Kittens and Toddlers – Best Friends or Archenemies?

In my seventh month of pregnancy, two and a half years ago, my beloved adopted cat, Hercules, “dun r-u-n-n-o-f-t.” I was devastated. We looked everywhere. Hercules had a problem, though. He was possessive. Any other man who came into my life, he hated, like my husband and my two dogs. We all (family and friends) knew why he left. He sensed that I was pregnant, and that was the last straw. Like one of my favorite vocalists, Frank Sinatra, he was done with me once I crossed him.

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Hercules at Halloween, approx. 7 years old. I had him for a year, circa 2011.

Our suspicions were confirmed when my brother went for a walk in our neighborhood on Thanksgiving day, a few months after my son was born, and found Hercules. He picked him up and walked him back to our house. The closer my brother got to our property, the more agitated Hercules became. When I approached him, he growled and bounded out of my brother’s arms. No chance for a reconciliation. He was obviously well fed and seemed settled at his new home where my brother found him, so that let me rest well at night.

Fast forward a little over a year from the time he left. Our son, whom I’ll call Mac Attack, was using all his new words and making animal noises. Cat and kitten were favorites.

The hubs, being a sensitive and thoughtful guy, decided to get us a kitten – one who would be a family cat. Now, I would’ve gone to the shelter or pet store and brought the first kitten home (maybe a few), but the hubs has had lots of pets, cats included, and is a savvy shopper. He brought home our little tuxedo kitten one night. My awesome SIL, aka “the animal whisperer,” found her at the pet store in her small nearby town. Meet our girl, Zoe.

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Zoe is a kitten. How do you explain to a 1 1/2 year old that kittens chase things? Nobody told me I’d have to referee between my kitten and toddler.

Zoe’s toys: Megablocks; blankets; my bathrobe belt; Thomas the Train miniature toys; dump trucks; any mouth-sized toy; a plastic slinky. And that whole tuxedo cat thing? Yeah. Tree-cats. She gets on top of everything she can and looks for ways to get higher.

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I know having multiple children can be tough. What about an only child and a kitten? You can’t put the kitten in time-out to help improve its behavior. The kitten swats at Mac Attack (we keep her claws clipped), and Mac Attack swats back.

The following ensues:  “Don’t hit the kitten. But, it’s okay if she hits you. That’s how kittens play. But, we don’t play like that. People don’t hit when we play. So, no hitting.”

Seriously?

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Zoe in the Mega Block drawer. Waiting to pounce on the blocks.

Zoe has calmed a good bit, and she has her moments when she’ll be still long enough to let us pet her. Mac Attack pets her and they have their sweet moments until he puts a long blanket on as a cape, imitating the Cowardly Lion in the Wizard of Oz. He turns, and sees Zoe wrestling with my bathrobe belt. A double-whammy “mine, mine, mine” meltdown.

These are some of our problems in Toddlerville, but I’ll take ’em!

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Zoe and Mac Attack prowling the slinky…who will get to it first?

 

How about you? Do you have any funny toddler-kitten stories? Or toddler and any pet, for that matter?

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Surfers – Not Your Average Beach Bums

Hurricane Bill Cocoa Beach August 2009
Hurricane Bill, Cocoa Beach, FL, August 2009

I surf because it makes me a better person. The stigma is that surfing is a waste of time. Surfers are unkempt, irresponsible, and reckless.

I am a wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend. I work hard during the week and I play harder in my free time. I would love to live on Kona, Hawaii. There is no night life. On weekends, or during off-working hours, it’s not unusual to see people walking around with their paddles, outrigger canoes, surfboards, boogie boards and flippers at 6 am. At 9 pm, many folks are asleep. They’ve paddled, swum, surfed themselves into a peaceful state of mind and soft, cozy bed.

Surfing was at the top of my list when I came back to life after climbing my way out of the crisis of my life. I had been a shell of a human being. My family and friends had started to recognize me again when I bought my first board, nicknamed “Blue Lightening” – a fun board I bought in Cocoa Beach, Fl, hometown of surf legend Kelly Slater. I had already hired an instructor, Marcello, who was a fabulous teacher. We sat on the beach and he talked for a half hour and I listened. I learned all about safety and the basics. He then pushed me into waves and told me to paddle! paddle! I wasn’t paddling! I wasn’t paddling? My arms felt like noodles.

I wasn’t paddling. Surfing is mostly paddling. Nobody tells you that. Nobody tells you how much work it actually is. Nobody tells you, “Hey, the ocean. Yeah, it doesn’t ever stop. Always watch. Always.” Nobody tells you how hard you will have to work to paddle through all that damn whitewash to get to the outside of the break. You want to give up. The waves never stop. The ocean is not prejudiced. It doesn’t care about your age, gender, ethnicity, financial status, or physical fitness level. It will keep coming. You have to turtle roll or duck dive your ass off to get to the outside, often getting pushed back, wiping out before you ever get up on a wave. Over and over.

Surfing is work.

But the waves! That’s why you have someone teach you to pop up and push you into waves. If you don’t experience the exhilaration, you’ll never sweat and toil to get there. And once you experience that mountaintop, that first ride, you will be changed forever. The stories of “that wave” and “that wipeout,” the people you meet along the way, the relationships you make, and the calm that comes through the toil and the fun, allows you to be a much better person after that surf session than before. And the ocean, the ocean is not prejudiced. It doesn’t care about your age, gender, ethnicity, financial status, or physical fitness level. It will keep coming. And it will provide hours of challenges and fun resulting in relaxation and a better state of being.

Surfing Kaahaluu Break Kona, HI
Surfing Kona, Big Island, HI, Kahaluu break, June 2009

 

So, yeah, next time you meet a surfer and you want to scoff, do the right thing. Smile and wish them a great day. And, go ahead and ask where you can rent a board. Learn a little and you’ll never regret it.

Peace.