"taleS froM the trencheS

National Guard wife blogging about her adventures with three sons and the unexpected joys of Smith-Magenis Syndrome (SMS)
....um, yes. They are tears of joy. Really.

Our Squad

Our Squad

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Adoption of Miss Kitty

“You can just take the boys to the pet store,” I told my husband, Charlie. “Their double stroller will not fit down the aisles of the book store. I should not be more than ten or fifteen minutes.”
Ten or fifteen minutes was just enough time for me to pick up the new potty training book all the support group parents were raving about, but not too much time for one man and a couple toddlers to get into any major trouble. Of course, I did not take into consideration that my husband’s Army National Guard unit had just returned from three months of training in another state. Or that until a week earlier, we believed his company would be deploying to Iraq for at least a year. We were not certain why Charlie’s mission had been cancelled, but since I was already in my second trimester with our third son, I was not going to question our good fortune. I headed off to find the miracle book and the boys went the other direction.
I had forgotten to write down the title of the potty training book. And it seemed there was more than one written on the subject. I roamed every aisle and enjoyed the peace and quiet. After three months of no privacy, not even in the bathroom, I may have let a little more than fifteen minutes slip away from me.
The method I heard about had worked for other families because it integrated a doll that could “go potty” in front of the child, which was followed by a party for the successful doll. Charlie would love that idea. I had already planned to have the “doll parties” while he was at work.
Our oldest son, Garrett, was three and no where close to independent toileting. He was born with Smith-Magenis Syndrome which involved many physical and mental delays, as well as autistic-like behaviors. He, like many SMS kids, was a visual learner and other families had success with the method. Our eighteen month old son, Patrick, was a typical child but had recently started copying Garrett’s behavior. I was hoping if I could get just one of them interested in the fine selection of potty chairs lining our bathroom, the other brother would soon follow. I had run out of ideas and was not looking forward to diapering three children at the same time.
At last, I had found the book and made my way to the pet store. When I stepped inside the doorway, I saw Garrett sitting in the front seat of the stroller. He was holding a pure white kitten like a baby, rocking it back and forth. It was a tender scene that was becoming few and far between in those days of major toddler meltdowns.
“Okay, I found my book,” I said to Charlie. “We should probably head home and make the boys some lunch.”
“Look how gentle Garrett is with this kitten,” Charlie answered.
“Yeah, he can be so sweet,” I agreed. “Okay, let’s go.”
“But,” Charlie explained, “Garrett turns away with the cat every time I try to take her back.”
“You’re not stronger than a three year old?” I asked.
“Well,” Charlie started, “I was thinking-“
“No,” I interrupted. “What if this book does not work?” I asked, waving the bag around wildly. “Did you forget we have another diaper on the way?”
“But look at him,” Charlie implored while rubbing the top of Garrett’s head. “This will help him learn to be gentle with the baby.” Garrett was playing his part well as he hummed a Barney song to the cat.
“Pregnant woman are not supposed to clean up cat litter,” I replied.
“Oh, I’ll take care of it,” Charlie promised. “Just think about it. We don’t have to make a decision right now.”
The teenage clerk walked up to Charlie and handed him a bag of kitten chow. “Here’s the paper work you need to take to the vet. She’s already had her first set of shots,” the girl said. “Oh, and I put your receipt inside the folder.”
I shot Charlie “The Look” as she walked away.
“I promise,” he began, “you will never, ever have to clean the litter box. I will take care of everything. Garrett just loves this kitten. You can see a change come over him when he holds her.”
“Well,” I agreed, “I sure see a change in you.” Charlie had always been a dog person in the BK (before kids) world. Secretly, I was thanking the heavens that the mall pet store did not sell ponies because I am certain we would have had one tied to our front porch.
Our life got much more interesting once Miss Kitty joined the family and Brennan was born. I would love to share more stories, but I have to go and clean the litter box…
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