“Get away, Cat!” my youngest nudged her off the couch where he was sulking after I refused to let him walk out the front door shoeless and in pajamas. There was snow on the ground. He was mad at me that I wouldn’t let him have just mini donuts for breakfast. I had insisted he eat some “protein on the side” and he didn’t like any of the choices I’d offered: milk, cheese, or yogurt.
“Awww, the poor kitty…” I had been hovering nearby and clearing fragile items from his warpath. He can actually reach the deadbolt on the door and I wouldn’t have wanted him to stomp off “looking for a new family” while I was showering, even though I assured him that probably any other family he’d find that would take him in would insist that he eat a balanced breakfast before church. Nor did I want him destroying any of his brothers’ carefully built Lego creations or paper airplanes, or disrupting any of their artfully arranged personal belongings that were strewn about in locations only they could imagine were strategic. He had already trashed the bedroom, when I’d suggested he take a break and play Nerf basketball after getting into an argument about the Beyblade tournament he was having with his brothers. He’d been up since 6:15 and been on edge much of the time.
“What!? I don’t want her near me!”
“Well, that’s too bad – she’s apparently the only one that wants to be.” His older brothers were still watching the Sunday morning cartoons I’d let them turn on after “The Exercise Show” – it was about 8:15 a.m. I picked up the cat, who rarely extends herself to any of the kids unless I am right there with them. She is somewhat skittish still, even after living with us for nearly three years since being rescued by one of my brother’s friends. She used to be called “Dryer Kitty” because she would not leave my brother’s friend’s laundry room. She actually let me hold her without flexing her claws while I stage-whispered, “Don’t take him personally, Dee – he’s just having a grumpy morning.”
“Hmmmph!” My youngest, of course, had heard me, even though he’d removed himself from the couch and assumed the position of self-imposed exile under the breakfast bar.
“Listen, honey, you really need to start your day over. You can do that any time, you know.”
“Duh, mom. How do you think I’m gonna do that? It’s already light out.”
“Well, I don’t mean literally. For real. I mean in your imagination. Although…you could go get back into bed now, wait a few minutes while you think about things, and then get up on the right side of it…that would be one way to start over. And don’t say ‘duh’ to me.”
He tucked his chin and glared at me with angry eyebrows.
“Okay, then, push the imaginary reset button. Whatever you have to do. I have to go take a shower now. I don’t want to be late for church.” I hoped that he’d quit being such a pill if he didn’t have an audience.
“What – you’re just going to leave me down here?”
“No, you can go hang out with your brothers. Just don’t start anything with them.”
I showered quickly and went back downstairs to refill my coffee cup. My youngest had relocated, but not without tearing apart a floor puzzle of the solar system that my middle son and I had put together. It was a good thing my youngest had moved on, because that was about the last straw and I wouldn’t have wanted to yell at him.
Instead, I stalked back up to the bathroom and shut the door firmly. As I was getting ready, I heard the side door slamming a few times. God help me, I thought.
“Mom?” My oldest knocked on the bathroom door.
“I’ll be out in a few minutes. Can you use the one downstairs?”
“Oh, okay. No. I just wondered where you were.”
“You found me. Where are your brothers?”
“They went outside. They’re looking at the glow sticks.” The boys had constructed a snow structure the day before at dusk, complete with about 40 glow sticks.
“Did they put clothes on?”
I relaxed a little.
When I went downstairs I practically collided with my youngest, who was doing a happy dance in the dining room. “Oh, look at you…”
“Hi,” I said back. And to my middle son who was close behind him, “How?”
He just shrugged and hummed, “I dunno.”
“THANK YOU!” I pantomimed exaggeratedly, and then out loud, “Okay, everybody, turn around and walk right back out that door – it’s time to go to church!”