Friday, August 18, 2017

Ramblings that became papers... Part Two

Here's another one of my papers for y'all.  This one was a comparison/contrast essay that I put together after going through one of my typical afternoons where I couldn't decide if it was the cats or the kids that was driving me crazier.



          Have you ever seen someone in charge of a group of children become overwhelmed with the situation and throw their hands up in the air as an exasperated, “It’s like herding cats!” escapes their lips? 
          As a person who has raised both children and cats with varying degrees of success (depending on who you ask), I feel I can confidently say that there is definite merit to the above statement.  There is so much in common between the two such as the complete lack of concern over what the desired behavior actually is, the need to turn private time into a spectator sport, and the ability to somehow sound like a herd of elephants despite being a fraction of the required size.  Of course, there are also obvious differences like feeding, bathing, and how to keep them in one place.
          Take the need for good behavior and good manners.  Neither small children nor cats care one iota about how their behavior reflects on the adult in the situation as long as they are enjoying the moment in their own fashion.  For children, this typically manifests as giggle fits and running in erratic circles around the area while the parent frantically tries to corral them in a dignified manner before resorting to tripping someone.  For cats, this often plays out in what should probably be hysterical antics when something that has just been forbidden from the feline is stolen anyway and gets batted around the house for quite some time while a human follows in zigzags, making vain grabs for the item in question and demanding the animal stop the game and return the possession immediately as if actually expecting this to happen.
          Next is the ever-popular Olympic sport waiting to happen “peeing before someone or something forces their way into the bathroom”.  This one is fairly self-explanatory.  There isn’t a parent alive that hasn’t found themselves in the unenviable position of being trapped on that throne with at least one child or cat planted squarely in front of them critiquing the entire process.  If the door somehow gets locked before the invasion occurs, there will be fingers or paws (or in my case, both) stuck under the door repeatedly until the event comes to its conclusion.  Sometimes there is musical accompaniment if the doorstop is found.
          Then there’s the ability of a creature that weighs anywhere between ten pounds and a hundred pounds making adults everywhere suddenly question the structural integrity of their homes just by moving rapidly from one location to another.  If there are stairs involved, there is real danger of home d├ęcor randomly leaping off the walls and shelving.  If there are more than one of said creatures moving in tandem, chances are a local Richter Scale is alarming some poor soul tasked with monitoring geological threats.
          As mentioned earlier, there are some distinct differences between raising children and raising cats.  Meal time is one instance that springs to mind.  Feeding cats is a matter of shaking a food container and getting out of the way of the stampede no matter what is being offered as a meal.  For added entertainment, one may choose to hang around and watch as feline paws snake out and grab dishes belonging to other animals in attempts to garner larger portions.  Feeding children generally involves dragging reluctant bodies away from video games and television shows, shooting down arguments about why this child doesn’t want to eat that vegetable or why that child expects to have another meal prepared that is more to their tastes, followed by refereeing repeated attempts to sneak the healthy parts of entrees onto the other child’s plate while claiming to have finished everything themselves.
          Bathing techniques is another area that differs greatly between children and cats.  When cats are involved, the process is almost guaranteed to start and finish within five minutes.  The occupants of the home are informed that a feline needs a bath and the smart occupants quickly vacate the premises.  The cat is introduced to a couple of inches of water, much splashing and screaming ensues from all parties involved, the cat either escapes or the human restraining the cat decides personal preservation is more important than a clean feline, and bath time is ended.  When children are involved, the process is almost guaranteed to drag out over a few hours.  The occupants of the home are informed that a child needs a bath or shower and the child in question quickly goes into fits of denial.  Eventually the child is introduced to the combination of soap and water, much splashing and offkey singing ensues, the child runs out of soapy water or the house runs out of hot water, and bath time is ended.
          When one has had all they can take of children or cats running rampant throughout the vacinity, confining them to one area differs according to species as well.  There are a couple of techniques that work well for cats, ranging from using catnip as bait to get them into a room with a door that closes to picking them up by the scruff of their necks and dropping them unceremoniously into a sufficiently sized kennel.  Rather than using catnip, I have found that turning on electronics in an isolated location of the home is the method of choice for keeping children in one place for extended periods of time.

          So, as you can see, the phrase “like herding cats” is actually pretty accurate when applied to children.  Just remember, however, that while there are many similarities in how both are raised, society still tends to frown disapprovingly when children are shoved into kennels, no matter how much they may have earned it.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Ramblings that became papers... Part One

Just remember, y'all asked for this.  This particular assignment was to illustrate cause and effect.  We were instructed to choose a subject and describe how it affected something else, offering examples along the way.

Let's be real.  This is me we're talking about.  Give me the tiniest bit of wiggle room and something in my life is going to become fuel to make someone else giggle.  I'm told my instructor was thoroughly amused.

And we're off...


          Children are wonderful, aren’t they?  They’re cute, funny, unpredictable, entertaining, and they can even be used as legal child labor at home, or as gophers when you just don’t feel like getting up to refill your glass during a television show.  However, they’re also to blame for a pandemic running rampant across the nation.  Children are, in my opinion, the reason adults all over the world are completely losing it.  Don’t believe me?  Let me explain.
          Before children came along, I had my future planned out in intricate detail.  I even had a schedule for when I would finish my schooling, when I would start my chosen career, when I would impress my bosses and get the big raise, when I would find Mr. Right and trick him into proposing to me, when we would buy our dream home, when we would hit the lottery and retire in luxury.  You get the idea.
          Now that I have children, there is no such thing as a schedule.  What we have instead is a list of activities that are planned as a family and devolve into frantic races to complete school science projects that are “forgotten about” until the night before they are due.  Our days can be set to the tune of “Flight of the Bumblebee” as alarm clocks go off at thoroughly indecent hours every morning and adults scramble to finish daily tasks before the children appear like miniature hurricanes and announce the need to attend dance classes, sports practices, scouting activities, church youth meetings, play dates, and the occasional school production.  Knowing about such things more than fifteen minutes in advance is apparently forbidden in the “Children’s Handbook of Life”.
          Before children came along, I was the proud owner of a substantial vocabulary that could be counted on to dazzle most of my friends as I articulated my thoughts in complete and precise sentences flowing with several syllable words guaranteed to make me sound like I held a doctorate in pretty much every field of study available.
          Now that I have children, managing to form and spit out a complete sentence is worthy of a victory dance.  My adult friends have running bets on how long I can go before announcing that I need to “go potty” or that something is “ucky”, which is now the technical term for something that is unpleasant to touch or smell.  Stuttering is now its own dialect which can be clearly understood by other adults who also have smaller versions of themselves running around.  The rate of the stutter and the volume of spittle escaping as we attempt to convey our thoughts is just the accent identifying the region in which we live.
          Before children came along, I could remember phone numbers from every home my family ever lived in.  I could recall the names of every person I’d ever called a friend, as well as their close relatives and pets.  I could read books once and vividly remember each and every plot twist months later when quizzed about them.  I could tell my parents every license plate they’d ever had registered to their vehicles throughout my childhood.  I could even recite the American presidents in order through Ronald Reagan.
          Now that I have children, I have to use a calculator to work out how old I am.  I enter a room and stare around in confusion as I rack my brain to figure out why I went into that room in the first place.  I have to cycle through the names of every child I’ve known, all of my siblings, and most family pets in the hopes of randomly shouting out the actual name of the child I’m attempting to discipline.  Once I manage to get the name right, it’s a complete toss up that I remember what I was yelling about to begin with.
          Before children came along, I was very aware of my physical appearance.  My hair needed to be just right and “fly aways” were captured and tamed with brutal efficiency.  My clothing choices were based on how well they flattered my eye color or accentuated curves without being flashy.  My nails had to be kept just the right length, shape, and color to catch the eye while not clashing with that day’s clothing color.  Shoe and clothing purchases were made often in order to keep up with current fads and the seasons.
          Now that I have children, my hairbrush gets to wave at my scalp in passing each morning before my hair gets shoved unceremoniously into a ponytail holder that may or may not be set at a haphazard angle on my head.  My outfits are thrown together purely on a “this was on the top of the pile” strategy that has so far miraculously avoided landing me on the “People of Walmart” website.  Shoe and clothing purchases are now made based on how well they hide mystery stains that always manage to appear on the way to important functions.  I wear an obnoxious amount of paisley and floral.
          Yes, children are definitely cute, funny, unpredictable, and highly entertaining.  But don’t let them fool you.  Their real purpose is to fulfill the age old Mother’s Curse we all laughed off and foolishly ignored when we heard it: “May your kids be JUST LIKE YOU!”  If we made our own parents completely nuts, it’s only logical that our children are going to have the same effect on us!

          Just remember, whenever you see a mom holding that sweet child in her arms and rocking gently back and forth in an absent-minded way, that’s just Mother Nature preparing us for the days when we’re found curled up in the fetal position rocking and humming to ourselves in terror because our grown children just promised to come back home… with grandchildren.