The other day, my cats were bad. VERY bad. In the midst of a scuttle, they tipped over a kitchen chair, the chair fell into my oven, and the exterior glass of the door shattered. Glass skittered from one end of my tiny kitchen to the other, littering the entire floor. It was a mess. And it was not funny. At all.
I was in the kitchen when it happened. Had I been just a foot or two closer, I could have intercepted the chair. Instead, I watched the shattered glass cascade to the floor in disbelief. It was Friday, and I would clearly be living with an oven missing its front for a few days, at the very least. After calling to order a replacement part, I posted a picture on Facebook because really, who would think cats could do such a thing?
It wasn’t long before the four-year-old neighbor girl came to my door, sent by her parents, who were in the yard nearby. “I came to see if you’re okay,” she said in her little voice, a shy smile on her face.
“I am,” I assured her. “Do you wanna come in and see what my cats did?” She nodded. “I have to pick you up because there’s glass all over my floor.” I opened the door and lifted her into my arms. I gingerly tiptoed through the broken glass so she could see over the kitchen table.
Her eyes grew large as she stared at the mess, contemplating how cats could do such a horrible thing. Finally, she turned to me and studied my face. “Why are you not crying?” she asked, unable to contain her child curiosity.
Hmm. To tell you the truth, crying had occurred to me only as a briefly passing emotion. Until she suggested it. And once she had suggested it, I found it to be quite a valid suggestion. Perhaps as adults, we don’t allow ourselves to cry nearly as much as we should. After all, if I had cried in this situation, she certainly wouldn’t have questioned it. So crying was now a thought that was floating around in my head.
But there was another thought that was more urgent, tugging on a tiny corner of my brain, threatening to tear a hole unless I faced it, head on. My cats had made a huge mess of my kitchen and caused destruction that I would not have believed possible had I not been standing three feet away when it happened. I was home only because it was a holiday on my work calendar. My children were still at school.
Had I not been home that day, I would have walked in to this mess. (No one would have cleaned it up, but that’s a story for another day). I would have seen the glass scattered from wall to wall. I would have noticed the gaping hole on the front of my oven. And I would have blamed the boys.
When you have two nearly grown boys who feel the need to constantly slam each other around, why would you believe such destruction was the result of a tussle between two ten pound cats? The boys would have argued with me, explained that they had found this mess, that something must have happened while they were at school. I would not have given them the benefit of the doubt. After all, who would believe such a thing?
And so I have this newfound awareness that perhaps I am too quick to judge. I am too quick to point fingers. I am not open-minded enough to listen to slightly far-fetched stories. Perhaps every situation demands that I listen, that I understand, and that I give others the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps there are circumstances that I might not be willing to consider before jumping to conclusions.
So the question remains: why am I not crying? I’m not sure, but now that I have processed all that came of this incident, maybe I will. And I will definitely leave that option open for the next time….