Friday, April 12, 2013

Here, Kitty Kitty


What was that incredibly loud middle-of-the-night sound coming from downstairs? I needed to know! And so, of course, sent Steve to find out. Here's what he found out: the frisky feline we are cat-sitting for got into the upstairs bathroom, found a small opening underneath the cabinets, somehow squeezed herself through, landed above the kitchen ceiling (the clear panel over the lights), broke said panel and went crashing, panel and all, to the ground. The panel shattered. Ruthie did not (although it probably counts against those nine lives of hers). Since then, every door has been shut tight, to try and prevent another Kamikaze Kat incident while she's on our watch. I'm pretty sure Ruthie will figure out another means of putting herself in harm's way before long, though.

It was sort of the same with Evan when he was small. He could flatten himself almost to pancake width and get into seemingly inextricable spaces, including getting his head stuck between the bannisters on the staircase (a moment of sheer horror when my folks were visiting. Thank God big strong Grandpa came to the rescue and pulled the spokes apart to release my little wiggleworm). It was also Ev who introduced our family to the neighborhood on moving day in 1989. Our doorbell rang, and I opened it to find a couple of folks who'd been walking down the street. I thought they'd come to welcome us. Instead, they’d come to inform us that our tiny three year old was standing, spreadeagled, in an upstairs window in his pajamas. Thanks for the heads up, neighbors!! Yes, a terrible mother has moved to town!!

Evan and his rescuer, my dad

What is it about cats and kids and curiosity? If they truly want to get in (or out), it seems there's not a latch or gate or barrier that can keep them from reaching their destination. They are hard-wired to explore their world with every means at their disposal, and to look at that world as a safe and wonderful place. It doesn't occur to them that they might be endangering themselves, not a bit.

Moving into the risk-happy teens, with car keys and increasing freedom, our children continue to seek new and exciting experiences, and we parents are left to threaten them with...what? Grounding. Grounding for missing that curfew, for taking that terrible's what we have to do to keep them from getting hurt. But even with all of our precautions and consequences, there will be kids, as there will be cats, whose curiosity trumps our best efforts.

So there we are, forever coaxing our loved ones away from peril. We have to do this; we should do this. But let’s always leave room for a little wonder and daring in their lives. The world is, after all, a marvelous place—and cowards (like me) miss most of the fun.

I watch Ruthie, perched in the window much like Evan was that long-ago evening, plotting her next adventure. I envy her…and wish her luck.

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