Saturday, October 29, 2016

Practice Saying 'No, Thank You'

After I told Nick and much later, Mike, about the trailer park kittens and we agreed as a family that we might consider bringing one home. We could easily have left it at that. I should say instead that I could easily have left it at that.

But I didn't.

Later in the evening, Seth got his usual burst of energy, and I found myself chanting, "Kitten! Kitten! Kitten!" Now, we've chanted this before when Seth is batting at Teddy's ears or at a toy that's dangled in front of him, but it took on new meaning this time, new emphasis. 'Kitten' could mean someone else in our house too.

The next day, Mike was out doing something for the Boy Scouts and wasn't going to be home for a few hours. To my credit, Nick had been sitting in front of the television watching a Netflix series that he'd seen before. We were both bored of it. I tried to think of this as something helpful, getting Nick up and out of the house for a change, not something underhanded to further influence Nick and the way he talked to his dad about getting a kitten.

"Want to drop in and see the kittens this morning?"

"Can we do that? Just drop in?"

"Sure. Why not? They're looking for homes for these kitties, aren't they?" This was further evidence of my insensitivity to the needs of others. I didn't even bother to call the vet to see if they were busy.

So, we invented an errand. I can't even remember what. Socks, the Post Office, something lame. And then we had lunch. It was nice to go have lunch on a Saturday. After that, we casually drove into the empty parking lot at the vet's office where the kittens were being held in isolation.

"They're not busy!" I said cheerfully. And in we walked. They took us back right away, enthused at people who might either foster or adopt any of these guys. They tied us into gowns. They found the right size gloves for our big hands. And the next thing we knew, they'd caught us a pair of wild spitting kittens to hold so that we could fall in love with them. Even their hissing was adorable. It was. Really.

"They don't bite any more," the cheerful technician said. And yet, I had to hold my kitten around its chest and legs with my long fingers to keep him from leaping out of my hands. I wasn't sure a kitten could safely leap to the ground from my height.

"These guys are not much more than a pound," she told us. "They'll have to be two pounds before anyone can claim them. They'll have to be cleared from isolation and treated for fleas." She didn't mention worms, but I figured there were worms too. Weren't there always worms with kittens? Maybe I shouldn't mention worms either.

"It'll be a week or two," she said. Nick and I stood there, each of us with a kitten held firmly in our hands. My kitten had stopped hissing but was still panting. Nick's kitten had been claimed already, but sat comfortably in his hand as he stroked his tiny ears. Too bad we couldn't take that one. He was nicer.

Then, in some semblance of letting the technician get back to her job, I asked if Nick could hold the available kitten before we left. The technician reached for Nick's kitten. It struggled and clawed as she tried to pick him up and before she could lean all the way over to put him down, he leapt to the floor, scrabbling for the safety of the cage and his other siblings. I handed Nick my little grey kitten and immediately he stopped panting and calmed in Nicks hands.


I do not know what it is about that boy, but he has a way with cats. A cat will run from me on the street when I call to it but walk toward him casually, as if this hulking teenage boy was the cat's meow, rubbing all over him and purring. Even as an eleven year old boy, cats came to him easily. How is that fair? Eleven year old boys are like Neanderthals!

Finally, I apologized for all the time we'd taken from the vet tech's day and said we'd think about it. I knew we couldn't make a decision without Mike being involved. The last time I did that was when my grandma had just died and I had an excuse - my grandma just died so don't anyone dare fight me over an extra cat in the house.

When we left, the technician took our gloves and our gowns, sprayed us with disinfectant and we were on our way again. No debt to pay. No obligation. There was still time and plenty of excuses. We could walk away. No deal. No problem.

Then next morning, I awoke knowing absolutely that getting a wild kitten right now was a terrible decision to make even if he was a rescue from under the trailer of a very nasty man who was letting them all starve to death. I was just recovering some energy after a nasty bout with a virus. Nick was still catching up from missing six days of school. Mike was finally getting some sleep and recovering some time from the Boy Scouts by stepping back from being the Scoutmaster. He was still going to do some trips and adult training, but he finally had time to fix that bottom step that heaved every time anyone stood on it. This was a perfect time for all of us to cruise a bit, to stay on course, to keep away from distractions, to catch up on our sleep.

'No, thank you,' would have been the correct response. 'No, thank you.'


Thank you for listening, jb

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