Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Life with Mama and Papa Cat

Everyone thinks their parents are weird. I don't care who you are or how close you are to your mother and father, but everybody I know has some strange story about their parents' idiosyncratic ways.

Mine are certainly no exception.

Consider these:
  • My parents are in their mid-60s. Why is it that the older they get, the bigger their CARS get?
Sister Kitten and I have been out of the house for years, yet our mother still insists on driving a minivan. She says she's comfortable with it, and is used to driving a car that big. But why? The only things she puts in there these days are groceries. She doesn't put furniture in there; she hardly drives whenever there's a carpool. And she doesn't have any grandchildren!

And our father drives a Ford truck. Just a small one, but again, he has nothing major to transport. Besides, he says that at his age, he can't do much heavy lifting anymore. So why does he still have it?
  • They refuse to break their morning routine--and they're RETIRED.
Mama Cat still gets up at the ass-crack of dawn--5:00 AM. There is absolutely no reason for her to! She puts the coffee on and pours herself a cup--or two--or three. No breakfast, just coffee. And then she makes damn sure to go outside and get the paper before Papa Cat gets up--and if Papa Cat doesn't have his morning paper, he goes ballistic.

Papa Cat rises at 6:30--about an hour later than when he was working. He pours his coffee, sets the Hartford Courant in front of him at the kitchen table, and commences reading.

Meanwhile, Mama Cat sits in the family room with her coffee, reading the latest James Patterson novel or whatever mystery novel she's into at the moment. Mama Cat loves to buy the mass-market paperbacks at the supermarket. She goes through about three or four a week. She does this while Papa Cat finishes the paper; she can't read any section of the paper until Papa Cat is done with the entire thing.

Which leads me to my next point...
  • They constantly complain about the Hartford Courant, yet refuse to cancel their subscription.
Sister Kitten and I have suggested, on more than one occasion, that they go paperless and start reading the New York Times online. They flat out refuse, especially Papa Cat. He enjoys his morning routine. I respect that. But if you're going to keep reading the paper, why not subscribe to something else?!?! Papa Cat claims he doesn't like computers or technology, but this is a hypocritical statement, for...
  • Papa Cat has a Facebook account, and Mama Cat is fluent in textspeak.
I am not at all horrified by the fact that my father is on Facebook. He's not one of those parents who constantly checks my status or comments on it. He leaves my page, and Sister Kitten's, alone. He respects our privacy--or rawther, what little you can find online.

I am, however, disappointed that my own mother, who constantly corrected my grammar as a child and proofread all of my research papers in high school, now uses textspeak. My own 65-year-old mother!!! She first started texting when she went to Rome, and found that texting was cheaper than calling us. And then her messages got lengthier, and she started abbreviating. That disappointed me greatly. I have called her out on it several times. She says, "Well, no one other than you and your sister are seeing my texts, so what's the big deal?"

It IS a big deal! Now I have to go and revise this post from a year ago!!!

OK, that rant's over. Now how do I continue? Oh yes...
  • My parents are beyond obsessed with Costco.
I really shouldn't say beyond obsessed, for they only go once a month. But when they go, however, they load up on all sorts of...crap. Well, I shouldn't use the word "crap," but they buy their meat in bulk, as well as vitamins, shampoo, and toilet paper.

It's just the two of them living at home. They shouldn't be going through all of that stuff so fast! (Especially Papa Cat, who has very little hair left on his noggin).

Mama Cat sends me and Sister Kitten an E-mail about once a month that goes like this...

"Your father and I went to Costco yesterday. We got you both some kitty litter (in the 50-pound pails), some refills for your hand soap (about two GALLONS worth), and some of that pumpkin flax cereal you both like. Kitten, we got you some vitamin D as well. And we got both of you girls some tampons."

Now THAT I appreciate (except the part about the feminine hygiene products). Mama Cat needn't go through the trouble of getting all of that stuff for me and Sister Kitten. It's very nice, though; I cannot fault her for that.

But I can fault her for...
  • Her need to keep everything museum-quality clean.
As I wrote above, Mama and Papa Cat are both retired. She therefore has time to clean her house from top to bottom all the time. It is always spotless. It puts my house to shame. It makes my house look like an urban slum.

Sister Kitten and I had a bonding moment once when she called me, in a panic, because she was having all of us over for dinner.

SISTER KITTEN: I'm so nervous about Mom and Dad coming over!
ME: Why?
SK: Because no matter how much I clean Mom always finds something wrong! I know you wouldn't care all that much, but this is MOM and DAD!!!!

Isn't it a phenomenon, kittens? No matter how clean your house is, your mother will spot something that's out of place--especially the moment when she first steps through the door? And the worst thing is, the minute she spots something out of place, she always tidies it up. And then she chides me and Sister Kitten for being such messy housekeepers.

Uh, hello ma...we're both working professionals with tres busy lives!! Cut us some slack!

And there are various other things that puzzle me about the 'rents. There's their need to constantly putter around the house. A week after I moved out, for instance, Mama Cat ripped the carpeting out of my bedroom, only to expose the gorgeous hardwood flooring underneath. She then painted it and added new curtains, pictures, and throw rugs! "All from Ocean State Job Lot!" she proclaimed. (Her other favorite place, just behind Costco). And Papa Cat is trying to improve the landscaping, to various degrees of success. For years he has built a stone wall around the backyard--using stones he's smuggled from abandoned properties in the woods. He wants to build the wall around the front yard, but Mama Cat put her paw down on that one.

And then there are those other idiosyncratic habits to which I have grown accustomed over the years. They have their own Archie-and-Edith chairs in the family room, and God forbid that someone else ever sits in them. They use them to watch TV at night and to read their Sunday paper. But I won't fault them for the Sunday routine, for it's something I actually enjoyed as a growing kitten. Papa Cat would buy bagels after church, as well as the New York Daily News and the New York Post. They'd complain about the quality of the bagels they purchased, and how they didn't compare to the ones they got in New York. They'd read their papers and talk about Governor Cuomo, the Mets' latest woes, and why aren't the Jets as good as they used to be?

Don't get me wrong, kittens. I adore my parents and would be devastated if anything happened to either of them. But man, they are strange sometimes.

And if you're a parent, have you ever wondered what your children would say about you?

1 comment:

Improbable Joe said...

My dad still signs emails like they are snail-mail. Hell, my dad ends voice-mails with "love, Dad."

It is so bizarre that it trumps your whole list! You're lucky compared to me!