Of Cats and Men

The Tanner family is in the market for a cat.

It has been nearly a year since Meowasauras (God rest her soul) exploded. Check my blogs from a year ago. She didn’t actually explode. But she kind of did. Died in the vet’s waiting room. There are worse ways to go, I suppose. But it was pretty ugly. Imploded might be a better description of her untimely demise.

Needless to say, I didn’t put that my previous cat Meowasauras (God rest her soul) exploded on our application to adopt a new kitten. Left that part out. But I did include our history with vets. Or lack thereof.

I was on the phone with our adoption counselor a few weeks ago. I was answering questions. Trying to prove my worth as a cat parent. She asked about Yara, our fourteen year-old Norwegian Forest Cat.

“When is the last time Yara went to the vet?”

“Well…” I started to mumble.

Never. That’s when. I haven’t taken Yara to the vet since we adopted her from the St. Paul Humane Society in 2008. But I didn’t say as much to the kind adoption counselor.

“You see,” I said, “we’ve moved to Central Pennsylvania from Minnesota. And we haven’t found a vet yet.”

This wasn’t actually a lie.

Finally, in order to qualify to bring a new kitten home, I promised to schedule an appointment for Yara.

“I’ll need proof,” the counselor said.

I made some phone calls. Yara has a vet appointment scheduled for the end of October. Rabies shots. Poking and prodding. Yara is an extremely anxious cat. And she’s been living her best life as an only cat ever since Meowasauras (God rest her soul) exploded. Or imploded. Yara’s not looking forward to sharing this house with a new creature, let alone getting shot up by a vet. Pray for her. I hope she doesn’t explode. Or implode.

Anyway, the Tanner’s are in the market for a cat. We have an adoption appointment scheduled.

***

The boys are desperate for some good news. It’s been six months of pandemic around here. That’ll get anybody down. Getting a new cat is good news for them.

I hate all the little disappointments the boys suffer during this pandemic. Here’s something that’s dumb. But sad.

Samson has been attending kindergarten entirely online. He was very excited for his first Gym class. Talked about it all week. He logged in at 1:00, and the Gym teacher forgot about the remote learners. So Samson stared sadly at an empty screen for fifteen minutes. Finally, I took him out to bounce on the trampoline.

“The teacher must have forgot,” Samson said.

“Yes, I’m sorry bud.”

“It’s okay.”

I know this is a small disappointment. And I know that most people have far more problems these days then being forgotten by their gym teacher. But the little disappointments make me sad all the same.

We learned that our school district is rearranging things again. Teachers are struggling teaching in-person and remote learners at the same time. Shocking, right? So now, the district plans to reassign remote K-2 learners to new teachers. Designated virtual classrooms. That makes sense. And the district should have made this decisions in July. But it’s the middle of October. And the only stability they boys have had since last March is their teachers and classmates. And now they have to change teachers? Change classes? Solomon cried for an hour last weekend when we told him. I emailed the principal and the boys’ teachers. The district doesn’t seem to have a plans in place yet.

I don’t know. The school district couldn’t possibly open during the pandemic unless some families keep their children home. Socially distancing and all that. And we’ve kept our boys home out of an abundance of caution. As much for their teachers as for them. Katie was going to have a job this year, but couldn’t because she’s monitoring the boys remote learning. So we barely make our bills each month. I understand we are fortunate to have a parent who is able to be at home with the boys. Many families are not in that position. But this hasn’t been easy for us. Financially or emotionally. And to be treated like an afterthought by the district is one thing. To watch Solomon cry because they’ve decided to disrupt what little stability he has was another.

Just makes me sad. So a little good news goes a long way. And for the boys, a new cat is good news.

***

I was scheduled to take my students to a local elementary school last March. Visit classrooms. Watch literacy pedagogy. Talk to principals and teachers. And then the pandemic hit. So we cancelled the visit. And the world ended. The principal of the school visited our Zoom class the next week. Talked with us for an hour. At the time, she thought two good things would come from this pandemic. First, we’d get better about hygiene. Second, our country would come together to face this problem.

Well, I haven’t regularly washed my hands since 1994. And now I bathe in hand sanitizer. So she was right with her first point. The second point? Woof.

Katie and I watched the Social Dilemma last week. Yikes. The dramatic portrayal of kids using cell phones was corny. But the interviews with designers of social media were chilling. The ways in which social media cultivates false realities that divide us is truly disturbing. It isn’t hyperbole to worry that any hope of democracy might be crumbling. Powerful forces shape our views of the world through Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or whatever. Work us up to violence. The evidence is all around us. Come together to face the pandemic? We can’t even agree that the pandemic is a problem. Or that it is real. And our disagreement leads to click after click. Leads to ad revenue. Benefits those who profit off our disagreement. I wanted to light my cell phone on fire after watching the Social Dilemma.

So there it is. Things are dark. So why not buy a cat?

I hope this one doesn’t explode. Like Meowasauras. (God rest her soul).

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