Pr0n-igal Son

It’s what parents says in every news story where they screw up and something horrible happens to a child:

“I just turned my back for five minutes.”

Jesus is watching (and plotting his revenge for all those jokes I make about him), so I’ll fess up that it was actually more like 15 or 20. I was in the next room on a phone interview for Thursday’s deadline. I was doing that thing I do where I suck as a mother so I can rub a couple of ┬ácoins together. To give myself credit, I’m not nearly as nuts with the freelance as I was when The Roo was a baby. At one point in her infancy, I found myself talking on a headset (another phone interview) and typing on the laptop as I bounced on an exercise ball to keep her quiet while I nursed her in a sling.

True story.

Yes, my very next call was to a therapist. Thanks.

But yesterday’s Joan Crawford Award moment resulted in a 4-year-old downloading an adult movie because Mom wasn’t there to get another on-demand Dora rolling. I’d asked him to not interrupt me while I was talking to my “work friend,” so he did his best to figure out the remote on his own to comply with my request.

But I hadn’t considered how hard that can be when you can’t read. And he just assumes that if you push enough buttons, Nick Jr. comes back.

But what he got was more along the lines of “Dora Does Dallas.” Thankfully, I got there at the beginning and it wasn’t anything too creepy, but it was yet another wakeup call that I need to focus more on him and less on deadlines.

And call the cable company to ask them to credit us that $9.99.

When Dear John got home, he asked the important questions:

“Is it still there, and can I still watch it?”

Time for me to turn my back for another five minutes.



In honor of Labor Day, my small people are working hard at one of those priorities that make sense only to people under 48 inches tall. They’re tag-teaming to build the perfect cat trap out of laundry baskets and beads.

Today’s cat trap, complete with doll blanket and kitchen towel.

“Put him in the wound pen!” the Wee Man just yelled.

Clearly the kitten needs more ground work. He’s only 3 months old, so he isn’t fully trained. Plus, he’s a Bengal cat, so he’ll never be fully trained. But I think Vetericyn, Ritchie Waterers and the whole Downunder Horsemanship gang would be proud that my 4-year-old wants to get the cat’s feet moving to engage his brain. He never even watches Clinton Anderson’s horse training videos with me (his sister does) so he’s clearly picking up THE METHOD by osmosis. If only he’d apply it to horses.

But for now, it’s all about cat-astrophes. Since this kitten came home last week, he’s been swaddled in blankets and deposited in various American Girl Doll accessories, added to Bat Cave adventures (luckily he seems to like lattes), nearly refrigerated, pillow-trapped into toy cubbies, pulled into the bathtub, and latched into plastic tool boxes. (That last one prompted an informative and overdue lesson on carbon-based life forms and their need for oxygen.)

But he’s also been cuddled, kissed, hugged, cradled, sweet-talked and universally adored.

This kitten is clearly a masochist. Here he is cuddled up in the arm of his oppressor. He was purring when I took this photo.

And now that Wee Man has taken a cat-catching break to tan under a reading light (That’s his story. I’ve mentioned before he’s weird.), Loco is watching with great interest from his perch just inches out of the range of the fluorescent light bulb.

There are many great things about our new kitten, but the best is he seems to love every minute of the constant and bizarre ways my kids try to show him the love.

There’s got to be a pithy parenting lesson in there. I guess I need to be more like the cat. I need to look past the discomfort of laundry bag traps and doll clothes and appreciate the fact that there are two hysterical kids sharing their love in crazy ways that makes perfect sense to them and no one else.

It’s enough to make me purr.