the life and times of owning pets, and the reason i renamed my cats

IMG_2541

long ago, probably about five, six, maybe seven, eight years ago brad announced he knew someone, or talked to them in passing, or something, and mentioned that the person had told him about a cute, little, itty-bitty, barely-born, newly-arrived kitten.

he wondered if he could have it.

hum.

i have forever been opposed to pets because kids tend to think all they have to do is pretty much nothing. just occasionally (operative word here) engage with their newly obtained hobby. goldfish died due to an overload of food. while on the other hand, hamsters starved to death.

for me, it was too much to handle. little kids running around asking mommy this, mommy that, mommy, mommy mommy, which caused me to forget there was a pet in the house. i had tunnel vision. hence, supervised kids. unsupervised critters.

which meant no more pets. no. never. not on my watch.

until brad showed me, and roberto (a huge pet advocate), an adorable photo of the kitten he had mentioned. he caught me off guard. sly kid. the kitten’s big green eyes and fluffy fur was hard to resist, for all of us, apparently. please, please, please they both whispered, hands clasped into steeples, prayer-mode.

ok, i said.

say what? what did i say? i asked myself.

really?! they both screamed.

really, i mumbled.

as they were walking out the front door, i said, bring home two. (again, what the heck was going on with me?)

two? you sure?

yeah, you know, to play together.

within the hour they brought home Cassandra and Skyler (named later that afternoon by the boys). fraternal twins. one black, one multicolored. both with green eyes.

i was smitten.

still am.

roberto recently moved out and brad is a busy 17 year old. both engaged elsewhere, most of the time. so, aside from brad allowing them to sleep in his room, the girls belong to me. i tend to them 99% of the time, and i even renamed them. (the kids don’t know this, they’d probably think i’ve gone bonkers, but oh well, a caretaker’s got to do what a caretaker’s got to do, right?)

cassandra’s now-name is chicka-chicka-boom-boom (which, ironically, is the title of an adorable kid’s book about the lower case letters of the alphabet climbing a tree, thinking they know what’s what) because of her diva personality and i refer to skyler as skitter. so sweet, yet so nervous. she has never been able to fully relax.

ah, there she is. I can hear chicka-chicka-boom-boom’s deep guttural mew call me. ¬†she wants in the house for a quick nibble of chow and a full-on vigorous back rub. she likes her cheeks gently caressed as well.

spoiled. i know.

 

grades

IMG_0636

She talks. Alot. During class. During recess. In the library. While on the computer. At the lunch tables. Talk. Talk. Talk. She’s what you’d call a social butterfly. And a gossip. Someone who knows everything about everyone. I know because she tells me. Gives me the scoop about her life. Their life. Everyone’s social life.

As much as I understand the social aspect of growing up. Of life. Of being a student. I also know the importance of getting good grades. Grades that build upon each other. Year after year. Success after success.

Seriously, people, I tell the kids. You really need to understand how important the grades you receive are. They are a reflection of your determination.

As I was giving my speech, she was talking to the girl. To the boy. Both sitting behind her. I’d look at her. I would stare. And she’d quickly turn around. Until I began lecturing again. About how some day they’d all be going off to college. To educated themselves even further. Go to great colleges. Because they were getting great grades. Because they persevered.

And again, she talked. To the girl next to her. To the boy in front of her. She even passed a note to the girl diagonal from her. A note I had to intercept. A note that interrupted my train of thought. A note that had nothing to do with school. But everything to do with who was dating who, and who be stilled her heart.

On the day I handed out report cards, the grade reports of all my students. Many kids happily accepted the take-home-share-with-your-parents-news while others cringed at the thought of what lay inside the sealed envelope.

I watched her skip out the classroom door. Across the blacktop. And then she ripped opened her achievement marks. She tossed her head back. Wasn’t surprised by the comment I wrote. The comment stating she needed to focus more, talk less. She leaned her face down. Concentrating on the not-so-great marks she received. Then she looked at her friend’s report. Seeing how they compared. They laughed. As if everything was A-OK. That life was just grand.

Suddenly, she was at my classroom door. Having returned unexpectedly. And all she said to me was It’s your fault I didn’t get good grades.

Explain that to your mom, I responded. And she walked back out. Onto the blacktop. And sat with her bestest friend. Watching the cutest boys in school. Giggling about this and that. Him and her. About everything except the importance of good grades.