Raven appeared on our porch and in our lives two days before the Mother’s Day big snow, only he was still Murray at that time. It took this grifter 1 hour to elicit a bowl of milk from our kitchen, 2 hours to convince me to run to the store for cat food, 24 hours to put a chink in my no-cats-inside armor, 3 days to see me researching litter boxes and four days to bludgeon me into spending $500 at the vet. (Sterilization and inoculation to prep this mangy creature for domestication) I had every intention of standing my ground and keeping this vagrant at arm’s reach, but I was no match for Raven’s big cat personality. My resolve began to slip when I observed how this stray interacted with my daughter; He was vocal and affectionate and would appear out of nowhere when Anya called. They had become fast friends and this feline quickly adapted to our schedule, recognizing that a car in the driveway meant that Anya could play. The real turning point for me came the Monday following the big snow. Our furry friend had survived inclement weather and a neighborhood coyote only to tempt fate by taking his siesta in the middle of the street. Raven seemed oblivious to danger and it was decided that we must rescue this cat from himself. We followed a background check with kitty paperwork and a subcutaneous chip in the process of making this cat a member of the family. I am now saddled with a cat box, twice as much pet hair (we already had a malamute) and anecdotes about chasing kitty through the neighborhood at 2 in the morning in my robe with my husband shadowing us in his underwear. But most importantly, I possess the absolute conviction that Raven, formerly Murray, is worth it.
Star Wars and Diapers
Finn was potty trained in one day. We had introduced the boys to the concept one weekend at the mountain house where a trip to Target and creative application of ear plugs and masking tape resulted in 2 anatomically correct cabbage patch kids. Sleight of hand, assisted by a squirting water bottle and crumbled brownies, gave these dolls human functions, primarily the ability to use the toilet. This bathroom pantomime required no command performance for Connor. Already a high achiever, he practiced and learned from accidents and by summer’s end, was ready to advance up to a diaper-free classroom at preschool. Finn was less interested. He rather liked making bubbles in the toilet with his brother, but had no desire to sit down on the contraption. He was sincere in his admiration for Connor’s new skill, but who would want to sit on a toilet with a bear bottom? The book I had read to prepare for twins had recommended keeping them together; Psychologically and cognitively, twins do better when their mirror image is close enough to interact and exchange ideas so it was imperative that Finn move up in preschool as well. Thinking outside the box, and perhaps killing two birds with one stone, I asked my husband if I could incentivize potty training by rewarding success with Star Wars toys. Understand that I am not a Star Wars fan, but my husband is and while I entered into marriage with very little personal effects, my husband entered with bins and boxes and bags of Star Wars collectibles that I was expected to organize and store. I dreamed of garage sales, I longed for “Clean House” to remove this clutter. I was drowning in simplistic plots and bad dialogue made into plastic idols for the masses. Maybe we could give some of daddy’s “toys” to our kids rather than waiting to be made rich by a too prolific marketing strategy. To my surprise, my husband did not dismiss my idea, rather he limited the toys that could be separated from their packaging to those acquired at Taco Bell or Burger King. It was fine to break out the happy meal toys, but the licensed, trademarked action figures that actually cost money might still send our kids to college. Small victories. I had had the foresight to separate the fast-food toys from the rest and was storing them in a bin of their own. I opened it up and chose a few interesting baubles, and called the kids down to hear my spiel. The plan was that if Finn sat on the potty and went number two, all three of my kids would get a Star Wars toy. Motivation for Anya and Connor to stay engaged and support Finn in his potty journey. As expected, the kids were excited , so I brought the whole bin of toys out and let them peruse their plunder. It took about two seconds for Connor and Anya to begin asking Finn if he needed to go potty and encouraging him to give it a try. Encouraged, Finn took off all of his clothes, perched naked on the toilet seat and proceeded to make his first big boy poopy ever. Success! Everyone cheered and the kids gathered for a round of Taco Bell Star Wars prizes. I was glad my idea had met with triumph and proud of Finn for taking this big step. I was not prepared for the rest of the day’s events however. The kids had seen the toy bin. It held years of prizes from multiple movies and plotlines. Who could be satisfied with just one item? To my surprise, the morning’s efforts were repeated a total of five times throughout the day. I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t been a witness, but with very little coaxing, and no unusual foods or drinks, Finn was able to score a total of 5 toys each for he and his siblings. I wondered at the sincerity of Finn’s new attitude towards bathroom habits. Had we been mistaken to use such rewards? Would he need a Star Wars toy every time he went for the rest of his life? I am happy to say, 9 years later that Finn is a healthy and well-adjusted kid who prefers the privacy of a stall in public venues, but otherwise has no unusual proclivities around his bathroom habits. He is a Star Wars fan, however, and may one day use the collection he has amassed from my husband’s single years to potty train his own son.
Indoor Air Quality; Smoke as a Mensuration of my Recovery
We sit down to eat together as a family and no one mentions the smoke. It simply isn’t a priority. Our new normal takes no notice of hazy dining, but it is proof of lowered expectations. Before the accident, this situation would’ve been unacceptable. Complaints would have been voiced and the situation resolved. Post-accident, we avoid drawing attention to my limitations and quietly trust that one day I will be well enough to remedy the situation. The problem isn’t a new one. The door locking mechanism on the stove hasn’t worked in years, thus preventing use of the self-clean program and a simple solution to the smoke. What is required now, and used to be expected, is oven cleaner and gloves and lots of bending and straining of the neck, which now proves impossible. To passerby, a simple solution might be for my husband to take over the job. What they couldn’t know is that he has taken over everything I used to do, and has no time to take a breath. It just isn’t a priority. Friends ask if we will still be hosting Thanksgiving. Of course, I say, nothing has changed. My husband has always cooked the turkey, so what will be different? Except that the turkey will cook for hours. The house will fill with smoke. I imagine which guests will ignore it and which will pass judgement, this evidence of my failings. Compounded by the shrieking of smoke alarms placed in close proximity to each other. Fear of fire used to keep me awake at night. Now I don’t remember to be afraid. Smoke is no longer indicative of danger in our house, it is a mark by which to measure progress. What is the prognosis for a smoke-free holiday? Is a smoky house conducive to a healing brain? More questions my neurosurgeon can’t answer; Indoor Air Quality As Measure of Post-Concussive Resolution ? As Mark of Mended Fractures?