The little neighbor girl who typically greets me when I get home from work in the evening is named Claire. As unpopular as this is to say, I’m going to say it anyhow. I’m not a huge fan of children. Oh sure, I love the kids in my family…the ones who are children now and the ones who used to be kids and have moved on into adulthood. I’ll always love them and want to spend time with them, remember funny things they’ve done or said, look at pictures and ooh and ah over them.
But other kids? You know, those loud, uncontrolled, little trouble makers? Yeah, those are the ones I don’t really like to spend a lot of time around. They make a lot of noise and mess with my things. And their parents just laugh and talk about how adorable they are. I’ve come to the conclusion that most parents think everyone else sees their kids the same way they do, as little darling angels, the most intelligent beings ever to walk the face of the earth, more beautiful than any other child ever born. When, for most of us, that’s not quite how it is.
Then comes Claire quietly sneaking into my life, her little arm wrapped around my porch post, softly asking me what my kitties have been doing all day while I’ve been at work. When I told her they’d probably been sleeping most of the day, she softly asked, “‘Cause they get tired?” I had to think about that for a second. I don’t think Spook and Scout do much of anything to make them get tired, but who knows how a little kid’s mind works? I finally answered her question, “Yeah, they were probably worn out from watching the birds all day.” Claire solemnly nodded as if I’d imparted words of wisdom.
Looking up at me through thick lashes, Claire asked the question I’m sure she’d been wanting to ask for days, “Can I pet your kitties?” Uh oh…my cats aren’t used to children…at all. I never let them go out into the big, scary world where there are lots of dangerous things just waiting to kill innocent little kitties. But…there was Claire…wistfully waiting for my answer. And, before I could stop myself, the words tumbled from my mouth, “Let me see if I can catch one of them…”
Seriously, Patti? You’re going to let a little girl kidhandle one of your babies? Apparently so. I gathered Scout up, thinking she’d be less afraid than Spook would be. I failed to take into account how big Scout is. Or that other kids would see Claire petting her and make a beeline to my porch. That’s when Scout started getting nervous. I got a nice little scratch on my arm for my efforts, but Claire really enjoyed petting the kitty and commented on her brown eyes. I finally took Scout back inside and scooped up Spook (against my better judgment). Imagine my surprise when Spook allowed all of the kids to pet her and fuss over her.
I’ve never seen Claire smile, but she almost did when she was petting Spook. She kept talking about how green her eyes were and how soft she was. I know she wanted to take her into her arms, but I didn’t think that was quite the thing to do, not for Spook or for Claire. And to see that half-smile on Claire’s face made my day.
I guess I have a new little friend. Her name is Claire.