That’s a Shame

Every night, at bedtime, I gather Seven into my arms, and we wander towards Younger sprawled on the sofa.

“Tell the brother ‘good night,’ ” I instruct both of them.

“Night,” Younger obediently replies.

Seven doesn’t actually speak, as he is a cat, but he tolerates me lowering him towards Younger and he allows Younger swiping a hand over his black fur. Then the two of us disappear up the stairs and into the bedroom, where, once I make it into bed, Seven sprawls across my chest, just beneath my chin, and dares my husband to protest.

But in the mornings, recently,  Seven has veered from our routine and has decided not to follow me into the bathroom to calmly — or not so calmly — wait until I finish my shower before I release him from the house. Now, once I hit the bathroom door, he focuses on my husband.

Instead, he pounces on my husband’s feet. Mom is up. Time to get up. My husband then scoots across the bed in a bid for a few more minutes of sleep, but undeterred Seven paws at my husband’s face and hair. Mom is up. Time to get up. Come on, come on. Time to get up. Mom is up.  He will then add claws to his urging.  Come on, come on. Mom is up.

And usually about two minutes after I have stumbled from the bed, I hear my husband’s grumpy footsteps as he staggers towards the door to award Seven’s behavior with early release.

Which is probably why Seven veered from our morning routine. Because my husband is the easier mark.

Then Monday morning . . .

I stumbled out of bed a little early for a quick trip to the bathroom. Apparently, Seven mistook my visit for my usual morning stay. When I hobbled back through the bedroom door, I discovered the outline of the black cat bouncing determinedly and incessantly on my husband — Mom is up. Time to get up. Come on, come on. Time to get up.

But then, hearing my footsteps, Seven suddenly stopped in mid-bounce, his head swinging towards me as I crossed the room to fall back into the bed.

Oh. Mom is not up.  He jumped from my husband’s back onto my stomach where he immediately sprawled into his usual position. Never mind. We’re going to sleep some more.

And so we did.

My husband does not find Seven nearly as entertaining as I do.

That’s a shame.

Except it isn’t.


Earlier this week, we had to take Thirteen and Seven to the veterinarian, and all the men in my house made sure the two knew exactly who they should blame for the upcoming invasion of their manhood.

“Whatever happens tomorrow,” my husband murmured to them as he scratched their ears, “blame Mom.”

“I told her not to,” Younger sympathized with them, as he stroked their backs. “I’m sorry. She wouldn’t listen.”

So the two cats had to spend the night trapped in the bedroom with my husband and me and without food and water. So to keep them from sprinting for water as soon as they escaped the bedroom, I had Younger position himself outside the door.

“You ready,” I asked, bending to scoop Seven into my arms.

“Yep,” Younger said from his side of the door.

I wrapped my fingers around the door handle. “You sure?”

“Yep,” Younger repeated, brimming with confidence.

I opened the door, immediately having to wrap both arms around Seven who was wriggling frantically in my hold. But I still caught sight of the black streak hitting the stairs at about thirty miles an hour. And Younger, reacting a few seconds too late, straightening to his feet to hit the stairs at about two miles an hour.

“You had one job, Younger,” I told him as we urged the reluctant cats into the carriers. “One job.”

“Mom,” he told me, shaking his head. “I was crouched down, ready for a grounder. That cat bounced at the wrong time.”

And my morning was not yet over because I still had to answer the office manager’s simple question of “And what are the names of your fur kids?”

“Well, one is Seven.”

Her pen paused as she peered upward at me.

“Yeah,” I nodded. “Like the number.”

She filled in the name and moved to the second round of paperwork. “And the other one?”

“Uhmm, Thirteen.” And with her second look, I added, defensively, “I have math kids.”

We look like a normal family.

I think.




Pharaoh King

For those who don’t know, a few months ago, we rescued two black cats. We named one Seven — a Seinfeld tribute — and one Thirteen — a tongue-in-cheek concession to the superstition of black cats being unlucky.

And, well, because Younger wanted to name them in numbers, because, you know, math.

“Mom,” Younger said the other day as he descended the stairs. “Both the cats were lying outside my door, like sphinxes, waiting for me. So either I’m the next Pharaoh king or they smell something in my room that I don’t.”

Well, as far as I know, I’m not an Egyptian princess and he’s not the next Pharaoh King, so . . .

But wait.

Maybe I am a princess . . .

Feel My Pain

Despite breaking my heart and quitting football, Younger had continued to take a weights class until last semester, when he simply could not fit one in his schedule. At the start of the new semester a few weeks ago, he was able to once again join the class, although he did so with much trepidation after missing several months of workouts.

And now when I ask him to perform simple tasks — feed the dogs and cats, throw his trash away, actually put his plate in the dishwasher — I hear, “But my muscles, Mom — they hurt.”

Apparently not satisfied with the level of sympathy he was receiving one day, he decided to elaborate. “Mom, I don’t think you understand just how much I pain I am in. I woke up in the middle of the night last night because I rolled over.”

Then this morning, as we prepared to leave the house, I asked, “You have everything you need for weights today?”

“Yeah,” he mumbled.  “Except for muscles, endurance, and a will to live.”

One class I know he doesn’t need — drama.

He’s already got that all figured out.


What I think our animals think when I clean the house:

Dusty  (our border collie): She’s using the evil forces again. I shall remain in the bubble of safety surrounding the stairs. I will not even look upon evil, so that it might not catch me in a weak moment.

George  (our lab mix who spent five years in an animal shelter): She cannot hear me over the caterwauling of the blue machine, so I must follow her to let her know I am still in existence. And when she stops, I must halt, also, unknowingly behind her. I am not sure why she does that flip backwards over me. I think she must enjoy it, but now I, too, should find the safety of the stairs.

Seven and Thirteen (our two rescued black cats): What is this loud noise? I must see. Too close. Back up, back up. What is this pet that spews liquid onto the floor? I shall catch it as it moves, back and forth, back and forth. Leap. Now. Sticky paws. Sticky paws. High step, high step. What is she doing with the pile of clothes I have been napping upon? No, she must not have that washcloth. I must first render it un-living. I must, I must. Ah, okay. She can have the washcloth. But not the sock. Not this sock. It is mine. Mine, I say. Mine, mine, mine. Why is she fussing over the animal I brought for her? I did render it un-living. Why has she not sit down and cuddled me? I shall climb her like a tree. Ah, yes, claws work good. We’re going outside now? I shall find her another animal.


Man of the House

With Elder at Mizzou and my husband in Colorado, Younger was enjoying being the man of the house — watching what he wanted to watch and eating what he wanted to eat.

Then he had to chase cats from the garage at night and take the trash to the end of the road on Sunday.

And that’s when he told me the whole “being the man of the house” thing was sexist.

The young man has the makings of a politician.

Let It Snow, Please

Before Thanksgiving, Younger had his first snow day. He thought he was hitting the jackpot of winters.

He’s not had a single snow day since. And he’s pretty sure that’s all kinds of wrong.

Then he saw snow in the forecast for yesterday.

He tried to remain a snow pessimist, but the school dismissed all after-school activities because a bit of freezing rain was falling. And he saw a glimmer of hope.

And when he burst through the back door, he had a grin stretching from cheek to cheek. “I know, I know,” he assured me. “I’ve told myself not to expect snow. I was telling myself, ‘Don’t expect snow.’ But when I started running down our driveway, I suddenly landed on my butt. And if our driveway is already slick, then…” He sobered for a moment. “That poor cat, though.”

I don’t know what happened to the cat in the moment Younger went airborne or the moment he was suddenly not airborne, most likely.

I was too amused by his butt being used as a weather consultant.

Which turned out not to have any more accuracy than the actual forecasters.

He did not have a smile when I woke him for school this morning.

I know that’s a rough day for all of us, that day when we first realize we can’t trust our butt…