Monday, January 23, 2006

If we didn't love them we'd eat them

So I don't have children, I have pets in the form of two cats which may not be as interesting or at least as conversation-worthy as children but are an awful lot easier to take care of.

Admittedly, after eating, sleeping and shitting there's not much else to them if you don't count bizarre howling episodes at inopportune times and biting the hand of a woman I care about very deeply. On the other hand, the one not bitten, they don't talk back (much), educational outlays are minimal and you'll never worry about their first date if you practice preventitive veterinary care as you should. I couldn't see myself peering out a darkened window at Earl the Tom's little kitty-mobile parked just a few minutes too long to just say good night to my favorite furrbag any more than I could stare out at some mouth-breather's Mustang parked just a little too long to just say good night to my daughter without my intervening by coming out and grounding Melissa until she's, say, eligible for pension benefits while at the same time making an indelible impression in Johnny's forehead that might just read "DROF."

Cats are much more low maintenance, kids are not. And for every one who thinks cats are little conspiratorial creatures who spend their day in feigned sleep while cooking up little adventures like bringing breakfast up on the living room floor while you are flat on your back with the flu, I'll relate this anecdote:

Called my good friend Annie the other day. A young voice answers the phone and I ask for Annie and the child runs off to tell her mother a rabbit has learned how to dial. Annie and I get about two minutes in before the cherub decides it's time for her mothers wholly undivided attention and a three way conversational pandemonious cacauphony results. Now this little one has probably spent the afternoon ankle deep in papier mache and crayons and has cared not a whit that her mother is about dusting, cooking, vacuuming and the like. But let her pick up a book, the newspaper, or heaven forefend, answer the phone and she realizes that attention deficit gives as well as takes.

My friend Jim's daughter is like that. Physicists come to study her as they find out about a black hole's behavior when they see her suck all the room's attention into a highly concentrated vortex with her at its epicenter. She's a little like a small, sweet, locomotive. When I come by to pick daddy up to head off to a road race, she's tired and quiet. Light the fire with a few simple questions like "what did you do in school this week?" and she quickly heats up, builds a good head of steam and profers forth without hesitation, interruption or pause for that matter. Getting out of there alive with Jim and most of my hearing, I ask him if she's just on some sort of kid high or always like that, chatting without end.

"Oh no, she's like that until bedtime." Explains the recliner he keeps in the garage.

When my niece asked if I wanted to play after I showed up at her house on the tail end of a six hour car trip, I said "no." Her father explained that I had to give reasons why. "I've got my reasons." I clarified to the child.

Don't get me wrong. I like kids. Just because the paternal wire is unhooked off my main circuit and dangling never to be connected doesn't mean I can't appreciate children. In fact, I'll play with them, tease them, rile them up and just when they've hit the apogee of hyperactivity, I happily hand them back to mom and dad.

Now what's not to appreciate there?

Bunny on.

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