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This morning was a nonchalant morning for me: the routine cleaning of cat boxes, breakfast distributed, a doctor’s appointment. TV shows would come on later, but it would be much later, more towards lunch or dinner.
In the summertime, sometimes I let myself and the members of my household slide. It could be a slippery slide; it could just be a new toy. A new day shopping at a brightly lit store could make my entire summer. It’s never been hard to keep me happy, and my cats feel the same way.
So last night after I did my jiu-jitsu training on my mat in the safe harbor of what I like to call home, I heard Sara crying. I threw my head back and nostriled in all of the day’s worst events: the Russians, the pipeline, my parents. I strolled over to where Sara was standing on top of one of my cinder block walls, and my world was taken aback. Why are you up there? How to get you down? I am angry and concerned. I will now come and take care of you and you’ll spend the rest of your life in the laundry closet.
I’m not saying I wasn’t compromised at the moment. If Sara had been an elephant I would have simply leapt onto her and started swishing her inside the garage. But Sara is a cat, my oldest one…at six and a half, they get a little reedy.
I knew I had neglected her for five minutes too long, just poking my plants that aren’t growing and listening to John Legend, feeding the pigeons. I walked back to get her, down the galley of my own home, and there she was in all her glory standing on top of the cinder block wall.
“Sara you get right down here this minute,” I emitted.
She took a few steps and pretended to sniff the mesquite.
“Sara Mohler if you do not get down right now this is going to be a very sad tale,” I emitted again. I could have grabbed her then but I don’t like to grab—it’s better when people make their own decisions—so I just stood there and watched her jump off the wall into the neighbor’s yard.
My heart flew into my face, my lungs blocked my throat. How dare she and didn’t she know that Wondermama was coming right after her? How could she not know? Everything that was Meryl Streep and Steve Irwin flooded my blood chambers.
It’s not that hard to jump over the cinder block wall into Nabe’s yard because I have a utility shed under the mesquite and it works every time. For instance if I’m just swimming over there, it’s a skip and a jump, la la. But this time, I knew that Nabe had a doggy-exit door through which his dog could come out at any time and kill my baby. This was not swimming.
I think I turn into a monkey sometimes when it suits me; this is the only reason I can offer for my ability to hop onto a wall, throw myself down eight feet, capture myself and then start looking for a delinquent child.
Sara walks in the high grass that could be hiding six dead people. Does she know she could be killed by a dog at any second?
I grab my baby by the scruff of her neck and shake her a couple times so she can take in my repeated and angry phrase, “Don’t you do this again. Don’t you do this again. Mommy is scared for you and you should be scared too.” I hold Sara by the scruff of her neck until she whines, then I toss her over the cinder block wall into our yard. “And I will be there in two seconds missy so don’t try anything else,” I say.
I’m standing in my neighbor’s grapefruit yard, his pool off to the behind. I have to get out of here because if there is one thing you don’t do is save your child and then not be there for her recovery. I look up and down the fence line: concrete, wood, trees. This is my neighbor’s yard so it’s not familiar to me. I look at my body, what I’ve got on, and review my capabilities.
I take a running leap towards our shared cinder block wall, in the corner where there’s a little tree and he has a wood fence. My toes dig in and I am a monkey again, up and over, back into my yard, unscathed because I am just that smooth. I scoop up my cat and start telling her she’s grounded for weeks, for years. My anger is so up in my head that I have to put her inside and just sit outside, alone, for an hour.
I go through my mind for the usual punishments and repercussions: Should I ground her? Will she understand grounding? I consider holding back snacks, but I can’t be like that. I sit for a long while, considering punishments. I cannot be WonderMama every day, and I don’t have a babysitter. My kids aren't even old enough to pop popcorn yet.
My babies in bed, myself undercover, I start patting my own body down for injuries. Blood? Tender spots? I am not young anymore. I feel behind my knees and down my legs, behind my ears and one place on my arm.
There are bloodspots in my bed from yesterday, but not tonight.