Teens and toddlers

February 22, 2008

Having a 13 year old girl and 2 year old boy in the house makes for an interesting dynamic. Luckily teens and toddlers aren’t too different when it comes to certain things. They like apple juice and apple sauce, ice cream, Nutella…anything sweet, really. They like to explore and experiment, want to be independent but also to be taken care of, and to be guided without being smothered. Our teen and toddler can also be quite strong-willed, stubborn, temperamental and prone to overreact.

What I love about them is how intelligent they each are for their age; their silliness and confidence; their contagious energy and sense of adventure.  And how imaginative and creative they both are.

diegoitzul.jpg

Diego and Itzul.

ode to donnie

February 15, 2008

A few months ago, the teenager showed up at our house nuzzling a tiny kitty she and a friend had come across. The cat had apparently survived a house fire, or was found under a house that had burned down. Teary-eyed, she begged us to keep him. Being a few months pregnant, I had mixed feelings from the start. We’d been talking about getting a pet, but I had hoped we could wait until after the baby was born to get one.

There we were, face to face with the question. We told her how unfair it was to put us in that situation. She and her friend wanted joint custody of the kitty, switching off every week. We said that wouldn’t work either, that it wouldn’t be fair to the cat (and would be a messy custody dispute should the girls’ friendship waiver).

So we took in little Donnie Darko, or Donnie. Diego loved him immediately, and experimented poking his face and picking him up by the tail. We saw an opportunity to teach our 2-year-old how to be “nice” to a pet and what is “not nice.” (Like the tail flinging).

diegoanddonni.jpg

As Donnie grew, Diego’s toddler influence must have taken over. Donnie became a rambunctious kitty, loving to paw at you and nibble where he could. A few times, he jumped up and swatted playfully, catching Diego’s face and leaving my 2-year-old crying and not understanding the kitty game.

Now, with several months gone, an exhaustive attempt at conditioning with a water bottle, and a good nail clipping later, Donnie is as crazy and wild as ever. Our attempt to domesticate this stray has failed completely. He’s a great kitty, but his eagerness to swat and bite to play has shot my nerves. I had to tend to Diego’s wounded face one too many times. With a newborn joining us in a month or less, I had to put my foot down.

Donnie needed a new home.

Today we’re heading to a no kill shelter where animals are placed in “foster homes” until an adoptive family can be found. The teen still really wants a cat, and we’re all sad it didn’t work out better with Donnie. I think an older, mellow cat would be a better fit for our household.  A nice cat just looking for a good home and less inclined to play with an infant or torment a toddler. I’m sad to see Donnie go, even though I complained the most about him. I hope we did our best raising him, and that he finds a home that will be good to him and let him be the wild kitty he longs to be.

the mystery of teenagers

August 30, 2007

It’s been a good 10 years since I saw the last of my teen years. Which makes it that much harder for me to grasp the thought process of teenagers today. Now that there’s a teen living with us again, I’ve caught examples of the baffling behavior and statements that can be produced from these puzzling minds.

Puzzlement # 1

Listening to music in the car.

Teen says, “This isn’t my type of music, but I’d listen to it.”

Dad asks, “What’s your type of music?”

Teen, after a moment of thought: “I don’t have a type.”

Puzzlement #2

“It’s so hot out,” teen exclaims. It’s about 100 degrees.

“Why don’t you take your sweatshirt off?” dad and step-mom ask, bewildered.

Teen mulls. Shrugs. Sweatshirt stays on.

Puzzlement # 3

Comes home from first day at new school with stories. Kids were nice. Didn’t make friends, but talked to some kids who were friendly. Liked band and volleyball. Was on the ball with handouts and supplies she needed. General disposition: pleasant.

“So how would you rate your day, from 1 to 10?” dad asks.

“A four,” she says.