Who says cats don't pay for themselves? This Christmas, I got several gifts from Arthur and Beowulf. On Christmas morning, I got two books, "Cat Training in 10 Minutes a Day" and "Caring for Your Cat: 101 Essential Tips." These books were addressed to me from Arthur and Beowulf, though I get a feeling that my fiancee Liz bought it and put their names on it. If the boys had opposable thumbs, this deception would be more beliveable.
-- Warning: Sappy Stuff Alert --
That said, I found this Christmas that I had gotten a gift much greater than any I could have unwrapped. The boys have brought me I feeling I thought I had lost in childhood. Children have an amazing ability to have fun and be excited about the simplest things: a furry animal, a shiny bow, or the sound of thunder.
I grew up as an only child with a father who disliked both children and animals. I was taught to hate the child in myself. I wanted a cat or a dog, but of course, that wasn't allowed. As a teenager and then a young adult, I felt that childhood was a time of weakness and foolishness. I liked the idea of having a family in theory, but I didn't want to deal with young children.
Whenever I'd see a friend or relative with children in tow, I'd find some excuse to leave the situation. I think that is because being in the presence of children reminded me so much of my own childhood. Just seeing a room filled with childrens' toys made me feel like my own adulthood was being threatened. My fiancee wants to have children someday and I promised her we would, but I was really not enthusiastic about it. I've always liked the idea of having grown adult children I could hang out with, but dealing with wild toddlers always frightened me.
One reason I wanted to adopt cats was to see if I could take care of someone. I think my boys have unleashed a side of me that can be a parent without being a pill. I don't expect them to stop being who they are and suddenly turn into a set of adult humans who want to talk about politics and sports. I value them for who they are: a pair of rambunctious kittens.
When I went to visit Liz's parents for Christmas, her 3 year old niece was at the house. Previous times I'd seen her, I didn't want to talk to her. This time, though, I found a could talk to her. I showed her pictures of my boys and she asked all about them. We talked about her cats too. Finally, I got down on my knees so I was at her level, played "pillow fight" with her (I let her hit me with the pillows), and found I could be as silly as a three year old, without feeling like my parents were going to come and scold me.
I know now that I can be a parent someday and probably a good one too.