Crying and swimming always make me tired; together, these two activities can make for centuries-long slumber. Since the comfort of sleep has been beckoning me too much lately—an Amber Alert for my spirit—the person in charge of me wants to make sure that I really deserve sleep when it finally arrives, and for God’s sake it better be a natural sleep too.
Therefore, on the day that I cry on the phone with my sister, perhaps the saddest of sad days so far, I am inclined to listen more carefully later when one of my cats wants to tell on another. What other good are you doing? the person in charge of me asks as I sink into the couch.
I roll my eye and turn my attention to my middle child, Lucy, lying like the Sphinx next to me, ready to indict her little brother, Leo.
“Mother,” Lucy meeps to me. She can never say anything without emphasis.
“Yes, my sweetpea,” I say back.
“I just wanted you to know that when you were gone to get your pedicure earlier, and when you came back and the cooking string was all over the place, it was…um…Bubba who did that.” She pauses. “Not me.”
Lucy stretches out and tilts her eyes back at me like she’s telling me something I don’t know. I resent her in that moment. I deserve the lesson, but somebody has to be the leader around here. I revert back to firm verbal footing while continuing to put the lotion on its skin: “It’s not nice to tattle,” I say.
I wonder in my brain, far back from the fences of reality, where and when the people of my household starting calling the most recent arrival “Bubba”. It’s not his given name, and no one heard it from my lips, so I deduce that it must be something organic to do with the pronunciation of “brother”, or perhaps—all nature dismissed—because his father calls him that. Or both.
“Well I wasn’t trying to tattle so much as I was trying to tell you that in addition to loving you and needing you and wanting you all to myself, I wanted to remind you that playing with string isn’t safe for kittens, which I had to learn myself.” She stops meeping and conveys the rest with eyes full of soul: I’m sure you remember.
Well, I’d only had one kitty before Lucy, and he didn’t like string, so I had incorrectly assumed from that experience that none of my cats would ever like string, and never imagined that I would ever acquire a string addict. It took a few clean-ups in aisle nine for me to figure out that string wasn’t just a toy to Lucy; it was an infatuation, to the point that if she could have survived on eating string alone, she would have.
“I remember, sweetie,” I say, scratching her chin. She conveys the rest: I just wanted you to know that when I saw what Bubba was doing, I shooed him away and then—though it was very hard—I didn’t eat any, either.
She’s reminding me of what a good girl she is, when I already know it so much. I have been remiss in acknowledging and rewarding good efforts around this place, including my own.
The person in charge of me gives me permission to cry one more time, but just for five minutes. Then she makes me swim.