My dog and I have never really been around children. We find them to be loud and sticky and they do not respect touch bubbles. Any time a child puts a sticky hand anywhere near me I immediately respond as most folks do when a wasp tries to sting them: jelly legs and gasping half screams. Plus when they learn to talk they start being difficult vocally as well as physically. I just don’t see the appeal. My dog has an even worse reaction to kids than I do, she is obviously terrified but her way of showing it is to growl and try to eat them. Parents tend to get uppity when your dog wants to eat their little bambino.
This is my fault, of course. I never socialized Bell with children (I didn’t socialize with anyone who had any). So moving in with a man who has a small army of clones that are often here for extended periods of time terrified me. He, however, couldn’t have been less concerned. He loves him some Bell, she’s in love with him, and love will conquer all. Except for kids. I told him I didn’t like kids. He laughed as if I was joking. I wasn’t. Yet here we are. And there are so so so many children.
The eldest of the Mancandy offspring is now 14. He’s caught in that awkward not really a kid but not yet an adult age and is the calmest of the little ones. Bella likes him. He pets her, talk’s sweet to her, and doesn’t jet around everywhere like a hummingbird on crack.
The twins are now 12, and they are still in the child stage of a druggie bird. Everything they do is in fast forward. They run into and out of rooms, instead of walking around they jump over, they throw things instead of handing them, and the noise is always at an insane decibel. There’s confusion about how sound travels because they can be 4 inches apart and they will scream everything they say to each other rather than talk in a normal tone.
Bella hated them. She wanted to like them, but as soon as they went from sleeping children to awake children she wanted no part of it. She would wait until my attention was elsewhere and she’d show them teeth if they came too close. She began guarding furniture. Then she guarded entire rooms. They finally came clean about her behavior and she was banished from the room if she acted like a donkey. She was never left with them unsupervised. She figured out that if she wanted to be where everyone else was (and like most dogs she very much wants to be in the middle of it) she had to mind her manners. I do not trust her with them alone, but she’s gotten much easier with them.
This past visit from Mancandy’s family was a big one. One of the mini-candies lives across the country so her visits are few and far between. She flew in, we scooped up her brothers, and Mancandy Parental Units came down. There were Candies of various ages everywhere. The youngest slept in our room on an air mattress. The boys kept their usual room. The parental unit inhabited the guest room. The house that seems pretty big most of the time became much too small. There were people everywhere. And children have a need to move things to places that make no sense. The house looked like a gaggle of raccoons had spent a couple hours gleefully tearing the house apart and had eaten everything in the house while deconstructing it. I took to locking myself in the water closet of the master bathroom with the outer door locked as well so I could pretend I didn’t hear anyone knocking. Two doors are sound proof you know. Often Bell came in to hang out with me.
I had no idea how my dog would handle this, and I was even more concerned about Weebles. His reactions are rarely predictable, and he doesn’t really know how to run away or defend himself. A gaggle of loud children plus my anti-kid dog and my confused potato cat seemed like a recipe for disaster. I was, fortunately, mistaken.
Bella figured out quickly the kids dropped food constantly. Especially the 9-year-old. Bell’s love of food (she’s definitely my dog) overrode her fear of the kids. She didn’t necessarily want to cuddle with them, but she was MUCH more at ease. I could relax and not be on high alert for a launch to maul a child’s face.
Weebs, however, was the star of the show. He is the perfect cat for children. He’s fascinated by movement, so he would play with feet, toys, fingers, etc., for hours. He will grab but doesn’t scratch or bite. He’s too confused to object to being hauled around (the 9-year-old loved to carry him around). He doesn’t care if there are loud noises or fast movements. He’s not overwhelmed by 4 children crowded around him. He was absolute perfection. He got so much attention he’s been sleeping hardcore for 3 days straight and I don’t blame him a bit. Between trying to keep up with the other cats, be nosy and follow adults around, and trying to catch quick little fingers, toes, and dangled toys Weebs has never worked this hard in his life. His days were packed to the brim! He even got in on game night.
He’s the perfect cat for a huge family, which is exceedingly bizarre to me as I never wanted any children and somehow found myself in this big collection of people that make up a modern family (including the ex’s and their current relationships and all the insanity that brings) without any preparation. The dog and I (generally considered of normal intelligence if not considered normal in personality) may stumble, but my sweet little spud kitty sails through with ease. He’s a champ. The rest of us just live in his world.