Monthly Archives: February 2014

The empty rooms

Tonight we find ourselves sans offspring – the two little guys both having been packed with overnight bags and bears and blankies and slippers and hearded off to Granny’s house to spend the night.

I think I could probably count on one hand, not using all the fingers either, the number of times our boys have slept away from home. But this week was an especially tiresome one for us, for all manner of reasons, and I think having the evening and tomorrow morning to ourselves is going to be blissful.

That said, the children’s rooms are empty. The lights are off, the beds are unslept. There are no diminutive snores emanating from within. It is, oddly, too quiet. This is a rich statement, I’ll admit, from a Dad who can often be overheard shouting ‘Quiet you two…’ but it is what it is.

The very last thing I do each night before I plop into bed and go to sleep is check in on the boys to see that they haven’t got a foot caught in the bars of the cot or a head hanging off the end of the bed. Then as I make my way out of each of the rooms in turn I whisper ‘night night boy, love you’ and wonder briefly if the words somehow make their way into the little dreams. Tonight I’ll have to skip that ritual, I mean I could carry on as per normal, but that might draw strange looks from the crowd.

It would seem then that quiet time is not really what it used to be. Instead if you really want to appreciate the sounds of silence, once you become a parent that is, the silence has to at the very least include little snores.

Night night boys, love you.

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The no, I not sleeping

This evening the little guy got home from an outing to the beach a little after his bedtime. There were tears throughout the bathing process and eventually he settled on the couch with his bottle and Grandad staring glassy-eyed at the television screen. When it came time to take him to bed he erupted into a flurry of complaint and tears and had to be carried off under my arm and very much against his will.

He then flatly refused to go into his cot and each attempt to make that happen resulted in hysterical shouts akin to the kind of thing you hear when a newly manicured nail that has been growing steadily alongside the other nine for weeks and weeks, accidentally breaks. So we lay on the double bed in his room together while I asked him if he wanted to try go to sleep. This resulted in a resounding ‘No, I not sleeping’ and after a while he calmed down realizing that he didn’t actually have to go to sleep just yet because I’m a big softie and really can’t be stern enough with him when he’s being cute. I’m wrapped around his little finger like a piece of decorative jewelry.

At this point he started demanding some form of entertainment from me. I guess this was because I picked him off the couch like an unripe apple while he was watching television and now I had to provide replacement amusement given that we had already agreed he wasn’t going to sleep just yet.

So I began to sing nursery rhymes and encouraged him to join in. He didn’t. Instead he left me to sing the rhymes solo and a-cappella and sounding very much like a forty year old out of tune tuba being played by a midget circus clown unable to get his arms around the instrument properly. So to engage him a little in the process I started sullying the well known rhymes by throwing cartoon characters into the mix as I sang. The chief offender here by a country mile being PoohBear. He kept popping up in ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’, ‘Incy Wincy Spider’ and the like (I was quite creative really as to where he would show up, sometimes as a noun, sometimes as a verb). As soon as PhooBear or one of his friends appeared I would get a hand held up like I had just been caught in a speed trap by a traffic official, then I would be chided with a very solemn sounding ‘No Daddy the PhooBear’.

To his credit though, he never got upset with me, he was much more patient than I would have been had our roles been reversed and he simply kept reminding me that PhooBear was out of place in the rhymes I was singing. When I asked why he didn’t just sing them with me because I really couldn’t remember all the words properly and needed his help (a little white lie) he said he was helping me. Apparently being corrected like my homework was being marked by a teacher was help enough.

I have to say, I really can’t get enough of the little guy and his take on the world. It’s so endearingly refreshing, completely honest and singularly uncomplicated.

Tonight you were a shining example of what a teacher should be my little boy. Love you.


The story vs bottle

So recently we’ve started including our youngest boy in story time with the eldest. To date he’s been excluded from this simply because he’s a bit of a piggy with his bottle. Allow me to explain.

From the instant he see’s the bottle on his room, this is the one bottle of the day that he’s been weaned down to, he begins a performance that is not unlike a snowball rolling down a mountainside. It starts off as a reasonable and perfectly calm little request for ‘bottle’, which equates to a small tennis ball sized snowball that has been nudged off the top of a near vertical ski-slope.

Then almost immediately the polite request becomes and incessant bleat. So the snowball has at this point quadrupled in size in a matter of a few seconds and is now picking up speed. If you continue to ignore the situation or indeed if you are unable to comply because you happen to be changing his nappy or putting pajamas on him or are taking care of any other admin around bedtime, he will escalate yet again to loud and quite unintelligible demands mixed with crying (without tears). This is now a pretty significant snowball and you could be forgiven for mistaking it for a really chubby snowman base barreling down the slope at you, just without the other two bits that make a snowman recognizable as a snowman.

Wait a soft egg timer longer and you’ll cue the actual tears and snot. The snowball is effectively at terminal velocity and you are now either required to produce the bottle or have the snowball run right over you and explode into the air all around you. If you get there, not even the bottle will help really, he’ll be too upset to drink it. So effectively a fail then as a parent.

But I digress.

The trick is to do story time in big brother’s room without a bottle in sight and it is really very pleasant this way. Tonight we did Zog by Julia Donaldson and it went over very well I think. There was still quite a bit of shouting from the little guy, something about ‘mine’, which I didn’t understand fully but took to mean that he was enjoying the story. When the story ended I slapped the book closed as if it were a super-sized and leather bound encyclopedia volume of a few thousand pages and announced loudly that it was bedtime and that a bottle was waiting in the cot, having been prepared in secret and delivered to the cot via google drones (ok so not really via drones).

Anyway, this news was greeted with an enthusiastically delivered ‘Yay!’ and less than a minute later he was in his little wooden cot, the light was off and he was a full neck down into his bottle on his way to dreamland. That, is how it is done!

On a good day that is.


The tiger woods

Golf lessons once a week form part of our eldest boys extra mural activities. I think the idea behind it was that he needed to learn some ball skills and really this is one of the lowest impact sports you can play. By that I mean you don’t see old golfers with cauliflower ears (rugby), false teeth (rugby, hockey), broken fingers (rugby, hockey, cricket) or diminished manhood due to diving for penalties (soccer/football). No, golf is definitely not the sort of game where you encounter these sorts of injuries to your person or persona.

Quite the opposite really. Golf is not a team sport (that is of course excluding team cup events like the Ruder Cup where the scores for your team are combined in a fashion). It is an entirely civilized game where there is no call for tackling or spitting or jumping (unless by jumping you refer to jumping over a small puddle or out of or indeed into a sand bunker). It is one of the fairest games out there that tries to level the playing field with the
handicap system. It is a young and an old mans game; in point of fact as a professional golfer, when your age begins to have an negative effect on your game, they simply move you into a different category of players called seniors and from there you simply start competing again against other professional golfers of your age. Finally, aside from the odd swear word that is uttered around the course when easy shots are botched, it is a very civilized game indeed, where there is organized clapping while fans watch you play a truly great shot. The professional golfer just seems to have an air about him/her that projects a regal sort of calm as if they are above anything petty. I very much like the idea of all of that.

Still, there are some areas for concern. One could argue that stratospheric success in this sport could bring out the worst of ones character. Tiger Woods was so used to winning and handing in perfect scorecards (that’s correct, in this sport they work on the honour system where you mark your own work honestly even if no-one is watching) that he became somewhat numb to the success and fame and riches (yes riches). Ultimately this spilled over a little into his personal life and he ended up making some very poor choices which eventually resulted in facial lacerations caused by a car accident that was in turn caused by an angry wife with a golf club. So not completely immune then to blood and pain.

And therein lies (virtually) the only rub. There is a club involved in this sport. Many clubs actually. Mostly made of steel and alloys and composite fibers and the like but all equally capable of knocking someone’s consciousness into next week if they are used against a head. Up to this point, my boy has been using a small plastic set of two clubs (a putter and a wedge of sorts). These clubs have been used, on more than one occasion, to dish out swift justice to younger brothers for perceived transgressions just for the hell of it (and visa versa). I shudder to think what will occur if and when these plastic clubs are ever traded for a set of metal ones. There will most certainly be broken bones and bruises, and tears.

I guess we’re talking about supervised play with the metal clubs until such time as the urge to take swipes at our younger brothers passes. I’m fairly confident we’ll have to say a phrase a little like the following at some point during the golfing experience, “No! Don’t hit your brother with that club!”

That said, even a battered brother would be willing to concede that a few bruises along the way to golf super stardom might be worth it in the end. Hang in there little brother. Finally, as long as there isn’t an extended period of time spent navigating the Tiger Woods of personal injury and disgrace, I am all for the sport.


The leverage

Archimedes of Syracuse said (and I’m paraphrasing a little here); give me a place to stand and I will move the earth.

He was talking about the concept of physical leverage but I think the principle applies metaphorically as well. If you are in a good position, you can apply the correct amount of leverage to get just about anything done.

So too with a child. In point of fact, most interactions with children are based on leverage. Think about that for a moment. Imagine having to negotiate everything you need to do with a child from bathing, feeding, dressing, playing, getting up, going to sleep and everything else in between. If you didn’t have leverage in all of those interactions, every day would be a long stretch of your patience indeed. Much like a bunch of balloons being overinflated while sitting inside of a thorn tree.

So, in all of your interactions then, you need to do one thing in preparation and that is to find a place to stand. For instance, if you need to get your child to go to sleep, you find something on the other side of a sleep that they have a vested interest in and then make it a condition of the sleep. An example of this would be, “You will not go to school tomorrow if you don’t go to sleep now.” It’s really quite a popular tactic for us on weeknights where we sometimes have issues getting our four year old to go to sleep, though I suspect that when he gets a little older we’ll be hard pressed to squeeze a good result out of using that as leverage.

I must add that we don’t habitually apply leverage where none is required, sometimes simply asking for something to be done yields a positive result. However that doesn’t mean much more than we just happened to be standing in the right place when the negotiation started – much like stumbling around a playground blindfolded and coincidentally straddling a seesaw before it rises up to meet the seat of your pants when someone gets on the other side. You can’t really claim any skill involved there, just luck.

In the months leading up to Christmas one can stand in the Arctic Circle and cancel Christmas by over feeding the reindeer or cutting a hole in Santa’s present bag if your children don’t behave impeccably at all times. That’s good behavior (pretty much) sorted out from the beginning of November all the way up to and including Christmas morning. Indeed you can expect better and better behaviour as the advent calendars do their steady march ever closer to the big day (especially if you use chocolate).

Beyond that you need to revert back to short term leverage until the curtain-raiser weeks prior to Easter when you can actually drop a man-hole cover over the Easter Bunny’s doorway and prevent Easter from happening if listening and behavior over that period don’t warrant a visit from the chocolate bearing rodent.

If you have the energy for it you can even plan a play date at the beginning of each week for the upcoming weekend and use that as leverage for the days leading up to the event. Obviously you’d want to make the play date as appealing as possible, be careful not to undersell it or you won’t have enough leverage over the child to get it to stop picking its nose let alone extract the very best behavior possible for a given week. An example of underselling would be promising the child a hearty breakfast on Saturday morning if they behave all week. Not a classic enticement really.

Ultimately, there will be some slippage in that you will have to concede your position from time to time. For example, if Christmas Day arrives and there really hasn’t been such good behaviour in the weeks leading up to the big day, do you literally cancel the arrival of the jolly old elf or do you let it slide with warning letter from saint Nick stapled to the half-eaten reindeer carrot? I’m inclined to say that Christmas goes ahead but you have a direction talk on the day with the child to explain what a near miss it all was. In point of fact you could probably get an online clip of Santa reading the riot act if you were so inclined.

Fortunately I haven’t had to go to those extremes quite yet. Instead I’ve leveraged precious blankies and teddy bears and other special toys into the boot of my car to spend the night there while my children “think about what they’ve done” and I’ve cancelled television for days at a time when required though I must say that practice feels less like a punishment for children and more like shooting oneself in the foot.

Remember that there can’t be any resting on laurels, it’s all very fluid. Children change daily and we as parents must change with them or fall behind and end up holding too short a stick to move anything significant or indeed simply end up standing in the wrong place unable to leverage a pea to be eaten at supper time much less anything else.


The old mans game

Yesterday I played a game that I never thought I’d have the occasion or the inclination to play. It was a game of Boules or, as the variation I played is sometimes known, P├ętanque and not to put too fine a point on it, it is an old mans game.

There, said it.

In fact I think it would take nothing less than an act of banning all old men everywhere from playing this game and then having the ‘Biebs’ becoming a spokesperson and champion for the game to change its status in the world from marbles for ‘old guys’ to the sport of the cool. I expect this will happen about five minutes after all of the Jehovah’s Witnesses abandon the practice of proselytizing on weekends, burn all copies of The Watchtower, and retreat into their Kingdom Halls to lead secular lives of introspection and never interrupt anyone’s morning or afternoon sleep again.

Yes, said that too.

Boules (boule is the French word for ball) is a game of oddities. For instance, the pitch or court can really be any open area but in a more organized world you’ll play on a loose gravel pitch. So uneven terrain with stones or obstructions and the like are all part of the play. In contrast to this is the very James Bond looking metal case lined with cloth-covered depressions that house the Boules snugly. The Boules themselves are metal spheres weighing around 800 grams each and they are arranged in pairs that have matching markings on them. Each player (or team) will play with a pair of them. From a distance though they all look the same and I think that is intentional because it makes the game seem more mysterious than it actually is.

The object is the game I took part in was to get one or both of your Boules closer to the Jack than everyone else’s Boules. The Jack is a small sphere of about 30mm in diameter and is made of wood or sometimes a synthetic material. It is thrown first, once for each game. During play, you hold the Boule in your hand, palm facing down. You then raise your arm upwards and outwards in front of you in a swift fluid motion to the desired release position and let the Boule fly.

Actually the process looks a little like a mimicry of a fascist salute if you want the truth of it, but I’m not here to judge. Suffice to say it is quite an odd way to throw a ball.

Moving on; with each throw you can either ‘set’ the Boule by lofting it high and having it plop down into position close to the Jack or you can ‘point’ the Boule by releasing it lower and have it run along the ground, potentially knocking your opponents Boules out of the way. Exactly like a game of marbles. In the end, if your Boule is closest to the Jack once all the Boules have been thrown, you win that game.

A brand new set of these metal balls looks and feels quite futuristic or indeed even like something shot out of a modern day cannon. In fact, one almost gets the sense that you should be rolling them around on a velvet covered table inside of a secret club for old men while speaking in hushed tones and drinking expensive whiskey instead of hurling them onto a gravel covered playing field. Actually the very act of playing the game scuffs the spheres to the point where they resemble less a highly polished Rembrant and more an untidy scratched Picasso.

Moreover, our children were watching us play this game, lined up along the side of the course and I had a moment during play where it dawned on me that my sons from that moment onward, were forever going to think of the game as an old mans game because they watched me play it. Amidst all the lip biting and swears of frustration and wild swinging and waving of arms and high fives and fist pumping, we had managed to perpetuate a stereotype. There, right before our eyes, a new generation was being indoctrinated.

But there’s nothing really to be done about it, except perhaps that in order to make this a young mans game, we need to teach our children to play it and immediately ban everyone else from playing it, then we wait a generation.


The melting wax

Tonight we went out for an impromptu dinner with the boys grandparents and Aunty ‘V’. It was pizza night again and on these outings it has become somewhat of a tradition to arrive at the restaurant and immediately begin work on a wax crayon masterpiece. Art supplies are provided by the establishment and using the pot luck box of crayons the boys fall upon on the fresh clean brown paper tablecloth slash canvas.

The artwork lasts for as long as the meal does and then we photograph it for later review and critique.

If I’m honest, there’s always a little overrun onto the white table cloth underneath the paper, but that’s just the way the delightful mix of children and paper and crayons and youthful exuberance goes. My advise to the establishment is bigger pieces of brown paper.

Ummm, perhaps a couple of extra layers of the paper wouldn’t go amiss either. Children press really hard with crayons (so does Dad). Moving on.

The theme for this evening was emergency services (no surprises there at all since it’s always emergency services). So there were police and fire stations and helicopters and fire engines and buildings bursting into green flames, followed a little later by traditional orange and yellow flames that engulfed half of the little town that we had laid out. There was a helipad, a couple of houses, a few apartment buildings and a tree. I’m sure we could have done a better job with the fire engines (which were orange) but we were a little handicapped by the choice of colours to start with.

Four pristine greens, one blunt black, three brown – one of which was chewed, a sharp blue, a fairly redundant purple and later, after much badgering of the waiter, a thumb-sized orange and a smidgen of yellow. Not exactly an abundant choice of colours but good enough for our purposes.

The way it all works is this; I get told what to draw, but I have some artistic license with regards the colours I am allowed to use. The boys know not to push the colour boundary too far or the entire collaboration collapses with the immediate withdrawal of Dad from the process.

The first half see’s us lay out the town, roads and services and then we set fire to things, by we of course I mean the boys who scribble orange and yellow over buildings with all the vigor of paid arsonists. This is the fun part, no need to stay in between the lines, no need to worry about form or physics, it is simply understood that the fire is a fluid living thing and can be applied any which way you like. Except to the tablecloth of course.

Sometimes there is a call, mid London burning, to use green or purple or blue for fire and when that gets my veto, there are usually a few tears. Sometimes there is an overlap of interests where one town planner wants a road and another wants a building and then predictably there are tears too. Sometimes there are just tears.

We pause for a nose blow, tear wipe and some sympathy and then the second half of the study in wax commences with the focus on putting the fires out. There are only two rules here and they are; water is blue and it must come from a hose attached to a fire engine, helicopter or hydrant. Tick, tick and tick. Off you go with the water.

At the end we took a snapshot of the final product and this then is the result of our efforts. Brilliant


The birds

There are two types of people in the world; the early birds and the night owls.

Early birds leap out of bed in the morning full of smiles and energy seemingly having been launched off the mattress by a happy explosion of some sort. They operate at that level all day long and then they usually switch off the light and crash into bed immediately after supper, falling asleep before the residual light in the room fades. In short, no personality immediately after sunset.

Night owls on the other hand are still awake long after the moon has risen into the night sky and can maintain good spirits throughout the night and well into the early hours of the morning. However they are much less likely to be good company immediately after they wake up, only warming up to operating temperature from about midday onwards. In short, no personality immediately after sunrise.

This got me thinking about the way schooling is structured. You can, for instance, send your child to a pre-school which is attached to the primary school that it feeds. This has a major and measurable benefit in that this is the place is where you will drop off your child for school every morning for a total of nine consecutive years (that’s two preschool years followed by seven primary school years). That means that you don’t have to change your morning routine at all for the next nine years. I’m sure I don’t have to point out the obvious here, but I will anyway, this is a huge plus for night owls because, let’s face it, mornings are not the best time of day for night owls and the less change they have to endure in their routines in the morning, the better.

In point of grumpy fact, the majority of the human race are not early birds. It’s only the sunshine yellow personality people on the planet that are really happy in the morning, the rest of us just pretend to be happy because we don’t want to appear to be flawed in any way or indeed judged by the early birds. However I think that the world has it backwards because to my mind, the night owls, are the normal ones and as such shouldn’t have to feel like they have something to be ashamed of by being less than chipper before midday.

It’s the shiny, bouncy, smiley, perky, slept like a baby, handy-clappy and rah-rah-rah shouty morning people that are the weird ones and I think we should round them all up, administer a medical procedure of some kind to cure them of their ailment and then release them back into the population to blend in with the rest of us morning curmudgeons. Over time I think we’ll be able to cure the planet, we just have to get them all and be ever vigilant not to let their numbers get out of hand or we’ll all soon start feeling like modern day lepers again.

Now, these early birds account for about a quarter of the human race so it seems like a daunting task but I believe we can do it. I admit too that it all sounds a little sinister and grim to engage in what appears to be discrimination against and herding of these people but it’s really not a discriminatory stance. Don’t think of it in negative terms. Rather try to think of it as a cure for an illness that plagues a quarter of the people on the planet. There’s no vaccine possible because people are either born with this affliction or they are not, so we can’t eradicate it entirely, but a cure is just as good if you identify and treat the sick promptly, that is to say, as soon as they start displaying the tell-tale signs of early birds.

Doesn’t it sound like a worthwhile cause to get involved in? I mean curing so many people of an affliction that not only affects the sufferer’s, but also affects the balance of humanity indirectly, truly has to be one of the greatest undertakings we can embark on as a species. I for one would love to see this cause taken up by the medical community and addressed in our lifetime (just not in the morning obviously).

My boys are not shaping up to be early birds, in point of fact they are decidedly on the other end of the scale. They can keep going well after their respective bed times have passed if they’re given even half a chance to do so but then they’ll be the exact opposite of enthusiastically joyous to get out of bed the next morning.

I can completely understand that though. Hi, my name is Dad and I’m a night owl.


The karate kid

So we’ve started our eldest boy at karate lessons. He’s four now and it seems like a good move. We’re hoping it will teach him structure, help him concentrate and be a good outlet for his virtually limitless energy. He also looks every bit the part in his little Gi uniform which all at once makes him seem younger and older to me than his actual years. A very strange dichotomy of realities indeed.

Tonight when I asked him to demonstrate a few of the moves he’d learned so far, he plopped down and got into a push-up position whereupon he then delivered something loosely approximating a push-up. Four of them to be exact. Next he did a couple of leg-raises where he then also attempted to touch his toes and ended up rolling into his side. It was a very gallant effort indeed and certainly more than I am capable of at this stage of my life.

Finally he stood up and braced himself in a defensive position that was immediately recognizable as a karate pose and delivered a few punches and a series of oddly ostrich looking backward kicks. All of it completely random, bizarre, charming and despite karate being a physical sport involving violent themes, also completely innocuous.

For my part it seems like the perfect activity to start as young as possible. I mean the younger one starts, the less chance there is that you’ll remember all the grunt work you had to put in to get to a proficient level. Think about it, you go for all the lessons and you gain skills but have no real long term memories of having to learn the skills in the first place. One day your memories become more tacky in your head and you suddenly find you’re a karate prodigy capable of scratching someone in the ear with a foot from a car-length away. A very handy skill indeed.

Adults don’t have the luxury of being able to learn something new in the same way as children do. We have to actually go through all the motions and practice endlessly to get anywhere. Then we’re literally scarred with our own memories; hours, days, weeks, months and years of them that have buried themselves tick-like into our sub conscious.

Much more fun I think to simply not remember the training but still be able to walk the tightrope.


The poor cat

Our house is not what you would describe as inundated with pets. Even though we’re a house of two small boys where you might expect all manner of creatures to be living, we (more to the point I) have managed to keep the number of pets in this house to a static maximum of one.

I refer of course to the poor black and white cat that abides here called Cleo. I say poor cat because her life has unfortunately become one centered solely around the act of avoiding capture by our toddler. She was here long before our boys arrived and was very much a house cat during those early honeymoon years. She would sleep indoors, on the foot of the bed no less and if she was feeling overly affectionate on a given day, would sometimes sleep between my wife and I, rumbling grudgingly with deep purrs of bliss in spite of her grumpy little self. She was never an especially affectionate animal to start with, my hands paid homage to that sad fact as every day I wore scars inflicted by teeth and claws. For the most part, these scars were earned simply because I tickled or scratched an ear for one second more than the time limit allowed for by the schizophrenic, furry, aggressive little thing. To add to that, the time limits would change daily so there was really no getting around the nicks and scrapes if I wanted to show her any affection. Then our first boy arrived and everything began to change.

Cleo was only marginally disrupted at first with the most significant change being that she was no longer the centre of attention in our house. In those early months before our baby boy became mobile she still maintained a relatively normal existence in the household, albeit a less prominent one. Then as inexorably as a glacier forcing its way through a valley, our little boy started to move around and Cleo’s life of relative peace became a thing of the past.

Our eldest would roll over onto his belly, at great physical expense and in painstakingly slow motion and then do a snake-like wiggle to get from point a to point b. It would take time but eventually he’d reach his goal, Cleo, and then she’d have to move or be subjected to a rough and tumble period of play involving little handfuls of kitty tail and some biting of scruff of neck. Over time ‘the snake’ was supplanted by a much more efficient crawl and later still by a, very wobbly and prone to collapse, walk. Still each advancement in mobility would see the time for Cleo to have to get up and move somewhere else shorten until eventually the only safe place for her was on top of, or indeed under, a piece of furniture and failing that, somewhere outside. For all intents and purposes she became a little bit feral during that time.

To her credit though, I don’t think she ever swiped at him or tried to bite him back. In point of fact, she handled the intrusion of our eldest into her little world with a grace and patience that would suggest a higher level of sentience than what would normally be ascribed to an animal. She simply stepped aside for him. Over time, our eldest and Cleo found a balance with each other and things settled down for her. She would even sleep at the foot of his bed from time to time. She had successfully transformed into the family Kitty.

Then our youngest arrived and the entire matinee started all over again. The little guy has actually cranked it up a notch in that he now uses wheels to catch up with Cleo when she tries to escape, so cat and mouse in a comical road-runner kind of way. Sadly, she has become a little feral again. I really only see her a couple of times a day. I believe though that she and the little guy are close to the peak of their enmity and perhaps we’re about to see our boy’s attention begin to fall elsewhere. When that happens, I hope she moves back in with us and spends her twilight years in peace as the family Kitty again.

Until then, I don’t think we can accommodate another pet of any sort, I’m not sure any other creature will do as well under that kind of pressure.

Then again, maybe a Pug could. Pugs have attitude.