Saturday, 3 March 2007

Lap Dance

When they were tiny, my kids used to love settling in my lap and being sung to. They would request favorite books or stories, snuggling up to me in bed or climbing onto my lap. When does all of that stop? One day, I patted my lap and said to my youngest 'Come over here and sit on my lap,' and she told me that was silly, she wasn't a baby anymore, she didn't need to sit on my lap. Which was true, but of course it still hurt.

Not long ago, we got a cat. Personally, I love cats, but I had my reservations about this. I told the kids I knew who'd end up feeding her, and of course they rushed to assure me that they would always assume the responsibility for this chore. I let them know I wasn't keen on changing the cat litter, and again they insisted they would be able to cope. So we got a cat, and she's great. Happily, the great outdoors is her litter box and the kids do occasionally feed her. What we didn't reckon on was the dead mice and birds. Our cat is a veritable killing machine; when I was a kid we had dozens of cats and not one of them could have come close to her skill. And all the bird and rodent corpses are 95% my responsibility. My husband, smart fellow, opted out from the very beginning.

Now, the kids and I are crazy about this cat, and she is crazy about -- well, me. The kid she is not so thrilled with. This has nothing to do with who feeds her, as we all share this chore pretty equally, but a lot to do with the fact that the kids won't leave her alone. Even though they're old enough to know better, they insist on picking her up when she has just settled for a nap or begun to eat her dinner. So the cat chooses my lap nine times out of ten. And it is nice to have a cat in my lap most of the time, so I am not complaining. But the real benefit to having this cat is that the kids have begun to get jealous. Not of me, but the cat. They dump her off my lap and -- big girls that they are -- sit there themselves and insist on being paid some attention. I pretend to be irritated. I fuss over the cat and how upset she must feel to be so rudely displaced. I tell them that they are cutting off the circulation in my legs. That they are not babies any longer, for pity's sake.

But secretly, I am thrilled.

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7 comments:

Kim Ayres said...

At the risk of pointing you to one of my writings every time you add a new post to your blog, you might be interested in A goodnight kiss gone forever, which was my own entry on that shift in the child's display of affection.

We don't have pets though. Quite apart from the hassle factor, I'm allergic to cats and my daughter's terrified of dogs.

Mary Witzl said...

Hello, Kim.

I've just read your post -- funny how what I write seems to mirror what you have already written. I've just found your post on Barbies, too, and I could hardly agree more, but don't get me started on Barbies.

Of course it is inevitable and even desirable for kids to distance themselves from their parents in their early teens, but it really is hurtful. And as you said, kids don't think about their parents' feelings. It's a quandary: you want them to recognize that you have feelings, of course, but you don't want them to feel so guilty about the natural impulses to pull away that they have to pussyfoot around you and pretend a closeness they no longer feel. Once again, I find that parenting is a lot tougher than it looked when I was a kid.

As for pets, although I'm crazy about our cat and cats in general, and I love dogs too, I can well understand why people with allergies wouldn't want to keep a cat, and I used to find dogs intimidating too -- still do, in fact, even though I think they're great.

I'm not daft enough to think that my daughters are going to continue wanting to sit on my lap, but the way I see it is I'll take what I can get. Most of the time they are spotty, raging teens with volatile mood swings and obnoxious personality traits. So it is nice to have a hug once in a while and remember that they are really still my babies. Oh, am I glad they don't know about this blog.

Kim Ayres said...

We could write about exactly the same thing but the posts would still be different. Everyone has their own perspective, and that's what makes for fascinating reading.

As for your daughters finding out about your blog, don't assume that this state of affairs will last forever. Unless you are going to create an anonymous identity and work really hard not to reveal anything that might just give you away, you have to be aware that your posts could be read by your daughters, your local grocery store owner, (see Sunrise Wholefoods for an example of that), or even your daughter's friend's father. Some people have been fired for slagging off their boss and co-workers on their blog and not being careful to keep their identity secret enough.

Having said that, there is a freedom in writing what you think and feel and discovering that in the end the more you reveal about yourself the more respect you get from people rather than finger-pointing.

mary.whitsell@virgin.net said...

Hello again, Kim.

I read your post on Sunrise Wholefoods a while back and it made me laugh.

I am a firm believer in recycling everything that can be recycled; in the Kanto area of Japan -- where Tokyo is located -- recycling is mandatory because there simply isn't enough space left for garbage to be dumped. They've tried all sorts of things -- there is even an island off Tokyo largely composed of garbage -- but they are fast running out of room. So recycling glass, cans, oil, plastic and cardboard is not just recommended but obligatory, and there are garbage patrol people in every neighborhood (usually little old lady busybodies for whom such a chore is a pleasure) who make sure you don't break the rules. Once you've recycled for over a dozen years, it becomes second nature. I have a huge collection of bags, plastic and cloth alike, and I do my best to use these whenever I go shopping. I'm afraid I don't notice which ones I use where; I do shop at Tesco's, but I try to patronize smaller shops too.

I can certainly see how an indiscreet person could get into trouble by venting their grievances in a blog. I live in a small town where gossip seems to be one of the favorite pastimes, and I too could tell tales. But I can't afford lawsuits and I figure my kids can't afford to take action either, so as long as they keep dumping their laundry hither and yon and leaving their shoes where I can trip over them and dissing me every chance they get, well, this job is hard enough and I might as well have a little fun.

And all I have to do now when they give me grief is give them a look and say 'Excuse me -- I need to go and make an entry on my blog.'

Brian said...

My three children -- 50+ or close to it --are not above a family hug still-- more so than when younger even .

Cats . Don't get me started . My little Siamese was our latest , and was so loved that we could not bring ourselves to replace her when she died .

We also had a pigeon once that the younger daughter tenderly brought home when it was hardly fledged , because where it was found it would very soon have been crushed in the carpark . I made a fist of milk softened rice , and hand fed it till it could look after itself . It decided to take up residence on top of the gas water heater in the outside laundry , and did make quite a mark there for some six years .

As for kids-- cuddle 'em while you can !

Mary Witzl said...

We are aware that our kids' cuddle tolerance may well be wearing thin, so we tend to take our hugs when we can.

A few years back, our eldest was going through an awful don't-hug-me-in-public stage. Then mysteriously, she got over it and starting initiating public hugs herself. I was amazed by this until I saw her newly acquired best friend hugging her mother and father in public.

I could have hugged that kid too.

Mary Witzl said...

Brian, I meant to write that you have given me hope for the future. Perhaps when my kids are in their fifties, they'll give me all the hugs I miss out on now. Hope they don't break my bones, though -- I'll be ninety.

As for cats, I once lost a very sweet little Siamese cat when she was still quite young, and I don't think I'll ever get over it. I buried her with my entire marble collection and my best handkerchief.

I now see why empty nesters tend to acquire pets. The cat fulfills maternal needs in me and I have to restrain myself from overdoing it with the baby-talk, to which my husband very reasonably objects.

Good for you, for rescuing that baby pigeon. Even if you did have to live with the marks it left.