Thursday, September 26, 2013

Poor Kitty

I don’t remember exactly how we got into the game, but we started playing “Poor Kitty” around the dinner table one summer evening. Someone goes to their neighbor and begins meowing and butting their head to be petted, while the neighbor has to stroke their hair and say “poor kitty” three times without cracking a smile. Of course, once we each had a turn and were getting a little goofy, it expanded into a free-for-all -- siblings ganged up on one another, or on the family member who was particularly hard to break. Eventually it became a point of pride to be able to resist not just one poor kitty, but a whole slew of them. 

I was able to keep a particularly straight face, and my children pestered me to explain my secret. It wasn’t until the next day, though, that they really made the connection: my littlest came limping in, upset about some nearly-invisible boo-boo. As she shed her big crocodile tears (in the manner that a youngest is especially good at), all her siblings started to snicker. I gave them a big wink and began to comfort her in a slightly exaggerated tone -- “Aw, what happened to your poor footsie? Right there? Do you think you’ll ever walk again?” -- while the other kids were burying their faces in each others’ shoulders to cover their laughter. 

It’s been a wonderful memory to carry into the busy year. I particularly enjoyed watching my kids compose their faces before their turn began; you could see the smiles trying to flit across, in competition with whichever grumpy or solemn expression they were aiming for. Each person had their own distinctly endearing way of trying to trump the giggles, and I loved them for it.

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