One boring afternoon, my almost three year old daughter decided to paint our cat green. I admit, I was partly to blame for this disaster. After all, I had left the cat, child and a tube of acrylic paint alone in the same room. Of course a budding artist would squeeze paint all over our cat, Bengal.
The cat did not appreciate her new look, and tried to lick it off. Within moments, Bengal had a green frothy tongue and mouth. I realized that left to herself, she would likely die of poisoning. Even though I wanted to reprimand my daughter, I had no choice but to give the cat a bath. (After I put all paints up and out of reach.)
Bengal enjoyed her bath about as much as I enjoyed giving it to her. And just so you know, it’s really hard to get green acrylic out of cat fur. It took a while.
I could hear my daughter and her baby brother in the other room. I had left Nathan, who was about six months old, strapped in a bouncer. He fussed, but since I knew he was securely caged and that there wasn’t paint in reach, I thought he would be fine.
As I washed the cat, my anger also washed away and my sense of humor returned. The baby even stopped fussing. I bundled up the wet cat in a towel, carried her outside to let her lick away her trauma, and returned to find an entire box of Cheerios dumped all over Nathan.
I really think that if I hadn’t had that moment (I won’t call it peaceful, because I wouldn’t recommend cat bathing to anyone in need of relaxation and reflection) But if I hadn’t had the break from the commotion, I know I would have responded differently, and with a lot more anger.
As it was, I was able to see that my daughter had been only trying to make her brother happy, and more importantly, she had succeeded. Nathan was delighted to be surrounded by Cheerios. The only person unhappy at that moment was me. (Although, we should consider the cat. Bengal was not happy.)
I’m not advocating leaving your children alone so you can do something as calming as bathing your cat, but I do know that sometimes when someone makes you angry, taking a few minutes to regain your sense of humor can really help when you have to clean up the dumped Cheerios.