It Could Have Been Really Bad

This morning, the cat escaped as The Man and The Boy left to go to Grammy’s.

He’s escaped before, but usually sticks close to the back deck, or just circles the house, allowing us to follow him.  Today, however, there was a rabbit involved, and the hunter in Raffi burst loose.  When the man went to retrieve him from the back ditch (between our lot and an overgrown field behind our house), Raffi actually hissed at him and bared his teeth.

Rather than risking a hand to the monster, The Man decided to drop The Boy off, and return to see if he could get him back inside.  But when he returned, Raffi was nowhere in sight.

He called me at work, and all the possible outcomes ran through my head, and remained in the back of my mind all day.  When I ran home after work to change, I looked all over the property, making smoochy noises, purring, and chirping as I went.  Nothing.

I started to think he was gone for good.

And I started to wonder what I was going to say to The Boy when he asked if Raffi had come back.

I prepared him as best I could, explaining that he may come back tonight, or sometime in the next few days, but that if he didn’t come back in about a week, he may be gone for good.  He processed this, and seemed ok, but when we got home and Raffi was still not around, he began a negative cycle, which was not going to end well.  How do you tell a kid to be patient when he is worried he’ll never see his cat again?

After about an hour of the pacing, the self-talk that started to get louder, including phrases like, “He’s NOT coming back,” I heard The Man’s truck pull in.

And then I heard a small kerfuffle, and The Man saying, “Open the door!” to The Boy, who was outside pacing the deck.

And Raffi was back.

Tired Boy

Raffi was visibly tired after carousing the neighborhood, or ditches, or the neighboring golf course… who knows where he went (we are contemplating a go pro for his head in case he pulls this stunt again, because we are that curious).  The rest of us were incredibly relieved, and impressed he could find his way home. And The Boy was happy not to have been abandoned after all.

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The Cat Stays

A few weeks ago, I posted that we were probably going to have to re-home the cat we rescued due to my allergies.  Much to The Boy’s delight, we have decided to hang on to Raphael.  As long as I am careful about washing my hands, and as long as we manage the cleanliness of the place, my allergies seem to be held at bay.  He is still a very sweet kitty, and The Boy has stepped up, all on his own initiative, feeding Raphael without being asked.  I’d love to see him get to a point where he can help with the litter, too, but mornings are already crazy, and baby steps are still progress.

Raphael is an older cat, but still fairly frisky, and loves the hot pink wand toy The Boy bought for him at the dollar store more than any other toy we have purchased.  He also likes to hang out in The Boy’s room, and has stopped yowling at night.  The Man is still his favorite, but I think I may be winning him over…

cuddler

The Cat’s New Tail

The Boy has a cold, and you know what happens when you mix autism and illness… let’s just say hilarity does not ensue.  Cranky-pants, constant-verge-of-meltdown ensues, and it ain’t pretty.  And from what I can tell, school was no different from home today.  So when we arrived home today, he put on his “cat costume” (which isn’t really a cat costume, but more of an everything-plaid ensemble, because according to The Boy, that makes him look like a calico…  okaayyyy…) and went outside, because it was rather warm today (and sunny!).  The last detail of the cat costume is the scarf (tail) he and The Man bought me for my birthday a couple of years ago, but today, the scarf had other ideas about being dragged on the concrete.  It turned into a frayed mess, and The Boy began to wail because it was “broken”.

We went back and forth, me trying to calm him and offer solutions, and The Boy calling me names and dwelling on the negative.

I have found over the past few months, that when The Boy is at his most frustrating and meanest point, he will often welcome a hug, and crawl into my arms (well most of him), and cry like a baby.  That’s what this behavior all boils down to, folks.  It’s an expression of his feelings.  He doesn’t really mean that he would like a new and better mom, he just means, “I’m sad and mad and frustrated, and I want to cry”!

While he was in my arms, I started suggesting alternatives to the scarf.  Rather than try another fabric scarf (which is what he wanted to do), we needed something different, something tougher that would withstand the concrete, because fabric and concrete just don’t get along.  He attempted to get sidetracked with, “Why do concrete and fabric not get along?”, but I motored right past, thinking aloud about something vinyl or plastic, like an outdoor tablecloth…  I suggested we go to the fabric store to see what they had.  I then had to explain that fabric stores had all kinds of materials and not just fabric (because I think I really confused him after just telling him that fabric and concrete didn’t get along!).  As soon as he understood what I was getting at, he wanted to go immediately, all full of hope and smiles.

We were able to find a plaid outdoor tablecloth material for $3 a yard, and came home triumphant.  I offered to sew it up for him, so that the soft side wouldn’t be exposed, and he enthusiastically agreed.  I broke out my new IKEA sewing machine for the first time, reached way back into my memory banks to remember how to set it up, and was able to do what I had promised.

And now our “cat” has a new tail!

This is a day in the life, and this kind of turnaround is what I live for.

The things I do for my kid

His Latest Obsession

His latest obsession is killing me.  Ever since he returned home from being at his dad’s for two weeks, it has been non-stop cats: dressing like a cat (which consists of sticking a scarf in your pantwaist), meowing, crawling on the floor, and talking about “Gary”, his imaginary cat.

The Boy's hands after he returned from his dad's in January...

The Boy’s hands after he returned from his dad’s in January…

Today, I snapped.  Not feeling well and trying to get some rest, I asked if we could take a break from the meowing.  And as soon as the words left my lips I knew what a mistake I had made.  You just can’t suggest that he take a break from his obsession.  That would be like asking someone to take a break from their career.  It’s not that easy.

But it’s driving me batty.  Mostly because I can’t really help him make this one useful.  And he keeps asking about when he can get a cat, and when I will outgrow my allergy.  And I’m not a huge fan of cats to begin with.  If the “visitor cat” were coming around, he’d get his fix that way, but I don’t think he’ll be coming around with multiple inches of snow on the ground.

And so.  I’m at an impasse.  And slowly going insane.

Bec at snagglebox.com wrote an amazing post about this very topic.  I think I need to re-read it a few hundred times to get me through this.

Testing His Hypothesis

The Boy has a science project: develop and test a hypothesis.  His wonderful ASD teacher suggested hooking him with a subject he likes.  The Boy and I read through the assignment, and one of the suggestions was “Test what food your pet likes…” — we didn’t even finish the sentence, and he started hopping around, saying we should do that with “Gary”.

“Gary” is his imaginary cat.  Or rather, Fantastic Babysitter picked up a tiny little stuffed kitty, and wrote an adoption letter from the shelter (and included a tiny little litter box, food tray, etc.), and The Boy promptly named him “Gary”.  You know, like the snail.  From Spongebob.  Anyway, when we leave the house now, The Boy has to get on his imaginary phone and call the cat sitter to come over to watch Gary…

Gary, chillin' in the bathroom

Anyway, I told him that if we were to do this, we would have to use a real cat.  I contacted Fantastic Babysitter who has a plethora of animals, and asked if we could, you know, borrow one for an experiment…  No, I explained the premise, and she said yes!  The Boy and I will be cooking up some homemade cat treats, and purchasing some store-bought ones as well, to test his hypothesis that the average cat would enjoy homemade treats more than store-bought ones.

If his obsession is with pets in general, and cats in particular at the moment, then we shall run with it.  I just hope it is relatively short-lived.  He asked the other day when I would grow out of my cat allergy, and it just about broke my heart…