This morning, I threatened to kill someone.
Three someones, actually, and every one of them feline.
Charlie was the first. He started up before 6:00, which is never a good time to be bothering me. “Woe? WOE?” Up and down the hallway, crying. “WOE! BOWEL! HELLO?!” (Charlie has a large vocabulary for a cat, it’s kind of freaky).
Next came Harriet, climbing on me and purring. She was already on The List; as I was trying to fall asleep last night she kept creeping up to my pillow and trying to scoot under the covers, and then climbing on me and purring.
Climbing and purring (and cuddling, and kneading, and then purring so hard she chokes on it) is a big thing for Harriet.
I wish I could say that I figured out a way to make her understand that 6-ish in the morning is not Happy Happy Cuddle Time, but I didn’t. I gave in and scratched her head until she fell asleep. Don’t judge me.
Of course, this meant it was Lucy’s turn. What she lacks in vocabulary she makes up in persistence and volume*. “Mew? Mew! MEEEW! MEEEEE, YOOOOOUUUUUU!!!” and then a “WOO!” or two for good measure.
Then there was the tiny incident of Charlie and Harriet staging a boxing match right outside of the bedroom where the kids sleep.
A reasonable person would have got out of bed. I’m not a reasonable person. I knew they had plenty of food, their fountain was working and full, the litter boxes were reasonably clean. Lucy probably wanted out, Harriet’s just a love machine, and Charlie is a raving lunatic. I wasn’t going to give in to their demands. Not before 7:00. Instead, I shout-whispered death threats at all of them and put my ear plugs back in.
So then I got up, because it’s Friday, Simon still has school, and it takes at least half an hour to get his butt out of bed. The cats followed me into the boys’ room. Charlie jumped up on Ike’s bed and demanded affection from another sleepy human, Harriet jumped on Simon’s butt and started purring at HIM, and Lucy… I don’t know where she went, she’s a little ninja.
All this time, Jack was sleeping in the computer room, because he thinks that’s his bedroom now. He came out, yawning and stretching and farting. And then prancing, because he’s a Boxer, and that’s just what they do. He pranced and frolicked and skittered across the laminate floors and to the back door. I let him out, turned around…
…and saw that the door to the basement was closed.
That never happens. We keep plastic bags stored there so the door can’t close, but closed it was. The cats couldn’t get to their full food dishes or their reasonably-clean litter boxes. The fountain’s in the kitchen, so they had water, but still. They had reasons for the protest they were staging all morning. I just hadn’t understood them.
I felt, quite frankly, like an asshole.
I also realized that I run into situations like this with people almost every day. The cranky kid who whines and forgets to say please and thank you. The five year-old pitching a fit over something as small as losing one of his dinky cars. The cashier at the gas station who all but ignores me, the guy who cuts me off in traffic, the friend who doesn’t seem to put as much into the relationship as I do, the mom who lets her kid take a toy from mine at the park while she’s texting away on her phone and not paying attention.
Yes, they’re all annoying. Sometimes people are just jerks. But maybe their basement doors are closed, and I haven’t bothered to get up and look. In a lot of those cases, I’ll never know. I can ask my son whether something at school is bothering him, or I can try putting him to bed earlier to see if that helps him cope, but I don’t know what that cashier had to overcome to drag her ass to work this morning. I don’t know where that driver is going (he should still be careful no matter what, but that’s not the point), the friend might be struggling with depression and not showing it, and that mom isn’t necessarily texting her best friend to rehash last night’s episode of The Bachelor.
It’s funny that I was thinking about this stuff this morning. Jae at Lit & Scribbles posted one of my recent favourite videos today, and it fits perfectly here (and has a larger message to share). I can’t remember if I’ve shared it here or only on Facebook, but it bears repeating anyway.
We choose how we see the world, we choose whether we judge people harshly or give them the benefit of the doubt. We can remember that their basement doors might be closed, but they either can’t or don’t want to tell us. We can chuck a stuffed dragon in their general direction to make them shut up, or we can get out of bed to see if something’s really wrong. That last one may just be me, but you get my point.
When you’re having a down, sullen, or cranky day, you probably know why. You have reasons and excuses, and you might even expect to be given some leeway for that. Maybe other people do, too.
I know of at least three people who will, if they read this, go “BULLSH*T, people are assholes. Except for me, I’m the only non-asshole.” That’s your choice. I can’t always muster the energy required to choose my attitude, but today I’m going to try.
Just something to think about, courtesy of my cats.
*She does say “hello” sometimes, but that’s a story that involves the ghost of a cat who died a few years ago. Another day, perhaps.