The one that comes to mind involves my older daughter, Payton. She moved in with us shortly before she turned three. Having only the experience of parenting my son, Eli, I assumed she would benefit from the same parenting techniques he did.
This parenting thing is all a trial and error, as you all know.
This was more of an error…
I was in the kitchen making lunch (maybe it was dinner) when Payton walked in and stubbed her toe on the table.
My son gets distracted and laughs if we exaggerate how we’re going to fix his injury so when Payton started crying, I said, Oh, no, we’re going to have to cut off your toe!
She didn’t understand I was joking.
Her brown eyes got huge and she grabbed her toe, screaming.
Both Eli and I had to do a lot of talking to convince her I wasn’t serious.
The therapy jar got a $50 bill after that one…
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I began writing this post last week. As with all my posts, I want the words to spill fluently from my fingertips and weave a story others will want to read. I want it to be visually appealing, with correct grammar and punctuation. But in the last 24 hours I still haven’t posted this blog and it occurred to me that anything I say on this blog is for me and my Clyde, not my readers, and so it doesn’t need to be perfect. (Though, I still hope you enjoy reading my words.)
This weekend, Memorial Day weekend, it is two years since I had to say good bye to you, my Clyde. Not a day has passed where I do not think of you. You were so Mainecoone; such “gentle giant,” with a dog-like disposition. There are no truer words I can say of you, my Clyde. I love you and miss you every day.
A walk down memory lane…
I adopted Clyde from the pound when he was 6-8 weeks old. I was always a sucker for the underdog. Despite my starving student status, I adopted this little guy who had something wrong with his leg, which required over $200 of treatment. He had a punctured ligament and the vet put his little leg put into a green cast. He warned me that this may heal up the leg or he may always have a limp.
I called him my little gimp kitty, just one of many fond nicknames he would have over the years.
I took Clyde home and put him in my bedroom so he could acclimate to his new surroundings. He slept by my head each night and was waiting at the door when I got home from school. During this time he connected with me with as much loyalty as a dog.
One day I left the bedroom to take out the garbage and I didn’t close the door all the way. When I came back inside, he was waiting by the glass door. My roommate told me, Seconds after you went out the door, I heard a galump-galump-galump and saw a blurry fuzzball race by.
A couple months later I moved into a one-bedroom apartment. Clyde and my other kitty, George, liked to play in the middle of the night. They raced up and down the hardwood floors, skittering to a halt outside my bedroom door. They kept waking me up. Finally, I started closing the door when I went to bed. One early morning I found Clyde sleeping by my head. I must not have closed the door tight enough.
The following night it happened again. What the heck?
And it kept happening. I’d close the door and he’d be sleeping by my head the next morning. I was completely perplexed. How was he getting into my room? One day I observed him jump up and swat at my bedroom’s French door handle – thwack! thwack! thwack! After a couple of attempts, he lowered the handle enough that the door opened and he strolled inside.
I was impressed, though I’m not sure if it was more that he figured out how to open the door or he wanted to be with me so badly he learned.
Clyde also played fetch. He dug wadded up sticky paper from the trash from the de-fuzzing roller. I found them everywhere. One day I tossed one into the waste basket. He saw me, pulled it out of the can, then brought it to me. Is he playing fetch? I tossed it down the hallway and he went after it. Instead of swatting it around like a ball, he brought it back and dropped it at my feet. Thus began our morning ritual of playing catch before I had to leave for work or school.
Clyde understood cause and effect.
I’d purchased an electronic litter box; a splurge worthy for a starving student who lived in a tiny apartment with two cats. It sensed when the cat jumped into the box, and then when the cat jumped out. Subsequently it would push the litter and the cat’s gifts to the tray at the end. I’d only had this thing a few days (by the way, save your money; they don’t really work) when I heard the brrrrr, brrrrrr, brrrrr, brrrrr of the machine over and over again. I went to see if the box was malfunctioning and saw Clyde thump out of the box and sit down. He avidly watched as the box did its thing. Then he hopped in after it was back in place, stayed for a moment, hopped back out, and sat in front of it to watch.
Everyone remembers where they were on 9/11. I was sitting on my bed watching the terrorist attacks on TV. I was frozen until Clyde came strolling into the bedroom. I scooped him up and held him on my lap He hated to be held. But he must have known something was wrong because he let me hold him for longer than two seconds.
I could go on and on about my amazing boy, but I will do the rest in bullet point.
He got sick and stopped eating so I used behavior modification to get him to eat again. He loved to chew on plastic so every time he ate a piece of food, I let him chew on it for a few seconds. Of course, this turned out to be a mistake because then he chewed on plastic whenever he wanted something.
I had food poisoning and he sat with me in the bathroom while I got sick, joined me on the bed when I felt better, and escorted me back to the bathroom when I got sick again.
He followed me everywhere, even if I was pacing back and forth down our hallway.
He sat in my home office while I worked, insisting on petting by bumping my chair, and then bumping it again if I dared pet him without looking at him.
He slept on my side of the bed at night and during the day. His loyalty to our connection was so strong that when my husband and I went through a rough time and I was sleeping in the guest room, he not only slept there at night but also during the day.
When I got married and had my first a child, Clyde was there to remind me that he was my first baby.
He kneaded and purred whenever he saw me, and offered his belly for me to bury my face and shed my tears when things were tough. My husband often laughed at the measures Clyde went through to be with me and get attention from me. Clyde actually seemed jealous when I gave our other cats attention!
He’s far more dog-like than a Mainecoone, hubby said once. He’s co-dependent!”
When he got sick, I did everything in my power and my husband’s paycheck to make him better.
I even bought a lottery ticket and prayed to win so I could get chemotherapy for his cancer. I didn’t win.
He was with me less than two months after he got his diagnosis. He was doing fine until one day he wasn’t. He was sleeping in places he didn’t usually go, his appetite drastically decreased; he was restless. I knew the end was near. You gotta tell me when it’s time, I told him, thinking of Marley and Me. I’ll know it’s time to let you go when you stop purring for me. Okay?He purred; it wasn’t time yet.
And then one morning I woke up and he wasn’t in our bedroom.
My husband said, I found him sleeping alone in the play room last night. When I pet him, he didn’t do anything. Gently, he said, Clyde isn’t there anymore.
I didn’t want to believe this but when I went to pet him, there was no purr. As hard as I listened to his belly and as much as I felt his throat, there was nothing.
I held him in my lap in the car outside, windows cracked, while my vet and along-the-way friend gave him the injection. I held him on the way home, petting his fluffy fur. We buried him in the backyard. I cried the whole time, and still do.
Tears are falling as I write this.
There is a connection in my heart, and that’s where he’ll always be.
Remember what it was like as a child? Innocent and carefree, not a concern in the world!
My almost 11-year-old son asked the other day why I don’t let him watch R-rated movies with violence or play M-rated video games. (His father’s favorite is BioShock.)
I asked him if he knew the meaning of ignorance. He more or less did.
I explained the phrase “ignorance is bliss.” He didn’t understand because his teacher has a sign that says “the only cure for ignorance is education.” I told him that was true but I wasn’t talking about school smarts.
I asked if there were things he knew now that he wished he didn’t, such as there being no Santa Claus. He said yes.
I told him once you’ve lost your innocence, you can’t get it back.
The video above shows my daughter carelessly skipping down the sidewalk. It is the reason I don’t let my son play those video games or watch those movies.
It can be hard to stand behind this belief when other parents don’t share it.These rules can be hard for my son to accept. But I am committed to preserving his innocence as long as possible.
What are your thoughts on this subject? Do you have parenting beliefs and/or styles that butt heads with other parents or even society as a whole?