about the kittens. Abandoned, blah blah blah, eyedropper feedings every other hours, blah blah blah, about the size of this bagel…my friend suggested we go take a look.

Never believe an animal activist who says you should “just” go look at kittens.

The woman went to the back of her house and brought out a huge basket teeming with kittens. And right in the middle was the most beautiful caramel-colored kitten I’ve ever seen. I pointed right at him and said, “I want to hold him.”

And I was done for.

I brought him and his brother home, after a terrifying stop at Target where I panicked at leaving them in the car, panicked at choosing the right litter and box, panicked at choosing the right food and water dish. Panicked at driving home with a cat carrier…pretty much all of the panics I had driving home my son years later. How did they let me adopt these creatures without any proof I could do the job?!

I gave them a bath (yeah, well, I didn’t know, but neither did they) and tried to use the blow drier to dry them (yeah, well, I didn’t know, but they taught me). When my boyfriend knocked on the front door the next morning I ushered them into the bathroom and shut the door. I told him when he came in that I had a surprise. He glowered, and said it had better be a newt.

I opened the door and these gorgeous, fluffy little boys came tripping all over themselves out of the bathroom. The grown man put the tips of his fingers together just beneath his chin and whispered, his face all aglow, “It’s kittens!”

They loved him. They loved us. They made us laugh and we did our best with them. When the first baby came, the black cat was mad but the caramel cat was curious. He stayed, always, two feet away from the baby. We have a fabulous video of Peanut, just able to sit up at 6 months, calling to the beautiful orange cat. In gibberish. Persistenly. At high volume. For more than 10 minutes. And then bursting into tears that the fuzzy brother would not come when called in screechy gibberish.

But whenever Peanut cried, the cat came running over.

That habit persisted until last week. If anyone in the house cried, my oldest love came running to see if he could do anything. And as always, I told him, “Thank you for checking on us. But seeing as you have no thumbs, you’re not much good to me, you silly old thing. But I appreciate the gesture.”

He was huge. When he laid on my chest, all 15 pounds, I felt grounded and true. When he laid on my lap, I acted just as I did with newborns: don’t move a muscle lest you jostle your dear little one.

He was a giant baby. Weaned too early, he and his feline brother both came to us, two months old, nursing on anything they could find. The black cat nursed on his older brother’s forearm. The big beige guy nursed on clothing. He eventually weaned his brother by biting him every time he started to suck on that wheat-colored arm. But nobody pushed him off the clothing, and for 13 years he slept and nursed on the jammies I wore out of the fire.

Whenever I sang, particularly showtunes, that little camel-hair-coated kitty came and sniffed my mouth, as though there were something preternatural inside he needed to diagnose. I wondered if he suspected I’d swallowed a Broadway cast and he wanted to come to their aid.

When his black feline sibling died, we worried about him. But he seemed not to notice. He still had us, and he seemed quite pleased about that.

When he got sick last week, I worried and called the vet. When they said he might not last the day I sobbed. When he didn’t make it even 48 hours from the first sign of illness, Spouse, that same man who crawled around with the kittens and wanted desperately to name them both Newt, wept like I’ve never seen him cry before.

Because Luke was our first baby.

And I’m wrecked.

Spouse took the litter boxes out of the bathrooms today. I thought I was going to be okay until the moment I saw that, for the first time in 13 years, there’s actually room to navigate our bathrooms.

And I don’t like it one little bit.

Hide between Dad's Feet

Pretending innocence

Really? You’re gonna thank them?

I’d like to thank the ants who came charging into the house today. Thank you for finding whatever it was you found in the silverware drawer. I’ve been meaning to take everything out and soak it in hot, soapy, vinegar water. You’ve given me a reason to do it today and for that I am thankful.

I’m also appreciative of the people who stop in parking lots and wait, desperately, for anyone walking by to identify one of the parked cars as theirs. Thank you for holding up the dozens of people behind you. Without you we might have been able to proceed with our days. But because you made parking take almost 30 minutes, I got to hear the wonderful tricks my 4 year old used to keep my screaming infant from blowing an artery. It’s a good thing you didn’t just drive normally until you found a parking space farther away. Then I wouldn’t know how resourceful my son is. I surely am grateful to you.

Thank you, terrible parent in front of me in line at the store today. Because you bought for your child every piece of crap he whined for, my son is starting to doubt our family’s system. Thank you for encouraging his critical thinking skills. Here I had him unquestioningly following the policy that we don’t buy things unless it’s already on our list; and that special purchases like toys have to be on a holiday list from which loved ones may choose to buy or not to buy. Thanks to you, Parent Making Interesting Choices, my son is interrogating our system and querying into our family’s stance on democracy. Lessons on thinking for himself and governing systems in one day. What a thanksgiving blessing. Thank you.

I would be remiss if I didn’t also thank the cat for waking me up almost every hour last night. If it weren’t for you, Cat One, I might have missed the beginning of the baby’s crying. All five times that he woke and raged about something or other. Of course, had you not been thumping around and yowling, the baby might not have woken. But then I wouldn’t be able to practice my catatonic calculations about which soothing technique to use on him. Thanks, kitty, for keeping me sharp. Except for the part where waking me every hour dulls my ability to function or think. That which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, Cat One. That’s why you’ll be sleeping in the garage tonight. And for that I am thankful.

Don’t get mad…get worms

*Warning*
This post not for the squeamish. Or those who still think I should dump our cats in the Bay. If you’re easily creeped out or a cat-hater, come back tomorrow. I’ll write something lovely. Or depressing. But at least not gross.
*End Warning*

I’ll spare you the intro and get right to the phone call with the vet. Or rather, the vet’s office, populated with, as you will see, freaking jerk-ass zombie idiots sent to this planet to torment me.

Me: I’m calling to check the results of the sample I left yesterday (for my indoor cat, who should really stop licking shoes as a pasttime, else risk this particular medical issue again.)
Freaking Jerk-Ass Zombie Idiot Sent to This Planet to Torment Me: Let me check. [on hold for two minutes.] It came back negative.
M: Really.
FJ-AZIStTPtTM: Yes. Negative.
M: The sample I brought that was crawling with worms came back negative for worms?
FJ-AZIStTPtTM: Yes, ma’am.
M: I don’t have a lot of critical thinking skills lately, but I’ll try this one: which type of worms doesn’t show up on this $30 test?
FJ-AZIStTPtTM: Let me check. Hold on. [on hold for two minutes] Ma’am? What did the worms look like?
M: [I give description I will spare you, but which was heard by this same Freaking Jerk-Ass Zombie Idiot Sent to This Planet to Torment Me yesterday when I dropped off the specimen and the day before on the phone.]
FJ-AZIStTPtTM: Okay. Hang on. [on hold for five minutes.] Ma’am? I’m going to have to call you back.

She doesn’t. Shocking, from a freaking jerk-ass zombie idiot sent to this planet to torment me.

An hour later I call the clinic again and get a recording saying they’re closed, and please don’t leave a message but call back when they’re open.

Look here, you $%^&#^%&)*#)($%^)*%^ers!!!! I spent ten minutes on the phone Monday, an hour of my precious child-free time on Tuesday, and now 15 minutes of my time today to find out NOTHING except that, now, the second cat has contracted the same @#(*$^%(*#@$ parasite that the first one has, in my house with a &@#&$*^*$ four-year old and adult male whose hygeine habits are suspect, approximately 2-4 weeks before I shoot a baby out of my lower personage? Really?

Really?

Are you serious? Do you want to rumble? Do you? Because really, genuinely, seriously? I can bring it, bitch. And if any of the humans in my family get this disgusting parasitic affliction because you’ve been INCOMPETENT, I will bring their “samples” daily to your waiting room and smear them on the walls.

Try me.

Negotiating

Cat sinks claws into Spouse’s back while trying to cuddle him. I trim cat’s claws, because Spouse refuses to. Never has. Nine years.

After the trim:
Me: Would you grab the dustpan and sweep up the cat’s nails?
S: You trimmed ’em, you sweep ’em.
M: I trimmed them for you. You sweep ’em.
S: You trimmed them haphazardly. You sweep ’em.
M: I swept all the crumbs under P’s chair. You sweep this.
S: You made *and* served food that made crumbs. You *deserve* to sweep.
M: There is no deserve about sweeping. Our house, our chores.
S: Nope. You find the puke, you clean it. You cut the nails, you sweep ’em.
M: [speechless]
S: That’s right. Post hoc ergo propter hoc.
M: That’s not how you use it!
S: [Grinning and walking away] I know.

It’s a wonder I haven’t killed him yet.

And did I sweep them? Of course. Because while Spouse is at work, enjoying his own thoughts and peeing by himself  and getting paid for it (that’s all I remember about work now is thinking and peeing and getting paid), Peanut will step on cat claw trimming and scream bloody murder about how something hurt him and then will sit down to examine it and will undoubtedly try to eat it and then shriek that it’s gross and then try to stab me with it to see if it hurts me the same way it hurt his foot and tongue, and I’m not going to have that be my morning. So, yes, I swept up the nails. It’s a wonder I haven’t killed me yet, either.

Do your bleeding heart a favor

Do not start searching online for rescue dogs. And especially don’t start looking to rescue a dog of one breed, then see a picture of a wounded dog and start contemplating a cross-country trip to rescue it. And especially don’t click on the links to dogs with special needs and decide to adopt every single deaf dog in the country.

Especially the ones whose “parents split up and they didn’t want him any more.” Are you kidding? I’m sorry, what? You split up and sent your dog to the shelter? There’s a special place in hell for a–holes like you. Dog can’t get adopted out of the shelter even though he knows ASL, because he needs to be the only dog at home (gets  spooked when big dogs sneak up on him). Oh my god, it’s my kid! *He* also knows ASL and wants to be the only kid at home  because he’s spooked when big dogs sneak up on him. I am seriously considering taking a trip to Ohio and bringing home the last thing we need right now just because there’s a lonely soul out there who deserves love.

Someone please adopt these dogs before I wind up with all of them…

Can’t you do those sums in your head?

Number of times kid woke me last night, screaming, scared, or needy: three

Number of times spouse work me last night, snoring: three

Number of times cat #1 woke me last night, kneading kitty bread on my all-too supple belly: two

Number of times cat #2 woke me last night, yowling to go outside, totally ignoring the eight year precedent as an exclusively indoor f–king cat: two

Total times some other creature woke me last f–king night: look, I got an A+ in calculus at a pretty prestigious University, but I can’t even add right  now. And does the number really matter? I am the grouchiest (what is the right word? “bitch” has too many connotations that my anger and frustration are misplaced because I’m a woman which is false [the misplaced part not the woman part…as though there is a “woman part”]; “a–hole” connotes that I’m less shitty today because I more puckered; and “motherf—er” just doesn’t work right for so many reasons…let’s try again) the grouchiest shell of a human this side of Alaska.

Aaaaargh!

I think I need a career as a pirate. Those f—ers get some respect.

It’s official…

The single reason my son is a terror and I am a writhing mess:  lack of sleep.

I suspected it, but thought there might be greys and nuances and spectra. Nope. He slept through the night last night, and I got a full eight hours uninterrupted by cat or child or snores (you know who you are) or trains. And I was a peach today. So was my kid. We had a grand old time. He told me this was his best day ever. He’s three. He should know.

Don’t know how to decree an official mandate on sleep, but I right now hold aloft my sword and declare this family will commence giving me nights like that every night for-freaking-ever more.

Else rue the day.

As they have been for years.

Pissing me off

We thought we were lucky that Peanut potty learned pretty early. Started using the toilet regularly around 15 months and took himself out of diapers at 21 months. Did it all himself, the little control freak, which was great. Except since it was all self directed and all about control, when he’s mad at one of us he pees in inappropriate places.

I’ve been trying for a month to break the peeing in the cat box thing. Tried reasoning with him, tried empathy (would you like it if they peed on your toys or in your bed?) Tried making a hard and fast rule. “In this house, we pee in the toilet.” He told me, as you know, that this is not his house, and at his house he and his dog pee in the cat box all the time. Why he and his dog even have a cat box, considering the disdain they have for cats, is beyond me.

Anyway.

Today he pees in his pants. I ask him if he can tell me why. He says, “Yes. Okay. One reason I just feel like it. One reason it just easier.” We talk about that one. If it’s just easier to pee in your pants, that’s called a diaper. If you just feel like it, I feel like ignoring you and working on my book, but it doesn’t work that way. So I reiterate where we pee and why.

Later, I walk in the bathroom and find a dustpan on the floor, full of a supsicious yellow liquid. It’s near the cat box, so either they got pissed at his piss and chose a new target, or he just tried a little something new.

M: Peanut?
P: [running in] What?
M: Can you tell me a little about what this is in the dustpan?
P: And on the floor.
M: [biting tongue] And on floor…
P: Yes. I pee, pee, pee in dustpan. And on floor.
M: Hmmm. You know peeing on the floor makes me frustrated bcause it’s slippery and dangerous and stinky and germy. And you know we only pee in potty. Mommy pees in potty. Daddy pees in potty. Can you tell me why you did this?
P: Yes. One reason I pee on floor in sweeper I just want to. One reason [and he looks me dead in the eye for this one] I just no like your rules.

We talk about why there are rules. Tile floors with urine on them are slippery. People fall and get hurt. Also pee is germy and we don’t want to get sick.

Also, and this is just for you who can read—I’m really f—ing tired of this. My cousin says floating targets will make the toilet more appealing. My aunt says move the cat box (and now, apparently, the dust pan). Our pediatrician says blue food dye in the water so he can make it green.

I say there are a few rules you don’t get to not like. Seat belts. Teeth brushing. No hitting, biting, kicking, scratching, pinching, or hurting anything that breathes. And seriously? Seriously. Seriously. There’s only one place to pee.

At Daddy’s office. Is it Take Your Daughter to Work Day? I’ve been asking that for three years and it has never been take your daughter to work day. He has long, curly hair and wears pink shoes. Please take him to work.

Slight miscalculation

In the middle of the night, say 3a.m., the sound of a cat who compulsively scratches the top of the litter box, desperate to cover the odor that might go away if he actually scratched the litter instead of the roof, is exactly the same as the sound of a newly crowned three-year-old (with his infant insomnia still intact) padding into the living room to use the new chalkboard that grandma and grandpa sent for his birthday.

So if one parent went tearing into the living room, confused, groggy, and more than a little surprised to find it empty, then barked angry instructions at the still scratching cat; and the other parent lay in bed, confused, groggy, and calculating the odds that the midnight sounds were cat-based not child-based, well, then you will fogive both. They aren’t firing on all cylinders anymore. Cats who scratch the lid of the litter box and child who wakes them several times a night have killed their sanity, deductive reasoning, and willingness to just let other creatures scratch and color and generally keep to their noisy selves at 3 a.m.

Merry March to all and to all a good night.

The cat is really really really really mad at us

Cat Two is a sensitive lad.

And a vindictive a–hole.

We know that he is angry with us because he strategically places feces depending on his mood. When all is well, it’s all in the litter box. If he’s a bit miffed, especially about our having a party or overnight guests, he leaves a bit outside the litter box on the floor. When he is ready to throw us out on our ears, aching to take over what is rightfully his domain, he pulls down the covers on our bed and poops exactly where we sleep. Last time, it happened nine times in a week, always where Spouse lays his right shoulder. This time, it’s right where my left deltoid burrows in each night. And he’s managing to get top sheet, fitted sheet, comforter, and mattress pad all in one fell poop.

But the kicker, this time, is that he’s also now targeting Peanut’s new bed. Knowing that we have the real power, and Peanut is just a pawn in our family’s nonsense, Spouse and I get the crap, and Peanut gets the pee. Three pees on Peanut’s bed today, including two where Cat Two pulled down the covers, peed right on Peanut’s sheets, then pulled the covers back up. Not well, or anything. I’m not saying he grows opposable thumbs. I’m saying the f—er deliberately hides his efforts so they can get really good and stinky. So we’re washing four freaking loads of laundry right now, instead of having nap time. At least we had a little extra BioKleen after Peanut potty trained himself early, having decided he hated the bulk of cloth diapers. Hope it works on cat shit, too.

Good times, y’all.

This f—ing cat is damned lucky we believe in fixing whatever is making him mad rather than throwin his ass into the pound, because that sounds really tempting. We spend a lot of time volunteering at the pound, where we see that people drop off their pets for all manner of inconveniences, the likes of which you give a child a timeout or a good talking to, but for which most people think it’s acceptable to just give away the furriest of their family. Disgusting and sad.

But, dude, he’s pooping in our bed to make a point.

I fear that if we ever had another child, both cats and the first kid would be pooping all over the hous, just to voice their displeasure and relative helplessness.

And I thought it felt like a zoo in here already…