I have tried to inculcate lessons learned from raising my human children into the upbringing of my cat, Beebe Baloo.
For instance, I try not to brag too much about his behavior. I found that didn’t work too well when raising my kids. Let me explain…
To this day, people who were around when my children were small still comment about how well-behaved they were. They really were, but I can recall instances when they really shocked me. One was when the Avon lady came to call. She looked at my round coffee table, covered with decorative objects and said, “How can you leave these articles out when you have little kids? I have to put everything up.”
“I decided I was not going to rearrange my house,” I responded, sanctimoniously. “I simply taught my children what they can touch and what they can’t.”
Just then my son – a toddler – came by and stuck out his little arm and swept all my precious items onto the floor. I was shocked, but I hadn’t quite learned my lesson. F
ast forward several years to when that same son was taking clarinet lessons. I, who have no musical talent whatsoever, was so proud of him. I actually could identify “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” when he practiced. I bragged and bragged on him. I didn’t have to nag him to practice, either. After school he went right up to his room and began to play for an hour each day. I was a very proud mama.
One day, he came in from school declaring the band leader had given him a recommendation. I was thrilled, envisioning that he would soon be on the stage.
“What did he recommend?” I asked him breathlessly.
“He recommended I quit,” he said delightedly.
It was then I found out he wasn’t practicing up in his room. He was reading comic books and playing a recording of his one performance of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.” Oh yes, pride does goeth before a fall.
Thus, when Beebe began taking an interest in the violin, I kept my enthusiasm contained. I had never heard of a cat taking violin lessons, but it would be awesome if he did. He might become a real-life “Cat and The Fiddle!” Still, I wasn’t going to push him. I had learned my lesson.
Day after day he would sit by a violin music box I had, and as it played, he would push at it with his paw, crying piteously. I felt sure he wanted to be a violinist and maybe also a singer. I probably had a cat genius on my hands, but I didn’t want to read too much into his behavior. As I said, I had learned my lesson, but I also didn’t want to be an obstructionist.
What should I do? Beebe took matters into his own paws. One day, when I turned the music box on, he took his seat beside it and began his meowing serenade as usual. He then took his paw to pat it in that rhythmical way of his. My heart swelled with pride. I would get him violin lessons! Before I could do anything, however, he took that paw and swept that music box on the floor. It broke into a million pieces.
The music stopped. He jumped down on top of it, stomped on it and batted it around. He gave one final hiss as he strutted away. Beebe did not want to become the “Cat and the Fiddle.” He did not want to become an opera singer. He merely wanted the noise to stop.
Yes, cats are like human kids, and this mama hasn’t changed much. She’s still too prideful and still misinterpreting what’s really going on.
By Judy Conlin