This morning, like most mornings, I woke up. I looked at my phone, turned off my alarm, answered some texts from a friend about how he likes to cook cabbage and brussels sprouts, and rolled over–into something.
Oh no, I thought. When you have pets, rolling over into mystery substances or objects is usually not a good thing. I tentatively felt around, and was relieved to discover that the mystery substance or object was nothing gooshy.
“It’s cat food,” I said aloud. There was a very small pile of dry cat food under my sheets.
Puzzled, I looked around.
It took at least until I was a few steps closer to the coffee pot to realize that the cats, Hazel and Mr. Darcy, likely had nothing to do with the cat food in my bed.
Once I figured that out, I could picture several different ways that this food had gotten into my bed. I could safely name several suspects too. This makes me laugh.
Every now and then I encounter this truth: My children are entirely separate human beings from me, with separate stories. Sometimes they are crafty, devious little people. Other times, they are sweetly clueless, or heartwarmingly generous. In my self-centered way, I mostly notice their stories as part of my own and weave them into my narrative. But that changes when I encounter these little clues as to who they are, what they are interested in, and what they have been doing in those moments when I left them alone.
I remember that my pets were a tremendously large part of my life when I was a child–I lived in an isolated place and was far younger than anyone else in the family. I can make up little stories about what happened based on that, my own experience and what I would have been doing with a little fistful of cat food.
Our older cat, Hazel, is frightened of small children, and really only kind of trusts Selah at this point. I can imagine little scenarios in which someone was trying to gain her trust, not fully understanding that the little elderly kitty really just wants to sleep and be left alone when she’s in my bed.
Two year olds are starting to put it all together, making connections like that the cats go with the tasty little pellets in dishes around the house. I can put together a picture of him going, “Ah ha! I will bring these tasty little pellets to the kitty!” He calls both cats either “Miss Darcy” or “your cat.”
I am so intrigued by these little glimpses into their psyches. I long to know more of their stories. When I ask them questions, I am usually either met with forgetfulness or embarrassment, however, and must remember Aslan’s admonition in The Horse and His Boy that we really only get to know our own stories. Being a person of story, I sort of hate that, but being a person of reason, I find it a bit of a relief too. I am not sure I would handle anyone else’s full story well.
I think I will put this bit of cat food back into the bowl.
I wrote more about gaining insight into Selah’s world in The Things She Carried, when trying to clean her room filled me with the same sense of awe and wonder.
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I love this.