Teenagers are like feral kittens
July 15, 2012
I have a vivid memory, the contextual details of which are quite vague, of being in the dusty garage of a really old person with my best friend from primary school. We had both entered the garage while her parents attended to the old person who lived in the house with anticipation because we had been told that one of the old person’s cats had had kittens.
I’m sure it suited the adults for the two of us to be out of the way and being entertained in the garage. I wouldn’t have thought that at the time. At the time it was like a magical mystical opportunity to find a baby kitten, hold it and bond with it, love it and be loved by it forever, make it my own.
Imagine a movie set, where the prototypical dusty garage has been constructed. There is probably a penny farthing cycle in a corner, or at least an old sewing machine, everything is the same color, a dusty beigy grey, scant light comes through a moldy window and cobwebs garner corners and window frames. This is the scene Cathy and I entered. We should have been holding hands. That’s how it would have been done if it were a movie.
She spotted the kittens first. They were all in a group on a ledge by the window. We were instantly besotted. They were snuggled together for warmth. It was like a little kitten mosaic. How fortunate we were to be able to enter and choose a little kitten, a disadvantaged kitten, who had never been loved by any person before us. Poor little kitties, lonely little kitties in need of a child to claim them. I could hardly contain my rapture.
We approached the kittens quietly. I can’t remember who reached for their kitten first. We may have reached simultaneously. Upon noticing the extended hand of a grade six girl, the kitten mosaic became a snarling, hissing mass of little teeth and claws. We pulled our hands quickly back. This was not how we had expected it to be.
Together in the garage, Cathy and I reflected upon how the kittens had never known a human from the beginning of their lives and were therefore wild. We didn’t attempt to pick one up. They were pretty bloody scary actually. No one likes to be hissed at. Anyway we didn’t want to contribute to the little kitten anxiety that was clearly being demonstrated. We watched them for awhile, made no headway in being accepted by them and returned to the adults when called without words to voice our collective, unspoken disappointment.
This morning I went to my 19 year old daughter’s shared house to drop off her phone. She’d left it at my place. I’d suffered a bit of abuse from her the previous night but we had sorted it out and I had reassured her that she was loved. She tamed as she sobered up effectively. Anyway, they’d had a house worming party that night. I knocked on the front door and entered when I found the door was unlocked. I tapped on my daughter’s room and left her phone on her bed. She was still in bed closely packed in with another unidentifiable party goer. I’m sure there were heaps of sleeping teenagers and early twenty something’s scattered around the house asleep in clumps (like the feral kittens). There were signs of party everywhere, scores of P-plated cars parked randomly on the front lawn and in the driveway, cigarette butts scattered all over the porch and front yard, an empty bottle.
The feral kittens came to me as a flash back on the drive home. Teenagers are just like feral kittens.