So this year for Christmas, we did what everyone says "you should NOT DO" as a responsible adult. We got our daughter a pet.
Hear me out. We are animal lovers. Both my husband and I have had pets since we can remember. Dogs and cats have always been a part of our lives. But when we moved to the ME, we agreed that for the three (hahahaha!) years we would be here, we would not have any pets. And these are the reasons:
- Pets like the outdoors. It's really hot here (+50C on some summer days). It makes it miserable - if not deadly - for most animals. Particularly for spoiled, domesticated animals.
- Pets need attention. We both work. Our daughter goes to school. When we go on vacation (7 weeks a year), we leave the country. Having a pet means re-organizing a lot of the way we run our day and lives. It's a sacrifice we're not sure we're willing to make.
- Pets need to be loved. We live in a country where dogs are seen as purely farm animals; they are teased and abused by neighborhood kids, and if lost they stand a very slim chance of being returned or at the very least brought in by a loving family.
- Cats abound, but they are mean, raunchy, ghetto cats. To bring a cat into your home means you must either accept that it will be torn to shreds by the neighborhood gang before the age of six months, or kept inside at all times as an "indoor" cat.
So for those reasons, we agreed that we would get a pet for our daughter when we returned West. No matter how many times she begged for a pup, we held firm. We felt very responsible. Like in our mature 40's and 50's we had actually grown up and realized that we couldn't just go out and get a pet on a whim just because it was cute and caught our fancy.
Soooooooo, two weeks ago, six + years into our stint in this country, I'm surfing the online souq at work (an office buy-and-sell site) during some free time in the quiet weeks leading up to the end of the year. And up pop these images of four little Persian cats. They are sooo cute! But I'm strong, we're not going to succumb. We're responsible adults. I'm a responsible adult. There are too many reasons NOT to get a pet.
As a result, I responsibly send a responsible e-mail to my husband, with the tagline "neat Christmas gift???? xoxoxoxox". I'm feeling very adult. He doesn't immediately respond. So I call his office number. No answer. So I furiously dial his mobile number. Breathe. Calm. "Ohmmmmmmm." Responsibility. We don't need a really cute, super furry, incredibly cuddly kitten looking for a loving, caring home. I just want him to check it out. That's all.
He picks up on the fifth ring, says "I'm in a meeting with the Manager, can I call you back?" Responsibly, I say "Ok, but can you make it quick, this is really important." He hangs up, and calls me back five minutes later.
"What's up?" he asks. "Can you go back to the office and check out the e-mail I sent you?" I say. "I think I've found the perfect gift for our daughter for Christmas."
So he goes back to the office, opens up the e-mail image, and calls me back, responsibly, immediately. And he says, "They're really cute, but it's up to you." And I say to him "Come on, take responsibility for your actions. If you really want a kitty, say so." So we hem and haw, back and forth, and he finally says, "ok, call the guy. I'll go see them after work. If it's on the up and up and they're fairly healthy and well cared for, we'll think about it." I am proud of his restraint. It shows how responsible we have become.
So I call the seller (8 times????). He doesn't pick up. I text him (4 times????), responsibly telling him what a responsible and caring family we are. Can my husband please go see the kittens after work? He calls me back. We make arrangements. My husband goes to see the kittens; he sees how loving and lovable they are. All they need is a loving family to carry them through to adulthood. He plays with the four for a bit, responsibly sees which one is naturally drawn to him. He chooses her. He tells the man he will be back after work on the 24th of December to pick her up. They shake hands, the deal is done.
We are excited. I go to the Veterinary Clinic. I pick up a kennel, cat food, kitty daybed with pink mattress, litter pan, kitty litter, toy mice, brush ... we're responsibly ready.
Christmas Eve rolls around. My husband goes to pick her up. The seller is not home!!!!! He is not answering his mobile! After about thirty attempts to reach him, we are disheartened, but agree that it must be meant to be. My husband responsibly leaves a note on his gate, explaining how the kitten was meant to be our daughter's Christmas present, can he please get in touch with us if he gets this message?
Christmas Eve goes on; we enjoy crostini and some vino and tell ourselves that our daughter has more than enough to enjoy on Christmas morning without need for a kitten. She can use the kitty daybed for her dolls. We'll save the kennel, and maybe someday in the future we'll reconsider getting a cat. We're taking this on as only responsible adults would. We're quite proud of ourselves.
At 21:40, my husband's phone rings. It is the seller. He was held back at work. Can we pick up the kitten the next morning (Christmas Day) at his workplace? Since I work for the same company as the seller, my husband passes the phone on to me as I will be able to locate the tradeoff spot easier. I jot the address down quite responsibly, and gush out profuse thanks and Christmas greetings to my Muslim co-worker ... Oooops! He takes it all in stride, as I responsibly proffer excuses at being so gauche.
When I hang up the phone, my husband and I smile serenely at each other, as only responsible adults would do. I then proceed to do a happy dance, he launches into a rendition of "We Are the Champions", and we high five and skirt around singing "we did it, we did it, oh yeah, we did it....".
Christmas morning rolls around. Our daughter is wholly satisfied with the loot she's received from Santa and her parents. Lego Friends, Frustration, princess dress and shoes, pj's, big girl panties, ... the list goes on. It's an awesome morning, but we know it's about to get better. But we responsibly keep mum.
At 8:00 a.m., I tell my daughter I have to go to the store to pick up a few things for Christmas dinner. I head off in my car, and almost immediately realize I don't have my mobile phone, so don't have the gentleman's phone number. But I figure that's ok. I can find him. So I drive along, listening to the French music channel in the car, anticipating having that little kitty in my arms! And halfway there, 20 minutes into the drive, ... I realize I don't have my i.d. because I've taken my husband's car, and won't be able to get through the work security gate to pick up the cat. And because I don't have my phone, I won't be able to call the seller to meet me at the gate. So I .... responsibly .... turn back to the house to pick up my phone and i.d. card.
When I am finally on my way, i.d. and phone in hand, I am fighting the panic. Two hurdles ... should I expect a third???? But I force myself to think responsibly. I breeze through the security gate, arrive at the seller's office building, give him a call, and he picks up! He comes out to greet me, and we make the exchange. He hands me the kitty, I hand him the envelope, and he tells me I am a few bucks short on the agreed-upon price!!!!! I do not have a single extra cent on me. He calls his wife, who thankfully says that "no", I actually have given the exact amount. Phewwwwffff!
I drive back home. I call my husband, tell him to get our daughter upstairs. I meet our nanny outside. She is ready with the wrapping paper. We wrap the kennel in the backyard and responsibly punch holes into the paper so that our kitty can breathe.
We place the wrapped kennel and kitty daybed under the tree. We call our daughter downstairs. Ask her how these two extra packages got under the tree? She unwraps the bed. We tell her it's for her dolls. She's not super thrilled, but graciously says thank you (she doesn't have that many dollies).
We responsibly stop her when she tries to flip the wrapped kennel over to unwrap it. She starts unwrapping. Not a peep from inside. I'm kind of worried; this kitten has not uttered a peep since getting into the kennel.
She looks inside the gated side. She says "it looks like a cat!" My husband says "You know it's not real, we're responsible, we don't have pets." She says "But it's moving." My husband says "It's battery operated; it's meant to be just like the real thing!" She is thrilled. She opens the door to the kennel. The kitten paws at her. She slams the door shut and exclaims "It really looks real!" We all laugh! I say "It is real!" She says "Is it really real?" I say "yes!" Her eyes saucers, smiling ear to ear, she asks softly "Is it mine?" My husband answers "yes!" She says "Do I get to keep her forever?" My husband answers "Yes!" She tears up. She tears open the door and pulls out the newest addition to our family. It is LOVE!
So she's been in our home for four days now. She's been to the vet's, been de-wormed, had the mites scraped out of her ears, is receiving daily eye drops and ear drops, and is due for immunization next week after her ear/eye treatment is over. She is a loving, lovable little thing who has brought a new vitality into our home. And a new sense of responsibility. You see, our daughter, an only child, now has someone to look over, to look after. So she's taken on litter duty, feeding duty, and loving duty. She finally has someone who relies on her, and it's amazing what a gift it has been to her. She was actually quite put out yesterday when she got up and our nanny had cleaned out the litter box. Our daughter had wanted to clean it for us without any prompting as a surprise. She is now telling us that this kitty is her "responsibility". The kitty that we said we wouldn't get as a "responsible" family. Ironic?
And obviously the gift has been shared by us all. All of a sudden, our house in the ME feels even more like a home. A kitten bouncing in the mess of Christmas gifts still displayed under the tree, running after discarded Christmas ribbon, climbing up your pant leg and cuddling up in your lap as you blog ... well, it just whispers homeyness, doesn't it?