Hello, Kitty … to stay, perhaps? (Plus briefs)

Those who’ve been reading the blog for a while know that our first attempt to adopt a new kitty – after the sad demise of 15 year old Watson when Lily was 3 months old – didn’t go so well. Lily was terrified of both cats and dogs at the time, and when we visited with a gentle old cat at the Humane Society, one on one, in February, Lily let out a piercing scream that sent volunteers running to check in on us.

Good times.

Since then, Lily, though still skittish, has gotten braver about petting dogs and cats, once she feels they’re not threatening. She’s still not wild about them looking her in the eye and approaching her; but if they’re settled somewhere, and she can gently pet their back or their ears, she really enjoys herself.

So two weekends ago, when we read about a nearby animal hospital that acted as one of several satellite cat adoption centers for the Humane Society, we stopped in to try again.

They mostly had very young kittens, which we aren’t so interested in – they’re nippy, and while this is done in a playful way, Lily would never understand the difference – but they also had an all-black five month old, who was very sweet and affectionate. Lily liked interacting with him on her own terms, though she still got nervous when he walked up and tried to rub himself against her legs, or stared at her.

But Joe fell in love, and the cat did seem a good fit for us. We thought it best, though, to bring Lily for another visit before taking the step of bringing him home – hoping in that time that we’d prepare things around the house a little in the interim as well. Continue reading

Standing on the outer banks of the Mommy sisterhood

I was working remotely from a Panera near my home on a recent Friday morning when I experienced what is now a semi-regular occurrence.

Near my table, there was a gathering of about eight 30- and 40-something women, sipping hot drinks and chatting about the start of school, their kids’ fashion choices and recent adventures, home repair issues, etc.

In this moment, I felt both an intense desire to walk up, introduce myself, and gently weave my way into this warm, cozy community of mothers; and a profound sense of relief that I was not a part of this gathering, for fear that I’d inevitably obsess over my own approach to motherhood while listening to others’ accounts.

I’ve been afflicted with this push-pull duality since Lily arrived in our lives, and I’m not exactly sure what to make of it. When I read an acquaintance’s book about her first months as a mother – Vicki Glembocki‘s funny, fabulous, brutally honest memoir, “The Second Nine Months” – I was struck by a detail she included about practically mowing down other new or soon-to-be mothers who were out and about in public places, so anxious was she to find “mommy friends.” But I had done the opposite, nearly sprinting from a place when I saw a line-up of strollers. Continue reading

Misadventures in kiddie lit (or, why I’ve been inspired to write a children’s book parody called, “Curious George Gets What’s Coming to Him”)

I love reading to Lily. I really do. It’s one of my absolute favorite activities to do with her. But frankly, there are some books I’m less thrilled about reading to her than others.

We have a very truncated board book version, for instance, of “Jack and the Beanstalk,” and Lily seems to like its colorful illustrations, but the story drives me batty. Why? Because it might as well be called “The Shameless Goniff and the Beanstalk.”

Things start off fine – Jack sells a cow for magic beans, his mother throws them out the window, and the giant beanstalk grows and reaches up through the clouds overnight. All well and good. But then Jack steals a bunch of treasure from the giant’s castle and scoots down the beanstalk to safety. And then he decides to go back up the beanstalk for more, because apparently, he’s developed a taste for bling. But while trying to make off with an enchanted harp, the giant wakes up, and Jack barely makes it down the beanstalk in time to chop it down and send the giant plummeting to his death.

What exactly is the moral here? When you steal, make sure you get out of there quickly? And are we really expected to cheer for the boy who stole a bunch of stuff from a giant that was minding his own business, living atop the clouds, before having his home invaded? Who exactly is the victim in this story? (Because of my misgivings, I think this book will mysteriously be “lost” in the very near future.) Continue reading

More briefs

– I had to go to work for part of Tuesday evening last week, during an overstuffed, frantic week of work, and the following night, I needed to attend the Wilde Awards, since I was a voting theater critic for the awards and was going to take part in the ceremony early in the evening.

I was already worried about making all my deadlines for the week, and I hated leaving Lily for a second night in a row. And as if she sensed this, Lily got the saddest, most crestfallen look on her face when I told her I’d have to go. (Just before that, Joe had offered to take her outside to play, and she’d said, “Mommy take me.”) Standing in our kitchen, dressed up in a party frock and high heels, I felt the pull of my obligations crashing down on me. And I started to fall apart a little bit.

“I’m sorry, sweetie,” I said, crouching down, my voice breaking up. “I wish I could. I really do. But I have to go.”

Then something amazing and completely unexpected happened. Lily patted me and said, “You go, Mommy.” And she gave me a hug and kiss. “Bye, Mommy.”

I laughed a little, taken aback by the mature response of this little person. We all want our kids to develop an ability for empathy, but I didn’t even hope to see flickers of it in a two year old.

Yet here was Lily, who saw me feeling sad and conflicted, and thus decided, in that moment, that my pain was bigger than hers. And I’m so grateful to have witnessed this early spark of compassion – even if I still had to gather my things, and myself, and head out the door.

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– A couple of positive changes of late. After a couple months of terrible drop-offs at daycare – whereby Lily would scream and cling to me, leaving me feeling terrible all day at work (even though I knew she’d get over it in seconds once I left) – we’ve gotten back to smooth, amiable partings.

I’m not sure whether this was just a phase we had to work through or what, but you tend not to question the upswings too much. You just appreciate them when they finally, finally come.

Similarly, Lily appears to be once again embracing the afternoon nap on weekend days. (Huzzah!) Whereas Lily had been previously screaming and kicking and fighting these naps tooth and nail for the last few months, she now, after being warned ahead of time that naptime is approaching, lets one of us put her into her crib and cover her with her favorite blanket. Somewhere along the way, she’s decided a nap’s a lovely thing that makes everyone feel better. Smart girl. Lucky parents.

– I’m in the dark as to how this tradition began, but at some point, when it came time to either get Lily dressed, or coerce her into pajamas, Joe laid himself on the floor next to the changing table and chanted, “Daddy’s toes, Daddy’s toes, Daddy’s toes … ” while bicycling his legs in the air and choosing items of clothing for her. Generally, of late, Lily wants to pick out everything she wears, but since this practice has evolved, we often ask, “Do you want to pick out your jammies, or do you want Daddy’s toes to do it?” Bizarre, I know, but cute and very endearing. Check out the video, shot Saturday morning:

I love my weird family.

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