Thursday, 17 March 2011

Recruiting A "Ranked" Dependent

If 2009 was the year of the wedding then 2011 is definitely the year of the baby. When I was travelling I managed to miss the highest concentration of friends’ weddings and since returning a growing number of folk are announcing the forthcoming arrival of another family member.

It took me years to admit that I was old enough to think about buying a house but despite my advancing years, weddings and babies still seem far off - especially the latter! Having said that, last weekend I became a mum, deciding to adopt rather than brave a newbie.

My son is enormous, very hairy and leaves a ginger trail behind him. Merely the responsibility of having my own cat has worried me for some time but since getting the flat last summer and The Boy pretty much permanently residing there, the possibility has become more and more plausible. Coming across Marmalade last Saturday and going to collect him on Sunday has already changed our flat dynamic.

Now re-“christened” Major Richard Parker, combining Catch-22 and Life of Pi references, our son has already shaped and marked his new surroundings and we’ve rearranged certain furnishings especially to pander to his needs. Getting a house cat who will spend much of the day roaming the flat as he pleases means we’ve had to remove certain ornaments that are likely to get easily destroyed.

Despite growing up with cats my whole life, I’ve never actually had my own cat away from my first home – there is clear evidence of this in our paranoid dealings with The Major. The bathroom doors are permanently shut and toilet lids both closed, the flat is now entirely non-smoking regardless of weather and the other day we even removed closed scissors that were lying on the kitchen floor! As The Major’s previous mum was a schizophrenic who didn’t like her three cats anywhere near her, although affectionate, he is a little on the jumpy side so we’ve been closely monitoring his food intake and trips to the litter tray; It is almost as if there’s a small toddler in the house.

When I am away from our Leeds flat, the majority of nightly phone calls are now focused on how The Major is doing, what he has been up to and how he’s settling in. As soon as he does anything vaguely amusing, just like a parent with a child, I’m whipping the camera out to document his every move.

I’m perpetually amazed a particular friend’s children always remember my name and are comfortable around me when they only see me for a handful of occasions every year. Unlike a small toddler, The Major unfortunately doesn’t seem able to remember me and pick-up where we left off so easily. Flitting between Leeds and London seems to make it difficult for him to form a strong bond with me. Having repeatedly licked my hand, after three days apart, he’s now cowering from me under the sofa.

Although we’re already re-thinking future plans for weekends away, as someone still entirely unready for children and a strong contender for “The Least Broody Woman" award, I’m happy with The Major’s ability to look after himself during the day and manage to find his own games to entertain himself. When it comes to the responsibility of having children, it’s definitely one step at a time – I’m more than happy starting with a furry dependent.

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