Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Parenting Fail

I have a confession. Last night I failed as a parent and as an adult. Now I get why my mother TO THIS DAY tells the story of walking the entirety of JFK International Airport trying to find her 8 year old (me) a hotdog and failing. My father had been stationed in Iceland. He'd been there for months while we lived with my mother's parents waiting for Dad to find housing for all of us. When finally he did, my sister and I were taken out of school, removed from our doting grandparents (very likely to my mother's everlasting relief), our beloved felines abandoned - one pregnant - and here we were. About to leave the United States in the middle of winter, bound for the great unknown. We had to get dinner before getting on the plane. I was offered a steak. I wanted a hotdog. Pizza? HOTDOG.

My poor mom. Faced with little kids desperate for some sense of familiarity and comfort and she couldn't make it happen.

This morning I have complete empathy for that twenty-something woman trying to parent an 8 and a 6 year old. This morning, I am also more grateful than ever that I never had children of my own.

At midnight, about an hour and a half after I'd finally gotten to sleep, Autolycus woke me by pulling my hair. Okay. To be fair, he was kneading, but he knew exactly what he was doing. "Mom," he purred, while drooling lovingly into my face, "I'm hungry." I was annoyed, but I got up and made him something to eat.

He snubbed it.

I was more annoyed, but I took it away and offered kibble.

He snubbed it.

Angry at that point, I put the kibble away and climbed back into bed. I must have misunderstood. But the second I put my head on the pillow, there he was. Yanking my hair and, now, licking my face. I got really mad. "WHAT?? What do you want?"

The boy recoiled and slowly, sadly turned his back and curled up. A little orange ball of misery that clearly said I'd stomped on his tiny, tender feelings, you big meanie.

Still grumbling, I got up again and got him water. Maybe that was his issue. I put the dish before him. He turned his face away. His ears drooped. I could almost see his little shoulders shaking in grief.

Oh my gawd. M A S S I V E  G U I L T. Who's supposed to be the adult here? Who's supposed to remember that the boy is aged and ill and that I'm lucky to get to be awakened by him at all? That's right. Me. The cat parent who is failing as a parent on an epic scale. Brilliant. Cue the abject apologies.

He did not want to hear them. Also did not want to be touched. Okay. I deserved that. No problem. Let's try a few more food options, shall we? Let's start with the current favorite - a can of Tiki Cat Lamb and Beef Liver. (Barf.)  As I got yet another plate and dumped grotesque globules of goo thereupon, the DH, awakened by all the drama, rolled out of bed to attend to business. I set the plate of food before the cat.

He ate. No histrionics. No accusation. Just a plain, simple, intimation that I'd been 100% unreasonable about being awakened at midnight so I could dirty four plates, and three of them for nothing.

As the DH and I stood beside the bed waiting for the cat to finish eating (what? You thought he'd get up??) I sighed.

What I said then, I say again this morning: I hope to all the gods that I am the only person on the planet so fatally attracted to creatures that seem bent on exposing my every flaw as a human being.