On a Saturday not long ago, we had no plans, and no place to go, as is mostly the case during our pandemic life.
My petite Lark was bored and complaining that she had nothing to do, although she owns all the toys and art supplies in the universe.
I suggested that we all grab a book and have a “family reading session” in the living room for half an hour. Admittedly, I expected her to scoff at this suggestion as she had the other 1,000 ideas I’d offered up, but she agreed.
For 30, blissful, quiet minutes, we sat together but apart, each person reading a book of our own choosing.
I’m sure you know one of those families that are so outdoorsy and stoic that it’s irritating. They’re always headed off on epic cycling trips or month-long paddling excursions. They don’t have any wimpy kids in their brood, who constantly whine, “My legs are tired. Are we almost there?”
No. Their kids completed their first triathlon at the age of 6 and can easily carry a 20-lb pack as they scale mountains.
I aspire for us to be one of those families. And I’m ready to irritate you with tales of our stoicism.
For the first time in an age, I’m alone in a house filled with silence. Well, almost alone. My husband is “at work” upstairs. Employing quotes implies that he isn’t actually working. He is.
I cannot hear My Little Pony playing on the TV downstairs. I cannot hear my son humming repetitively under his breath while he concentrates on something. I cannot hear the sound of my daughter’s foghorn flute voice asking me for a cup of water/a snack/a show/another snack/help/a sweater/clean socks/a cookie/screentime/playtime.
There are a lot of posts and memes going around right now about how much we Gen Xers are showing quarantine/social distancing who’s boss. At the risk of sounding like a crotchety member of the older generation, it’s true. In our day we had to play with pet rocks for chrissakes!
Sometimes it feels like the kids of today have it all.
And by all, I mean things like devices that cost hundreds of dollars and provide endless hours of fun and excitement. When I was a kid, it was mind-boggling to have, like, Atari. (We never had Atari.) Even a game as low-budget as a Wonderful Waterful was pretty entertaining. (And honestly, I don’t know if we actually had one of those either.)
Back in the heyday of the 80s, when you went over to a friend’s house, you played outside in the backyard. Completely unsupervised of course. My brother and his friend used to light GI Joes on fire using cans of Lysol spray to incinerate them.
A few years back, I promised my son that we would get a cat, because, “everyone else” had a pet, except for us.
And then, no further action was taken. Together, the Bean and I often looked at cat profiles on rescue sites, and wondered if Fluffysocks or Martin were the cats for us. Despite saying that we would get a cat, I couldn’t take action on it, because, frankly, I just couldn’t imagine another thing that needed ME to keep it fed and alive.
On occasion, someone would ask us if we owned a pet, and my son would answer with eternal optimism, “No, but we’re getting a cat soon.” And I would feel guilty and write the item “Get Cat” on my current To-Do List.
Then in November, I spotted a litter of kittens that needed homes on a local rescue site. I sent an email, and within a couple of hours was on the phone with the woman who was fostering the cats. She told me she had named all of the kittens after chocolate bars.
And that’s how Snickers and Mr. Big entered our lives.
Snickers is a snuggly, black-and-white tuxedo. Mr. Big is the ginger with the personality to match. These brothers have kept us on our toes since the day they arrived, providing endless amusement with their shenanigans.
Okay, there have been some stressful moments, as when I caught Big playing with a button battery, and when I found myself Googling “plants toxic to cats.” And discovered that most of our plants are indeed, toxic to cats.
Despite the extra work and the demise of my leather furniture, these kitties have brought some much-needed fun and cuteness into the house, at a time that we were beginning to feel that things couldn’t get much worse.
Yes, I’m now a crazy cat-lady who shows pictures of my kittens to random people on the street. If you want to see more pics, these tech-savvy dudes have started their own Instagram account.