of love and churlishness

Today we had a concrete mission: visiting the North Beach PAWS, looking for adoptable animals (check out Marty, THAT MOTHERFUCKING NORWEGIAN FOREST CAT).  My girl Jasmine was interested in a dog – and found one, but was ultimately offended and felt herself rebuffed by the Dog Adoption Beaurocrat who grudgingly “allowed” Jasmine the option to take home an animal, but – in Jasmine’s view – was a bit unfair, exacting, and pushy – by the end demanding that my friend adopt her preferred animal today, on the spot, or by not doing so she’d prove she didn’t want the animal at all.  So, I wasn’t there for that part – I was busy catting (more below, and SEE: MARTY), so don’t have a first-hand account of the scenario.

The adoption process at this PAWS is steep. I told J. the Cat Woman my kids were interested in a kitty, and so was I – but my husband was the hard sell.  After escorting the children and I to meet the animals and talking with me a great deal, even knowing an adoption was not imminent, J. brought me downstairs with clipboard and a long form and asked me a series of questions which became increasingly personal: Where do you live?  Do you rent or own?  How long have you had your current pets? Why do you want to adopt a dog / cat?  Will your cat be indoors, or go outdoors?  What veterinarian do you use, and are your shots up to date? What is your philosophy on pet ownership?  You seem a little high-strung, are you sure you don’t need to spend more time centering yourself before owning another animal?  It seems pretty obvious you only want another creature to fill up a hollow, spiritually-devoid Emptiness inside you.  No, really, I mean what makes you think you’re good enough to adopt any of these animals?  Look, I know you think you want to help, but I can see into your soul and you’re simply a sad, pathetic human being, and you should come back when you’re ready, that is, IF you ever really are ready.  Good luck, now.*

The four of us made it out of there eventually – after visiting all twenty-seven felines in person (SEE: MARTY), and it is a credit to my children’s hunger level they did not request a trip to the beach.  We ordered food at the Pub, but it took so long getting there we had to have it packed up, and drive home or else miss Jasmine’s work shift.  Cue:

My daughter has been out of sorts the last couple days; prone to being upset, short-tempered, unsatisfied.  What was fun was that when I was growing up, from the time I was age eight or so, whenever I got pissed off enough to express myself as such my mom would follow me and speak timidly through my (locked) door something like: “Kelly, you might be experiencing feelings and emotions because you’re going to get your period soon.”  Right, because first of all, don’t say “period”, kthx. And more relevant: it is so fun to be told your Very Self is just sort of silly and crazy because you have wacky lady parts!  Please, anyone reading, do me a huge favor and do not imply that when a woman is angry or has a strong, outspoken opinion this is because she has some kind of monthly craziness! Oh and incidentally, I did not start menstruating until age fourteen, which means, essentially, my blowups were diminished and tossed out as “hormonal” for oh, many, many years. Nicely done! (P.S. my dad and brother’s techniques for dealing with me my whole life: ignore in any way that I am, in fact, female).

So anyway, my daughter has been pissed at us lately, here and there, but I’m a smart woman and I know that it’s important she knows it’s OK to be pissed, even if it’s inconvenient for us at times.  I gave her a little talk the other day about good, healthy, normal feelings of irrational Hate.  I said, “You know, I used to just hate my mom, for no reason.  I’d look at her and just loathe her.  And if you feel that way about me sometimes, it’s okay.”  And Sophie was quiet.  And I could tell what I said meant a lot to her.

So today, as we sat down to dinner, she was kind of short and rude and angry with her brother, and we were all very patient with her. Then suddenly she burst into tears and said, “Mom, I’m sorry for my actions!  I’m so sorry for the mean things I’ve been saying!” and cried in such an open, vulnerable way, and put her arms around me.  I held her close, and I told her it was okay, and that I accepted her apology.  And I was glad that in that moment the apology came one hundred percent from her, because she felt bad, not because she knew I was mad or disapproving (I wasn’t).  Then I said, “You stay by me, okay?” and she nodded, tears streaming, and I kept my arm around her and rubbed her back.  And with her little black t-shirt and jeans and her blunt-cut dark blue haircut she looked so very, very much like the young woman she will become, not a little girl at all.  I thought of how so many people make it sound like teenagers are full of vitriol and laziness and entitled behavior and spite, and I wondered if in any way we could avoid that path by making so damned sure we remain open and loving to one another when things go hard.

If there’s one thing we Hogabooms do okay, it’s fighting, and then apologizing, and getting on with the loving.

* Seriously? I recognize a good shelter when I see one: this is a No Kill shelter, hosts two free neuter/spay clinics a year, charges fees that help run things properly, and is obviously a passionate and hard-working enterprise.  I unreservedly recommend adopting from their facilities, that is if you can stand the Penance Stare of the attendant administrators.

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