Little Blue got a haircut yesterday. With his hair grown out a bit, he looks more babyish, I guess because of his adorable curls. But now, all trimmed up neat and tidy, he's still totally adorable but looks like a little boy, a child, instead of a toddler or baby. This is accentuated by the fact that he has lost much of his baby fat that rounded out his cheeks and chin. His slender face makes him look older, more grown up. I am at once charmed and dismayed by this transformation. His maturing is of course delightful, accompanied as it is by an expanded vocabulary, more refined sense of humor and of compassion, and more willingness to focus and play interactively with us. At the same time, though, these developments signal the end of his babyhood, and brings into sharp focus that should we decide not to have any more children, we will never see these precious days again. It's a choice that looms over us in the background, a shadowy corner in our bright happy days that we try not to think about, but the time to decide draws ever nearer. Every time we discuss it I seem to have changed sides in the debate.
Then there is the kitty issue. Guen, nicknamed Little Girl, has never had a very high opinion of our human offspring. In the beginning, he was like part of the furniture, just another warm, cuddly squishy thing in our laps to lay down on. A few scoops and swats that sent her flying soon disabused her of that misconception and firmly implanted its terrible replacement ideology: the human child was an evil usurper who robbed her of our affections and should be hunted down and maimed at any available opportunity. Forced separations, time outs, begging, scolding, and swatting have not been able to uproot her foul outlook. Little Girl has taken up the habit of coaxing the child to play, then suddenly springing up to bite him. Little Blue has, through his amazing observational powers, quickly learned the fine art of scolding. Once bitten, he alternates between his two favorite behavioral responses: run and tattle to get kitty in trouble, or shortcut to chasing kitty down and scolding her himself, shouting "No no! Bad ditty! NO BITE!" and pointing his righteous finger of accusation in her face. Which she, of course, bites. For most people it is obvious that the cat has got to go. She's misbehaving, resists rehabilitation and shows no signs of improving in the future. She has even resorted to spiteful acts of urination on occasion. But for us, who adopted her as a kitten in the aftermath of the heartwrenching proclamation that we would not be able to have children, Little Girl is more daughter than pet, and the prospect of giving her away even to the best of homes is almost unbearable. We feel responsible for her unhappiness and her bad behavior, and it's hard to tell whether letting her go would only be a worse punishment or a welcome relief for her.
And so we delay, in both cases. There is still a two or maybe as much as three year window of opportunity within which we could decide to have another baby. And the days with kitty just seem to slip by, and not all of them are marred by incidents of biting or bad behaviors. We tell ourselves to watch a little closer, and we tell Little Blue not to play with the grumpy kitty, and try to believe that if we can just get through these toddler years, Little Blue will be wiser to kitty's body language and less interested in her, too. Maybe then we won't have to think about giving her up at all.