Today's Poetry Type:
She Wanted a Kitten
She wanted a kitten, she said
She searched ads and adoption sites
Choosing favorites as she read
looking for a new feline friend
She window shopped every day
And often well into the night
Crossing out those to far away
to become a new feline friend
White barn kitten with a black nose
In a cat crate huddled in fright
Given the name Amelia Rose
My girl has a new feline friend
Sometimes, learning can happen in the most unexpected ways, and for reasons I never would have suspected.
For instance, in the summer of 2015, my daughter, then just eleven, experienced a kitten-need that reached epic proportions. Her previous kitten came to us on a cold November night she would have been unlikely to survive. She wandered out of the woods behind our house as a palm-sized, nearly starved six-week-old ball of feisty feral fluff. She was never truly healthy, although she quickly earned the nickname “Crazy Baby.” Shortly before her second birthday, she died unexpectedly, and Lise was inconsolable.
Her need for another kitten eventually reached fever pitch. She spent hours on her Kindle and poring our local ad paper, searching for the perfect kitten – not as easy as it might seem:
We already had Squeak, a formerly feral cat, and, since she hadn’t lived with another cat since Baby’s death, we weren’t sure how she would accept a kitten in the house.
Our aging pit bull mix, Corki, generally got along well with cats, but on occasion, he’d had an impulse to treat Squeak as a toy, and once wrenched her back when he tossed her into the air. So a kitten or cat who was too comfortable with dogs might not be safe, and one who was terrified might be at less risk, but wouldn’t be happy in our home.
She had to rule out those that needed to be adopted in pairs, because we had room for one more, not two. Likewise those with complicated medical needs we couldn’t afford to meet.
Those too far away from home needed to be eliminated from consideration.
In the course of her “window shopping,” she learned to read carefully, to use mapping functions and calculate distances, to evaluate options, to set and change priorities and make lists, to be patient…she exercised math skills, reading, writing, and spelling while creating ever-evolving lists, and art while drawing pictures of cats and making signs (in a fairly sophisticated ad campaign to be sure everyone in the family was aware of her kitten acquisition campaign).
When she was offered the chance to adopt a barn kitten from a local farmer, she – pardon the pun – pounced. Amelia Rose, known more commonly as Ami, joined our family as a frightened ten week old kitten newly separated from everything she’d ever known. The transition went more smoothly than I’d thought it might, because Lise independently researched kitten care, necessary supplies, and how to introduce a new feline into our family.
What’s the point?
Learning happens simply through the process of living and pursuing a desired goal. All of this learning could have been included in a curriculum, through assigned worksheets, textbooks, websites, homework – but, removed from the context of the Great Kitten Quest, it would have been someone else’s idea, and very likely irrelevant to her own life. It might have become the kind of struggle often enacted when what adults want runs counter to or discards as frivolous that which a child wants with every fiber of their intense young being.
Given the time and freedom to pursue her dream, my daughter matured and learned – concrete skills like reading, geography, and math, yes…
But she also learned other, less obviously tangible, things: decision-making, working toward a large goal by breaking it into smaller tasks, dealing with disappointments, and readjusting, among others.