Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Life Lessons

Yesterday while we were outside, Jonah observed the ducks... um... well... you know, birds, bees, etc. He chased after the drake, "No! You naughty duck! Stop it! You're hurting her! Go away!"

I said, "Um, Jonah, it's okay. You don't have to chase him away. Don't worry about it."

"But he was hurting her! He was going 'arwm-wrarm-narwm' on her head!"

"No, it's okay. He... likes her. He's not really hurting her."

"He's being a gentleman?"

"Ummm... yeah. A gentleman. Aaaaand... You! Would be such a gentleman to go into the chicken coop and collect those eggs for me!"

"I'm not a gentleman!" he said, "I'm a gentle boy!"

So he got the eggs and then we headed into the barn to check on the chicks.

We were sitting by the brooder box, watching the cute little fuzzballs, and our mama cat was right at our feet as usual. Suddenly we heard a "mrow-ROOWW!" from her. We turned and looked and... out plopped a kitten. Right there in the pathway-- straw, dirt, chicken poop and all. (I admit that I rolled my eyes. I mean, come on, she didn't know that was coming? Hello, brain-damaged cat.)

"A KITTEN!" Jonah exclaimed as he bent over to pick it up. (All slimy and bloody, right there on the mamma cat's tail...) Can you blame him? Dang, that was better than birthday.

Then followed the usual "newborn kitten lecture" and crying. Same every litter.

So we sat down to watch. The mama cat obviously didn't care. I mean, she started it, after all.

We watched as she cleaned up the kitten. We watched as it blindly bumbled around trying to find the milk bar. We watched as the mama noshed on some placenta.

Jonah asked questions. Lots of questions.

"Where did it come from? How did it get there? How did it come out? Why is it all wet? Is the mommy eating it? Does it need a bath? Is it bleeding? What color is a kitten's blood? Does the mommy have 'milking things'? Does the kitten need some food? How does the baby get the milk? Can I hold it now?"

I gave the answers as truthfully and simply as I could. To him, it's all just a new thing to learn about and talk about and I want to keep it that way. Though, I admit, it got tricky when he pressed for more information. "But where? Where does it come out? Yeah... but where?"

So... I gave him some more terms. Uterus. Birth Canal. Under The Mama's Tail Near Where She Goes Potty. That seemed to help slake his curiosity.

After a while, I could tell there were more kittens to come, but the mama was bothered by our presence. She picked up the one kitten and went and found a place to hide. I made Jonah go in the house with me and there was much weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Of course, I've also had to reiterate the "newborn kitten lecture" repeatedly since then. We'll see if it does any good.)

Later on, Jonah was telling Daddy all about it. Having already been briefed on the subject, Daddy inquired, "So, where did the kittens come from?"

"From the mama cat's tail!"


  1. It's good that you are truthful about all of it and use the proper terms. It can be hard finding the line of how much information and how detailed and all that. That line is always changing as they grow up... wish it got easier

  2. what a story and so much from the heart. I really enjoyed reading this and had a smile on my face the whole time. I think you really captured the essence of motherhood in this one. :)

  3. cute story, but why the crying and who cried?
    You live in the country that is a great life for any cat.

  4. Jonah cries when he doesn't get his way. So when I told him he couldn't hold the kittens yet because they're too little, he had a fit. He's coming to understand, now, though. He asks me about a half dozen times per day if they're big enough to hold yet.

  5. Answering questions factually, with the accurate terms and at their level is exactly the right way to proceed. As the child gets older, the questions get more sophisticated, and so will the answers, but the framework of the conversations is pretty much always the same.

    If you can start these conversations now, you'll be much more likely to have a teen who'll ask YOU the big questions, instead of his/her peers... or no one at all!