Or more accurately, Madeline trouble.
Madeline has always loved Jasper.
Jasper has always been ambivalent towards Madeline.
Occasionally he’d get all wild-eyed and pounce on her one too many times, forcing us to close him in the laundry room until he chilled out.
In recent weeks, however their relationship has taken a dramatic turn. The hunter has become the hunted.
Last week as I was
laying under a blanket reading the second Harry Potter book dusting, I heard an unfamiliar moaning sound. It belonged to neither of my children – I can say this with confidence as I have long since memorized every sound their little bodies are capable of making.
It made me anxious nonetheless, so I dropped
my book the duster and followed the sound with haste.
I discovered Madeline – all four limbs wrapped around the cat in a death-lock, nuzzling him aggressively with her chin and saying, “Awwww, Jaspeerrrrrrr,” whilst Jasper let out a long, tortured moan. Unable to move his head, he shifted his yellow eyes around, searching for rescue. When he saw me he let out a quick, urgent meow that went up at the end, as if he were asking a question.
“Madeline! Let Jasper go. When he makes that sound he’s asking to be let go.”
She did, but followed him around the house all day screeching, “Here kitty, kitty, kitty. Heeeeerreee Jasper!” And poking him.
Jasper cowered under the couch for the rest of the afternoon.
Little did I know that this was but a foreshadow of the unimaginable madness to follow.
The next morning I walked into the living room to find two legs and a butt sticking out from underneath the couch.
“Madeline, what are you doing?”
“I’m feeding Jasper.”
Cue sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.
Jasper was hiding under the couch. Madeline had retrieved his bowl from the laundry room, tracked down the cat, wriggled her whole body under there, bowl in hand, and emptied it onto the carpet/into the vent. (If I told you that I got under there with the vacuum hose I would be lying. Jasper snacked on it for 2 days.)
Here Madeline got a speech. “Until I can trust you to make good choices, you have to leave the cat – and all of his things - alone.”
Yes, ma’am, she said.
She did alright for a four-year old, especially considering that the thing she wasn’t supposed to be touching is really soft and kept wandering past her, wearing down her resolve. I only had to rescue a moaning Jasper from Madeline’s affection about 8 times that afternoon.
But then evening rolled around…
I was sitting on the couch feeding Sam and I had not heard from Madeline in several minutes. **Danger, Will Robinson** As soon as Sam finished his bottle I set out to find her. She was not in her room, not in the bathroom, not in the play area. Uh oh. Not in the kitchen, living room or dining room. So, already frustrated, I marched to laundry room – where we keep all things “cat.”
And there was my child.
Filling up the cat bowl with food and…what is that? Oh, USED LITTER. Jasper’s dish was overflowing with food and clumps of ammonia-soaked cat pee and large cat turds, layered like a big, disgusting trifle.
It is an understatement to say that I lost it.
I try not to yell at my kids, but I yelled. I yelled loud. And a lot. I yelled at her about germs and disease, and how if she so much as brushed me or my carpet or my walls with those hands on the way to the bathroom I would give her the spanking heard around the world. I plopped her in a deep bath with lots of soap (because we were fresh out of lye), and stepped into the hallway, flabbergasted.
I leaned with my back against the wall and took a few deep breaths. I was so preoccupied with the mess that I did not see the cat wander into the bathroom.
Minutes later I heard:
Splash! EeeeeEEEEee! Rawwwweeeuuuurrrr! Hissssss! <indiscriminate splashing and clawing sounds> And my daughter: “It’s okaaaayyyy Jaspeeeerrr.”
I looked down to see the cat wander out of the bathroom in a daze. Fur matted down, shaking water from his paws, shivering and dragging his sopping tail behind him, leaving a thin trail of water from the tub all the way to his hiding place under the couch, where I presume he had himself a little snack.
“MADELINE! HOPE! CONNER! WHAT DID YOU JUST DO?”
“*Ahem,* Madeline. Did you pull Jasper into the bathtub?”
“Well, he put his paws up here to look over the edge, so I grabbed them and pulled him in. He wanted to come.”
“Let me get this straight, young lady. You grabbed him by his front paws and pulled him by his thumbs over the edge of the tub and into your bath? After Mommy told you three times to leave. him. alone.”
On an unrelated note, my eye is twitching again.