My new kitten Leo is 17 days old today. My mom is 77 years old today. I’ll board a flight in three weeks for Minnesota to see my Mom, leaving Leo behind—Leo, who will then be five weeks and three days.
Math has never been my strong suit, but numbers are on my mind. I talked to Leo this afternoon, Leo curled up and purring under my chin:
Hey buddy. All things considered, things have been pretty easy for us so far. You’re still alive, which I’m eternally grateful for. I hope this makes up for the times I accidentally caused near-death experiences for that one nephew, and you, actually, and I’ve definitely done some unsafe driving. I want you to be safe in my care, and I think I can do it, but I’m going to have to leave you for nine days because I need to see my family. Of course you’re my family too, but I have to go to Minnesota; there’s no question.
So, about you…you, you, you. I was thinking we could work on our milestones at a slightly accelerated rate. I did some checking around and word has it that I’m babying you. That’s right: you’re not really a baby anymore. You’re twice as big as you were when you got here, and you make a nice arc when you piss—a sign, people say, of being ready for potty training. I’ve never potty trained a kitten, and everyone has different ideas on that, just like they have different ideas on when I should start you on gruel, if I should feed you gruel through your bottle, of if I should encourage you to lap the gruel. I stopped by the animal hospital today and they said we can start on gruel in four days, when you’ll be three weeks old. I know the connotation of “gruel” is not all that great, but my grandma used to make it for my dad when he was little, and he’s almost 78. See?
Beyond the gruel—and don’t worry, I have a good recipe—I wanted to talk a little about the shitfest we went through last night. It would be nice if you could stop being constipated because when you are, I suffer. I live to see you poop—honestly I do—because I know if you don’t, you’re uncomfortable, then I’m uncomfortable then your sisters are uncomfortable, then the whole world isn’t right. I was actually talking to the receptionist at your hospital earlier today and she said that I should envelop your backside in a hot compress: a warm washcloth heated in the microwave. Um…that kind of lies outside my areas of interest. It would be better if you could just suck on the bottle, get comfortable, and poop on the towel, instead of what you did last night which was waiting until you exploded shit on mommy’s shirt, then the towel, then everything that I could get my hands on, including yourself.
But that’s okay.
Some people have told me to stick dish detergent up your butt, but I would never do that. Sorry about the candle wax. We did try the hot compress, which you liked for ten seconds but then you started screaming. Sweetness, as much as mama doesn’t mind stimulating your butt and watching the results—toothpaste Wheaties, your distended tummy going back to normal size—we can’t do this forever.
Which brings us back to your milestones.
I know you’re just a baby, only 17 days old, but everyone is saying that you’re ready to grow up. Tomorrow we start litter box training, and on Sunday—when you’re three weeks old—we need to move into gruel.
I see you lapping, sweetpea. I know you can do it.
As much as I’d like to keep you a baby forever, and as much as I didn’t mind stripping my bed last night and throwing my yellow toothpaste sheets onto the patio and going back to sleep on my mattress pad under the afghan my grandmother gave me in 1978--it was the only clean blanket left in the house--things need to change.
So today while I smooch your big fuzzy head and you look at me like the alien I am, I just want you know that tomorrow, things will be different.