appearance, attention, behavior, bodies, boundaries, cats, childcare, children, comfort, communication, community, compassion, Connection, control, doctor, dogs, family, haiku, honeymoon, isolation, love, parenting, respect, surprise
My son Jarrod and his wife Heather married on Saturday (July 19, 2014). I stayed at their home for 7 days in order to care for their combined 4 children, two dogs, and the fattest-cat-ever, (along with my 14 year old) while they honeymooned.
I kept a brief diary of my more notable adventures during this time.
Day 2: Poop Aplenty
I woke this morning to crazy poo smell.
The dogs were crated through the night, and neither had pooped in his cage. Whew. But where was this intense smell coming from?!
I went on a thorough hunt with my 7-year-old grandson for the source.
Whoa. Fat Cat had made an impressive trail of man-poo on the downstairs bathroom floor. It was shocking. Really, apart from the smell, it was a thing to behold; a constructed work of art. How had she managed to create so much? How did she line it all up with such perfect symmetry? It seemed she’d measured the distance between each and every piece with perfection.
I could imagine her massive form squat-walking while she produced her stinky gift.
Art is a form of communication. What could she be saying?
I think she is judging me.
Everyone’s a critic.
I cleaned her offering.
I walked the dogs so they could pee. Then I fed them both with a plan to walk them immediately after, since one (Sprocket) has been revenge-pooping daily. Knowing this, I gated off his favorite indoor poop place.
As the dogs were finishing their last morsels of food, I hovered at-the-ready. I was not going to be out-foxed by this hound.
I turned to quickly grab my coffee cup (finally!) so I could sip and walk– but look! Sprocket has pooped on the floor.
It was not yet 7am.
Day 3 of my captivity:
This fat cat mocks me. Having dealt with her unwillingness to use her huge and familiar litter box yesterday, I gated off the area where she placed her Commentary Poo before I went to bed last night. I woke to find my tactics impotent.
I’ve been bested by this feline and her feces.
Dark nuggets on floor.
They don’t smell like pretzel bites.
I fear these aren’t food.
Girth defies reason.
This cat can’t possibly walk.
That food just entered your mouth.
Lightning poo process.
How did you manage
to turn that food into poo
like a play-dough press?
Contemplations From Day #4
I always thought I was fairly fluent in English, as well as understanding the intricacies of juvenile language and behavior. In parenting, I consider myself a benevolent leader, meting out “punishment” that might be considered flimsy by some but I feel is effective. I value communication and contemplation over dramatic isolation or shaming. Shame-based parenting is never fruitful. I respect small people and work to treat them this way, even when upset with their behavior or my circumstances.
I have been actively parenting for nearly 34 years. This week, while staying with and caring for my grandchildren, I was told there’s a lot I don’t know. I am learning complicated new nuances to language.
Today’s lesson: Did you know there is a world of difference between calling someone “poopieface” versus calling them “stupid”?
In this new world, “stupid” does not require as severe a reprimand as “poopieface” or “poopiehead”.
Upon further consideration, I can see now how this is so:
“Poopieface” is an observation of an external appearance, a choice one makes about how they present themselves to the world. Being a poopieface flies in the face of convention. They are opting out of acceptable norms and must be brought back into the fold.
“Stupid” is ontological.
I think the basic lesson here is:
One cannot choose to be stupid. However, one can choose to wash a face.
I remain open and teachable.
Update from Day #4
I am certain this fat cat is a sorceress.
Determined to keep errant feces to a minimum, I have decided to gate the doorway leading out of the cat’s bedding area. She sleeps, eats, and defecates in the laundry room off the kitchen. So I set the gate in the doorway, and placed two tall trash cans and a large basket in front of the gate, in order to create a blockade, on the off chance she contemplated jumping the fence. Considering her size, this seemed laughable but I wanted to cover all possibilities.
Apparently, kitty possesses the power of flight, or the ability to turn to smoke because, just moments after setting her containment field (and having heard NOTHING to indicate movement), she was standing on my side of the doorway. Just 3 feet from me.
“Prrrt”, she said.
I’m sure she was smiling.
Day 5 – Answering the Door
Here’s a fun fact: When a stranger comes to your front door, and you answer with a hearty “Peek-a-boo!!”, hilarity ensues.
Try it sometime. It’s effortless, and well worth the fun.
Day 5 – Grown-ups with Devices
Faces in devices. When did this become such a commonplace thing? It is epidemic. I heard on NPR that doctors are now using a prescription pad to prescribe outdoor activity for patients of all ages. They suggested the Rx might read: “Walk in woods 1/2 hour daily”, or “2 hours per day outdoors without electronic equipment”. They say adult patients, or parents of inactive children will follow through with this healthier behavior more reliably if it’s in the form of a prescription.
I long for more social times like when people made eye contact, or could finish a thought. Remember that? Hello?
Today: I am in the full waiting room of my internist/acupuncturist.
All the adults here have their faces in devices. Conversely, I brought a paper novel to read. How Victorian! They are seated, each positioned in what has become the recognizable iPhone Slump.
One woman is clearly playing a game because she’s failed to silence her phone. The game makes many sounds: bells, jingles, music, alerts that whoosh her superior skill for all to hear. Her phone is also equipped with a super-loud ringtone, which she ignores because she is gathering gems or saving the planet.
The others in the waiting room are quiet. It’s clear this noisy one needs attention. I consider hugging her, unbidden (someone must stop this madness).
The doctor’s wife is also the office manager. She answers the phone, speaking a loud and fluent Chinese/English hybrid. She’s frustrated by a caller’s inability to understand her. She tells the caller, “Come in tomorrow at 1pm. This is when the doctor can see you.” This caller clearly doesn’t understand. Wife begins shouting, “One! One o’clock. No! One! Like 9, 10, 11, 12, 1! One!!” And then she hangs up.
No one looks up.
More from Day 5 — Villages
I stopped in to Starbuck’s to buy a pound of coffee (I can stop anytime).
The two women behind the counter commented appreciatively on my nail polish, making oooooh sounds and chatting importantly about the Gel Nail Process. I explained I’d had my nails done for my son’s wedding this past Saturday. One of the women responded by puffing up to twice her size, all misty and smiling. It was such a tender and intimate thing, she nearly made me cry.
This got me thinking about when we humans lived in villages, and the wedding ceremony of one couple was a meaningful community affair celebrated by all.
Thoughts from the end of day 6—Little Kitty Poopoo
I think the final chapter from my visit away would be titled,
“Little Kitty Poopoo: The Exit Poo or Here’s A Little Shit For Your Trouble”
I realize I identify with kitty. She’s Rubenesque like me, only more so; a super-sized Rubens.
We’re both aging.
I’m recently suffering with swelling in my back, hips, and legs as a (hopefully short term) side effect from medication, so I think we currently even waddle with a similar sway.
We do a kind of Hippo Sashay.
Meditating on this, I felt love for her.
With this warmth and forgiveness swelling in my heart, congruent with my ankles, I spent some extra snuggly grooming time with kitty.
I brushed and fed her, chatting and mewing right along with her. We spoke of lighter, easier days for us both. She hummed what sounded like a grateful, joyous purr.
So it was with shock and awe that I came upon her pooping, right outside her perfectly clean and functional litter box just moments after this Love-Fest of ours. The lights were on. It was early evening. People were awake and present. But there she was, pooping with impunity.
She glanced over her shoulder in mid-poo, on tiny tippy toes, to offer a melodious “Prrrt!”
I was stunned silent. If you know me, you know this is huge. I actually think my mouth dropped open.
What does one say when faced with such a monumental force?
She is a Goddess, with her own twisted logic.
My mind is too puny to comprehend the deeper lesson in her message. Surly, there is one?
This was her parting gift.
Her bold and odiferous goodbye.
*This was originally published as separate posts. I edited and updated it as one contained and (hopefully) more seamless piece