Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Cat Herding and Parenting

Cats. They are cute little balls of fluff...when they want to be. They can also be complete jerks. It all depends on the angle of the sun and the soil acidity in Kathmandu. Actually, I made that up. There is no formula for understanding cats.

Owners of dogs will have noticed that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they will think you are God. Whereas owners of cats are compelled to realize that, if you provide them with food and water and affection, they draw the conclusion that they are God. - Christopher Hitchens

Then we come to today's holiday celebration: Cat Herders Day. Cat Herders Day is a day to ponder all those tasks that we try to accomplish on a regular basis that are accomplished as well as herding cats. That is to say: not accomplished at all.

Being a parent often feels like a never-ending battle against the frustrating and seemingly impossible task of trying to figure out what you're doing. Trying to get your kids to do as they're told and treat each other like fellow humans while they're running in three different directions really makes you wonder what you've gotten in to.

1. Laundry. I don't think I need to say much else. Laundry is a never ending task. When you get the last sock, in the last basket matched and put away, you can barely take a breath before someone pees in the bed, or throws up on the couch. And there you have it: more laundry.

2. What's for dinner? Who knows! Just because somebody enjoyed something last week doesn't mean they'll actually eat it again. Over the weekend my family stopped at a taco truck. I asked Benjamin several times what he wanted to eat and he said, "I don't like that food. I'm going to eat at home." So I didn't order him anything. When we all sat down with our food, he looked at me and said, "Where's mine?"

3. Physics of appetites. We also went to a restaurant for Frances' violin concert. We weren't planning on eating because it was 3:00. We ate before we got there. My parents ordered pizza anyway. Henry ate some. And he drank a whole bottle of root beer. Then he told me his belly hurt. "Son, what happens when you eat even though you aren't hungry?" "I get a belly ache?" "So why did you eat the pizza?" "I don't know." Repeat ad naseum until he figures that one out.

4. Language acquisition. "MOMMY!! Benjamin called me a butt face!!!" "Do you know where he learned that word???" "Me?" "Yes, dear. You called him that about 10 minutes ago."
Why is it okay for to call someone a butt face, but not to be called one yourself. I believe this is the question Descartes was really pondering!

5. Habit forming. "Mommy, I'm done eating breakfast. What should I do next?" <--My daughter, every morning before school.
"Have you brushed your teeth? Combed your hair? Washed your face? Looked at the chart I made you?"  <--Me, every morning before school.
"No."  <--Her, every morning before I lose it.

6. Husbands: "Honey, have you seen the <fill in the blank>?"
     Wives: "Did you look <in the place where it belongs>?"
     Husbands: "Hey look! Here it is!"

7. Kids: "Mommy, where are my <fill in the blank>?"
    Moms: "Did you look <in the place where it belongs>?"
    Kids: "Hey look! Here it is!"

8. Me, Friday afternoon: Do you have any homework?
Kids: I don't think so.
Me, Saturday morning: Is there anything you need to clean out of your backpack?
Kids: No.
Kids, Sunday evening: Do we have any glitter? I have to turn in this project tomorrow.

9. Kids: Can you get me cereal? I can't reach it.
    Kids: I can't wash my face because I can't open the closet to get a wash cloth.
    Kids: I can't put away those toys. The shelf is too high.
    Kids: The milk is too heavy. Will you pour it?

    Me: Who ate the candy that I hid in the back of the freezer underneath this bag of ice???

      Them at bedtime: <hug each other> "Good night." "I love you." "Bubby, you forgot your hug!"
      Me: WHAT?!?!?!

Herding cats could never be as rewarding as finally getting to see that your kids really do love each other.

What "cat herding" routines do you go through on a regular basis?

Please note this is our last regular #TuesdayTen linkup of 2015. Beginning in 2016, we'll be posting once a month, so check back for details and topics!

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