The Tail of the Cat
May 18, 2010
I really struggled with yesterday's post. I almost abandoned it completely several times, thinking that maybe I should just publish some "before" photos from the party and keep my trap shut about the dropped bunny and turtle bit -- my big trap in which I keep my COPIOUS ANGST -- instead of putting that story out there. I didn't want to paint Noah as some kind of heartless monster, or make it sound like I thought he was, OR make it sound like I didn't get that his behavior was unacceptable and that petting zoo guy was SO WRONG about my preshus snowflake who is allowed drop-kick any animal he wants because: snowflake, my preshus.
But honestly, I knew I wasn't going to stop obsessing about it until I wrote it out. So I did. Also related the story to his teachers after school, who could not have been more nonplussed about it. This just in: Four-year-olds are just impulsive little shits sometimes.
Jason, oddly, remained unconvinced and thoroughly concerned.
"He's shouldn't have laughed," he said. "He should be able to empathize."
"Not until age six," I said.
Jason didn't respond, but waited for me to cite my sources.
"according to all my commenters on my blog okay?" I mumbled. "they all said kids don't truly empathize until around six years old and even after that some kids put frogs in lunch boxes and stepped on bugs and killed their fish and still grew up to be totally normal vegans and stuff."
Jason nodded. Then: "Wait. Back up to the frogs in lunch boxes part? What?"
Weirdly enough, though, neither of us had any personal memories to share about childhood "experiments" with animals -- pets or otherwise. I remember crying and tattling on my next-door neighbor when he stepped on anthills, and Jason swore he never so much as pulled his dog's tail. So perhaps that's why Noah's behavior struck as so foreign and OMG This Is A Terribly Big Deal.
(Also, I GOT YELLED AT. IN FRONT OF OTHER PEOPLE. I DON'T DO SO WELL WITH THAT.)
Later, the phone rang, right when we were finishing dinner. (Or, more accurately, as Jason and I finished up all the mashed sweet potatoes that our children refused to eat -- DELICIOUS mashed sweet potatoes, if I do say so myself, YOU UNGRATEFUL WEIRDOS -- and the boys sat on the couch and rocked their heads Night-at-the-Roxbury style to a Yo Gabba Gabba rap about bugs.)
"I bet that's my mom," I said. "She read my post and wants to tell me to chill the fuck out."
(That's kind of her thing. Only she can get a point across without potty words. I didn't learn how to curse until I got a summer job at Sesame Place.)
She actually wanted to tell me a story. I was older than Noah when it happened -- probably more like five or six. I was playing in the backyard and she pushed the kitchen window curtain aside, about to call me inside for lunch, when she hesitated for a second. I was standing on our back patio with a strange look on my face. I was looking back and forth, like I was getting ready to cross the street. I didn't see her watching me.
And then I raised my foot. And then. STOMPBLAMSMASH, I brought it down as hard as I could on our cat's tail.
I have absolutely no memory of this, even though the aftermath included PLENTY of yelling and scolding and go-to-your-rooming.
My mom, of course, remembers it like it was yesterday.
(Also the time my brother had his school portraits taken with visible teeth marks on his forehead, after he'd been bitten by my other brother. She told me this story after I had to pause the conversation to tell Noah to STOP SITTING ON YOUR BROTHER'S NECK. HE DOESN'T LIKE IT.)
Note to self: Call Jason's mother. I bet she's got the dirt.