It seems that Wee Bot believes that pets are no less than tiny people who can’t speak English. Note I say speak English. He seems to think that our cats and dog have a full knowledge and understanding of language, including all the intricacies of complex language concepts. He thinks of them like alien creatures on Star Wars who can understand spoken English just fine, even if they can only respond in their own, native language. He seems to also believe that they can be convinced of social justice issues, right and wrong, personal rights and freedoms, and how one’s rights end where another’s begin.
When he was about five, we would tell him not to play with his toys on the living room floor because the cat would run off with his toys. When he asked why that was, we explained that the cat didn’t understand that it wasn’t welcome to his toys. Rather than heed our warning, he would simply try to reason with the cat and explain to it that the toys belonged to him and were off limits. I figured he would eventually outgrow that and that it wouldn’t take too long. *Sigh.* I’m still waiting that out.
At twelve and a half years old, I heard him admonishing the cat this morning. “Emerson,” he scolded, “Did you just climb up in my lap so you could sneeze in my face? How would you like it if I just came up to you and sneezed in your face?”
“Wee Bot,” I interrupted him over the humming of the espresso machine, “Reasoning with the cat? Seriously? We’ve discussed this.” I was tired and needed my caffeine.
How do you explain to a headstrong child that cats don’t observe The Golden Rule? How do you make them understand that a dog or cat’s concept of social structure amounts to members of the pack and pecking order therein? When you ask a cat a philosophical question and he answers with “Meow,” it doesn’t have a profound meaning behind it, because the cat doesn’t understand philosophy. The cat is not like Jabba the Hutt except with an unfortunate lack of captioning. He very. Simply. Doesn’t. Understand.
Wee Bot is generally a good kid. He is headstrong though. When he decides that he’s going to do something, then by God, that’s what he’s going to do, even if it directly contradicts instructions I just gave him. And, somehow, he thinks that I don’t know what I’m talking about concerning the pets (or many other things in the world, for that matter). He fails to believe that our pets only understand “good kitty” or “food” or “outside” or “treat” or “go do your business.” In all fairness, we have extremely respondent pets, and they act as though they understand far more than they actually do. If you speak to Emerson, for instance, it’s not at all uncommon for him to make eye contact and cock his head and answer conversationally. He has no clue what you just said, but he fakes it well. He’s an extremely social cat. That can’t help matters much.
Add to that Wee Bot is a little immature for his age emotionally. He’s an extremely intelligent kid, and has wit way beyond his years. He makes witty jokes that would sail right over quite a few adult heads. But, he still thinks it’s appropriate to cry over spilled milk, for instance. Literally. We’ve had that very issue at one time or another. I don’t think that it’s ever an easy job to be a parent, but each individual child comes with their own (sometimes infuriating) challenges. I think the best I can do is be patient, steam off a little on my blog if necessary, and direct his issues so that he has to confront them himself. Like I’ve told him about his schoolwork – I can help him, but I can’t do it for him. Only he can do that. If he’s going to be headstrong and think that he’s got the world figured out better than his parents, it’s probably time to get tricky and find a way to get him to learn the truth on his own.