I hear metal clash onto the hard, kitchen floor and the sound of a hundred small pieces hit and scatter like a flash hail storm, fast and furious.  It is a unique set of sounds that only the cat’s dish would make if it was dropped a few inches from the ground.  As the cat is not in a regular practice of flipping her dish, coupled with the fact that she is watching me fold towels through sleepy eyes, the culprit is obvious.

Dropping the laundry, I run into the kitchen with my heart pounding.  Stories about negligent mothers’ race through my mind as narrated by the voice of my own anxiety inducing mother.  

“It only takes a second for an accident to happen,” I hear her say. 

I imagine his great escape took place quickly; the latch not being secured, it was easy for him to pull himself up on the bars, flip the handle and swing out on the door to a few minutes of unchecked freedom.  He had observed his environment through the bars long enough to know exactly what to do first. 

Operation: Cat Food.

And there he is, the guilty party, sitting with his little legs crisscrossed in a position formerly known as Indian style, with his back to me.  Fortunately, at 29 inches tall it is easy to see over the top of his shaggy head when either sitting or standing.  He splashes in the water dish with one hand and spreads the kibble, steadily swelling with moisture and disintegrating, around him.  It appears that he is one step away from laying back and making a cat food angel in the mess with his arms and legs, the kind we used to make as kids in the cold Indiana snow.  

Hearing me approach, he looks over his shoulder and laughs, pleased with himself and newfound playthings.

“Ahem,” I clear my throat, “what are you doing, mister?” I ask and wait for a response as though it will be anything other than a long stream of dadadada.   

He moves a foreign object with his tongue as he chews on something else with his gums.

“What are you eating?” my concern returning as the situation continues to evolve. 

“Spit it out,” I demand and hold my hand out.  “You cannot eat cat food, it isn’t meant for human babies,” I try to reason with him.    

Naturally, his mouth clamps down, and sensing that he might be forced to surrender his tasty treat, he works to chew it more quickly and takes a hard swallow.  

He points his chubby finger at the upturned dish and then at me; I think he wants us to share until he takes another piece and pops it into his mouth with a most naughty smile.

Clearly, babies and toddlers are not for the faint of heart.  

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