Enter Co-inhabitant #3
|Co-inhabitants Hanging Out|
A little over a year ago, Beechnut and I returned from several days away and were greeted by our pious cat, Rosie, otherwise known as co-inhabitant #2. She mewed distaste at our absence, then carefully inspected what we had brought home with us. Enter co-inhabitant #3, our first-born son. We’d obediently followed advice, and the day before, Andy had come home from the hospital and presented Rosie with one of the baby’s knitted caps. She turned her nose up at it, barely sniffing it. Her reaction to him in the flesh was much the same. Her reaction to us, though, was loud and clear.
She gazed at us for what seemed like an eternity, then without another mew, sauntered past us, through the threshold of our bedroom door, leapt onto the bed and made herself at home. This may seem insignificant, but this boldness was a clear act of defiance, a bargain.
You see, over the past few years, a dynamic had been established between the inhabitants of the Culver House. Beechnut, the original inhabitant of the slowly transforming bachelor pad opened its doors to a lovely wife (co-inhabitant 1, but sometimes co-inhabitant 2 when I do things like set the alarm for 5 am and then press snooze over and over) and her cat (unless she is being really cute and well behaved and then she is “our cat”). It was a bachelor pad dreams are made of – two garages, endless tools, dartboard and kegarator inside, cardboard boxes for bedside tables, a spool for a coffee table.
While there was some jockeying around, Rosie soon learned that she was the bottom rung when it came to the Culver House and, as such, was not allowed on our bed or even past the threshold of our bedroom door. And she respected that – literally, we could leave the door open and she wouldn’t put a paw past that imaginary line. On this day of our return, however, she sensed a window of opportunity and pounced on it.
|The Early Days|
Okay, okay, I will permit you to bring another creature into the house–FINE, but all of my rules must be immediately lifted. In exchange, I will refrain from peeing in the closet on all of your favorite things or eating your baby. Too frightened of what we may face if we didn’t let her have her way, we let her go, in silent defeat. In an instant, I had been bumped to #3, leaving Baby B at #1, and Rosie at #2, but believing she was #1.
That night, our first official night of being parents without the hospital safety (terrifying), I had my first inclination there might be a LOT of parallels between taking care of a baby and taking care of a needy cat. Yes, I am seriously comparing my son to a cat. We locked Rosie in the front part of the house with food, water, litter, ample room, windows, and everything she could ever want, except humans. She threw herself against the door and meowed over and over and we couldn’t tell the difference between our slighted cat and our newborn crying. Over the next year, the parallels between cat care and little human care began to stack up…..medicine delivery, meowing/crying, the puking and pooping in inappropriate places, the free rides when they are too tired/incapable/ too slow to move themselves, and so on.
For a while, Baby B and Rosie took no interest in each other. Rosie would silently observe my parenting from our bed and judge. She had the look that said, “I was always able to quiet my kittens down, what’s your problem?” perfected. “And, no, the answer is not to bring him to my bed. That’s right, I called it my bed. Mew.”
More than a year later, where are we? B has developed a healthy interest in Rosie, and is practicing the art of the “gentle pet”. Rosie is curious about B, but mostly wary, especially now that he is moving independently. She loves to observe his meal times from the back of the couch. They are certainly beginning to form a relationship. Rosie occasionally lets B linger near her before dashing off. Little does she know that the days before he can catch her are now numbered. They have also learned to work together as a team in activities such as furniture destruction. Rosie tears holes in the furniture while sharpening her claws and B pulls out the stuffing with delight. B no longer wakes us up at night, but as he sleeps soundly, Rosie walks on our faces and tries to burrow under the covers, ensuring we won’t sleep through the night or past 4 am. Yes, my status as #3 is more and more firm.
Where does the leader of the Culver House fit into all of this? Clearly, the co-inhabitants run the roost.