Monday, January 20, 2014

Everett Allows Crosby the Cat to Live On in the Spicer House

For those that don't know, Crosby was our cat and my official lap warmer during writing sessions.  He passed away in 2012, but I still think about him often.  Everett wouldn't have much of a memory of Crosby since he was only five months old when Crosby passed.  In the past, I've shown him a few pictures of Crosby sitting beside him, and he'd normally blurt out "kitty" and then wrinkle his face wondering where the animal disappeared.



Everett adores Summit, and plays with him often.  For the last several months, Everett has started requesting the presence of a kitty in the house.  I believe he thinks they're walking and breathing teddy bears that love to be squeezed and smothered.  We had a stray cat that constantly was taking up residence on our porch at the old house, and Everett's eyes would widen and a massive smile would radiant from his face and his arms would go outstretch with the intention of snatching up the kitty.  Since we didn't know the cat, we constantly had to remind Everett it was only a "look at cat."  The presence of the cat reaffirmed in Everett's mind that we needed a kitty in the house.  The photograph with baby Everett and the cat convinced him it must be hiding somewhere underneath the couch or a blanket.



I would tell him the cat's name was Crosby.  Everett never acknowledged that name, but instead usually call out, "Kitty Come!"  When that failed, he'd start looking under his crib or seeing if the cat was in his toy bin.  After that endeavour proved futile (but very fun as he would discover his trucks and cars that would properly distract from his search for an hour), he'd usually then go to the stand-by call of, "Doggy Come!"

We knew he really wanted a cat.  We debated on several occasions about getting another.  Summit was likely missing a living thing that he could drag around the house, too.  But the thought of the daily routine of litter scooping and the weekly routine of bin cleaning, and the fact we've always been more dog people than cat, we have been able to convince ourselves we'd rather opt for a second dog instead if we were to bring in another animal.

On Boxing Day, better known in my house as Everett's birthday, Scott -- my Breakdown co-host and analyzer of the weekend box office -- proved yet again to be multi-talented by being the discoverer of perfect gifts as he bought Everett a stuffed cat.  A cat that is much easier to look after, but still caused Everett to squeal for joy, squeeze it as tight as he could, and lay a big kiss on its lips.  It should be added here that Everett is notorious for not really giving hugs or kisses to humans, but fuzzy stuffed creature get it all the time.  His brand new kitty gets it the most.  The day of his birthday a new best friend was found, and the kitty was by his side for the rest of the day.



Actually, it was with him for the next several weeks and went most places that Everett went.  This includes typical places like the crib or Grandma's house or sitting beside him during playtime with toy trains or trucks.  This also meant that the kitty followed him to less traditional places like the toilet.  It appeared that the kitty sometimes needs to go poo just like Everett.  Actually, one of the best ways to convince Everett it was time to go on the "potty" was notify him the cat really needed to as well.  Everett would sit on the toilet with the cat on his lap, and then make grunting noises for both himself and the cat.  Everett would then make us aware that the cat had used the facilities, and Everett would help out of the cat by wiping its bum.  I had heard of stories of cats being taught to use the toilet, but this was a first that Everett mastered the art of teaching the kitty how to avoid using his tongue for the nasty parts.  This is especially helpful for this particular cat as I don't believe it even has a tongue.  The lack of tongue means it is far quieter than Crosby ever was, but needs me to clean it when Everett decides it wants some oatmeal too.

The bum wiping incident was completely spontaneous.  Actually, putting the cat on the toilet the first time was something Everett came up with on his own too.  It does my soul well to know I have a rather creative son who comes up with some wacky ideas on his own.  The next thing he did with the cat wasn't wacky, but was still completely Everett-created and possibly inspired by being on the toilet.  The porcelain throne may be the place some of the greatest ideas that have ever been formed.


Everett had the kitty in his arms and was making the usual dramatic grunting noises while perched on the toilet.  I can't remember what triggered it, but Emily and I started talking about Crosby.  We didn't mention he was a cat, but were just reminiscing about some of the silly things he had done.  Even though Everett had never said the name "Crosby" prior to this day, it appears he had remembered all the times I showed him pictures of the cat and mentioned its name.  I had thought he had just thought it was the mysterious kitty in picture that never appeared under his crib and didn't have any particular name.  I obviously once again failed to grasp my son's power of recollection (which is disturbingly strong and even more disturbing when I forget that at the most inopportune times).

Everett started yelling out "Ros Bee"  "Ros Bee" and I didn't have an idea what he was alerting me to.  I started stretching my limited mental capacity to sort out if it was a new word for "poo" or "pee" that he was using to inform me the business had been completed.  Then I realized he was waving the stuffed cat in the air, and then shouting those words followed by slapping his hand against the cat.

I then suddenly realized what he must have been trying to tell me.

"Is the name of your cat, Crosby?"

"Yes, Ros Bee the Cat.  Meow.  Ros Bee the cat."



I nearly cried.  Mainly because I can be overly sentimental.  Also, I really missed my lap warmer and writing friend.  It was cute that Everett decided he'd finally found the mysterious kitty.  The cat that daddy loved was also his best buddy (next to Summit, of course).  Crosby was back, and he was Everett's stuffed companion. Everett was quite thrilled with his decision to call the cat Crosby and reminded me of that every day.  He stopped being "kitty" and was now Crosby.  It has also suddenly made me have a bit more affection towards the stuffed feline.

It is only a few weeks later, and Crosby doesn't really come to the bathroom anymore.  Everett has gone back to wanting to read books while conducting his transactions.  He also appropriately brings along Winnie the Pooh with him on occasion.  He still adores that cat, and will happily run ("run, run, run") to the cat whenever he sees a picture of the original Crosby.  He seems to believe they're one in the same, and I am okay with that.  I definitely don't need to guard the cheese and ice cream to the same extent with this version, even if there are far less surprise welcomed hops onto my lap.



Crosby is one of Everett's best buddies.  He'll often decide that the cat is the one to accompany him on road trips and visits.  This is why an event that was relayed to me about Everett's time at church yesterday seems like a rather fitting way to end this article.  Fitting mostly because it lets me glow and brag about my son.

Yesterday, Everett brought Crosby with him to church.  He was left in the nursery where they could share the usual activities of running and dancing -- the two most important parts of a day besides begging for a cookie.  Apparently, another young boy had decided that Crosby is pretty awesome, and started to cry over wanting to have him.  The story goes that the boy was in full meltdown mode and wouldn't compromise for anything other than getting Everett's cat.  So, Everett showing a heart and compassion that probably is rare for a 2 year old but even rarer for a 2 year old that spends most of his days with just his daddy and dog thus not needing to share, handed his beloved Crosby over to the boy.  Everett allowed the boy to play with the cat for the remainder of the time, and Everett didn't put up a single fuss being apart from the toy he brought.

My son has now made me very proud and has emotionally moved me on two occasions with events involving a stuffed cat.  The legacy of Crosby continues but with far less teeth marks in the bread.


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