One morning, right at the beginning of the summer, the Littlest Who came home from a sleepover with big news.
“Mom! I got to play with a tiny kitten, and give it a bottle, and it was so cute, and guess what? We can keep it! For FREE!”
“That’s nice,” I said, “but we have a cat and a dog already. We’re good on pets for now.”
“PLEASE. His name is Gingersnap, and we can have him on August 7.”
“No way.” I was smiling, but firm. The idea of bringing another animal into the house was one that had to be pinched in the bud. I knew it was disappointing for him, but there was no point in giving false hope. It just wasn’t going to happen.
Besides, he’d forget all about by the end of the day.
The Littlest Who is the most buoyant soul I’ve ever known, so it was hard to see his spirits deflate so suddenly. He bent his neck and shoulders perpendicular to the ground, Charlie Brown style, and shuffled dejectedly into the house, where he went to his bedroom and shut the door.
Give him an hour, I thought, he’ll be fine.
By suppertime, he was still in bed, moping. Okay, so it might take the rest of the weekend for the new kitten smell to wear off. I was touched that he was taking it so hard, but no less resolute. And Patrick was emphatically on my side.
Later that night, I found a note on my computer.
first of all the kitten is free
I could take care of it
I would feed it
I would protect it
I love it so so so
its 12 weeks old
and its realy nice
I showed it to Patrick. ” We’re doomed,” he said.
But I wasn’t ready to accept defeat. “Give it a week,” I said. “He’ll forget about it.”
“Can I get a kitten?” was the first thing the Littlest Who said to me in the morning.
“Can I get a kitten?” he asked again that night.
A few days later, I got a call from the mom who had hosted the sleepover.
“I’m so sorry,” she said, explaining that she thought it would be harmless fun for the kids to visit the litter of orphaned kittens her friend was fostering.
“It’s okay,” I told her. “But I’m going to need you to sign some papers before he sleeps over ever again.”
She then described for me how the Littlest Who had gotten to give the kitten a bottle (it was actually four weeks old), then a bath, and then lay down with it and sung it lullabies until it went to sleep.
“I just feel like I have to tell you, I’ve never seen any boy be so nurturing with an animal like that. It was like they had a bond.”
I repeated the story to Patrick. “LIKE THEY HAD A BOND.”
“Wait another month.”
“Can I get a kitten?” came a voice from around the corner.
But my resolve was weakening. They had a bond. “We’ll talk about it later.”
“Can I get a kitten?” he asked the next morning.
And every day, and every night, for eight weeks.
Until August 7th.
When Gingersnap came home.
Where he obviously belongs.