Kiddos and KittiesPosted: January 3, 2013
I was nannying a few weeks ago, an evening of “babysitting” for an about bi-monthly, purely date night charge, Bruiser (one and a half year old little boy). It had been a few weeks since I had been to Bruiser’s house and with some sporadic charges there is a period of adjustment before they fully give over to my powers of play. Bruiser had a runny nose and no nap, and so I thought it best to give him some space. He had a Curious George on, and was polishing off his bottle so I took this as my cue to sit on the couch a few feet from where he was sitting on the rug. As the show unfolded I noticed that Bruiser had scooted over closer to me. After a few minutes he stood up and shuffled his way over closer. Then he glanced up at me before walking in front of me and leaning, resting his little back against my knees. (I’ve seen this slow progression happen a hundred times. Previously, it had been experienced with cats. Just as with new feline friends, it is best to approach kiddos slowly, getting nonverbal cues from them before attempting to pick them up.) I slid my hands gently under Bruiser’s armpits, smiling at him, and when he returned my smile I knew he would be ok with me lifting him onto my lap. After biding my time, he snuggled in for a nice show time cuddle and subsequent bath and bedtime both went very smoothly. Bruiser’s similarity to a certain stealthy cat got me thinking about the comparable habits of kiddos and kitties.
Both children and cats find shiny things irresistible, especially when said shiny thing is also moving. I don’t know how many times while stuck in traffic, or waiting in a drive thru, I’ve pulled out a cd and cast its reflection on my car ceiling, shaking it back and forth a la Tinkerbell to entertain the kiddos. And it works! They reach from their car seats to capture “Tink”, enraptured rather than impatient. The same tactic worked on my darling daughter cat Dixie when I tried to introduce some exercise into her life. She was very pleasantly plump and the only way to get her some cat cardio was to pop something shiny onto a string and bob it in front of her!
Sans shiny things, kiddo and kitties both get frisky and worked up spontaneously and out of nowhere. I’ve seen a cat arch its back and walk/run/sprint/jump sideways and zig-zagged for no apparent reason, all skittish and hopped up. Likewise, I’ve seen children go from docile and calm, to crazy and hyper in the blink of an eye. No explanation, just a little looney!
Cats (I know Dixie for sure) always go for the sunny spots- sitting in windows, finding the sun-warmed part of patios and pavement; as do children! Whether it’s venturing outside, opening blinds, or adding a semicircle sun with shining rays to complete a drawing, kiddos and cats alike seem to always be in a sunny mood.
Another area where children and cats behave similarly is where they choose to do their business. As far as kiddos go, some will go straight to the center of a room, in front of the tv, and grunt as they work out a diaper debacle. Rebel usually stands next to a piece of furniture, bracing his body against the chair/table as a he works on a diaper delivery. Other past charges have demurely hidden behind a door or under a table to do their due diaper diligence. I know, as a kitten, Dixie would go in the strangest places -aka everywhere but her litter box. Once she matured, she developed litter-box training skills, though she would pick and choose when to forget her training. In fact, if I was gone nannying any longer than ten hours, she would poop just outside the litter box to teach me a lesson. Eight hours? Nine hours? Nine and a half hours? No problem. But once that ten hour mark had been hit and passed, I could drive home, confident that I would find a little present, right where it was not supposed to be (I’ve seen a similar habit in kiddos who seem to wait for parents to return before doing a number two- almost as if they’re storing it up as punishment for the separation anxiety suffered). When Dixie defied me with her poopy punishment, I have to admit, it amused me. I thought it was funny that she was smart enough to exact revenge, and that she missed me so much it made her mad. Call me crazy but y’all know I love those strong-willed women!
Which brings me to another similarity, at least between my Dixie and Boss Lady and Blue Eyes; Dixie was my biggest and blurriest disciplinary blind spot. As cats go, she was much more like a dog, and even more like a living stuffed animal. She would let me hold and pet her for hours, and even slept with me every night, snuggled under the covers. When she heard my key in the lock, she would race to the front door, wanting to be immediately scooped up, and once in my arms she always put her arm around my shoulder and neck, just like a little girl. She was truly one in a million, feline-wise, and the only pet who had ever been all mine. So I may have been blind to her misbehaviors such as her tendency to scratch up door frames and meow for breakfast waaaay before waking time. I only ever spanked her five times in twelve years, and I ended up crying and apologizing to her after, deciding it wasn’t worth the guilt to implement corporal punishment.
I may have been a permissive parent to Dixie, something I am firmly against in my nannying, but truly, aside from the occasional “oh no”, Dixie was good as gold, providing me with much comfort, much love, and (in my opinion) deservedly spoiled. She brought joy, love, and (in the case of anti-cat people) surprise with her sweet, funny, and loving personality. Many of my charges knew Dixie and loved taking trips to my apartment solely for the chance to see, pet, cuddle her. Now that she’s gone (she passed away this past August) I’m glad I let her get away with so much, always picked her up, held her so much, spoiled her. I miss her every day. She was like a furry kiddo to me, and a most precious charge.