At the ripe old age of 18 months, she discovered how gravity would allow a ball to fall down the steps. She would toddle up to the baby gate and heave the ball until it crashed to the bottom of the steps in our ramshackle government quarters. Naturally, we thought this was not a bad lesson since she could equate how gravity would also have the same impact on her if she fell. Wrong!! While she never fell, she expanded her research efforts to items beyond a mere ball. For example, her mother’s hair dryer, my boots, and several other toys also made the one way trip to the bottom of the stairs. Coming home for lunch one day, I discovered an exasperated mom picking up most of the child’s room as it came down the stairs one item at a time.
Unfortunately for me, I laughed and said it was cute. This was absolutely what Mom did not want to hear. Her eyes narrowed, a slight color rose in her cheeks, and I discovered what most men fear all their lives. My wife of four years turned to me and said nothing. The silence was only broken by the fall of something as it came down the stairs. The icy stare and the white knuckles made my heart almost stop, until................ Fortunately I was saved by another event. It seems that my daughter’s noise also evoked the curiosity of the family pet, a not very bright cat, who wandered within range of my daughter’s grasp.
Now as we all know, whether we like it or not, science always gets around to doing live testing on animals. We shoot rats and monkeys into space, and even a dog was afforded the opportunity to try his hand at space travel. So, it was no real surprise to me that my young budding scientist would want to expand her horizons. Interesting, only because of its absence from the previous list of animals in space, is the cat. While curious, cats generally don’t like getting wet or flying, but in this case the particular likes and dislikes of the cat were probably not a real consideration. My daughter lovingly picked up “Mr. Mittens” and then gave him his first, and last, flying lesson. She was, after all, answering the time honored question; if gravity works on stuff, will it work on cats? To her surprise, and the cat’s chagrin, it does, . . . . . and does, . . . . . and does.
It was not a heave, or hard toss, it was more like a gentle underhand softball throw. “Mr. Mittens” entered a beautiful arc, and then made two short attempts at achieving a landing. The twisting action was especially entertaining to my daughter who was now cheering “Mr. Mittens” into the space traveler hall of fame. After a brief rebound from the first step, and then the second, “Mr. Mittens” regained his composure in time to land dead square, claws grasping, on my wife’s bare feet. Needless to say this broke her stare from me long enough to scream and then reach for my throat. Thank goodness she broke her stare, since this was all the time the cat and I needed to make our escape.
Looking back on this incident I just knew that one child was enough to be considered a real “Cosby” kind of parent. I had all of the joy, the pain, and the fear that Dr. Cosby swore was present from having multiple children terrorizing the home. Well, time heals all wounds and makes us wiser. In this case, all it did was slow me down and make me an easier target for what was to come. ~ Michael S. Pauley