Monday, May 14, 2007
A New and Hideous Terror
A new and hideous terror entered my house Saturday. It was a peaceful spring morning. The cats lounged on various bits of household furniture languidly observing the birds that had gathered to splash in the water from the sprinkler. The dog quietly chewed a bone in the floor and I took my time rising and facing the day. Then IT happened. My sister pulled her SUV into the driveway and deposited her four-month-old daughter on my couch. The stillness was shattered like a baseball crashing through a window.
The only children in my house are the kind with four legs. The cats were mortified that I would allow such a smelly, noisy little thing into their house! Kit headed for her sanctuary under the bed. She wasn’t responsible for the disruption and she didn’t think she should be subjected to such horror. That thing on the couch was my problem. Hemmy couldn’t decide how to feel. He’d had breakfast and couldn’t see how the baby could interfere with that. He could have lived without the noise, though. He removed himself to the cat room at the back of the house and settled for watching the birds at the bird feeder. Friday, our customs inspector, began sniffing everything. There were plenty of items for him to cover: diaper bags, swings, car seats, the baby herself. It was as if Babies-R-Us had erupted in my living room – and my kitchen, dining room, office, etc. Friday didn’t really like the baby but he’s imperturbable regarding loud noises so he settled down in the corner to see if anything interesting developed.
Naturally, the screaming began 15 minutes after my sister left. I heated a bottle in the microwave all the time being harangued by my dog, Claire. Claire, who to date has tried to maul two children and hated her own puppies, suddenly decided motherhood becomes her. She moved back and forth between me and my niece, watching the baby soulfully and shooting scornful looks at me for not feeding the baby faster. She guarded the baby all day and would not let her out of her sight. Considering the look of extreme interest on Friday’s face, I decided a back up in baby guarding might not be such a bad thing.
Finally, the baby was fed, changed and sleeping soundly on a pallet in the corner of my dining room while I worked on a painting. Kit, drawn by a morbid curiosity decided to investigate. She tip-toed into the room and was past me before I was even aware of her. Slowly, as though stalking prey that might turn around and eat her, she crept toward the baby. She stretched her neck out as far as it would go, loath to get closer than necessary. With the tip of her nose, she leaned in and sniffed the baby’s foot. She recoiled in disgust and looked at me like I was crazy for bringing that nasty little animal into the house. Disdainfully, she sassed out of the room, presumably to groom any baby-scent off her pristine gray and white coat. Children, she no doubt thought, are better outdoor pets.
Hemmy, too, gave the baby a sniff. Once he’s finished digesting he becomes much more animated and can easily be persuaded to try new things. Still a bit on the fence, he approached the baby with his ears cocked to the sides in uncertainty. He sniffed the baby’s foot and she kicked him in the face. He jumped back confused and offended and shot her a nasty look. He decided babies aren’t for him.
Lucky thing for the cats that we don’t have a baby of our own. Kit and Hemmy would buy bus tickets and there’s absolutely no telling what evil scheme Friday would devise. The good news is the dog would be happy. She’s the only one though. My cats are happiest being the babies in this house!
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