We have a cat.

That’s a line I never thought I’d write. I’m not fond of cats, but I’m no hater either. In high school, I had a friend who had a sadist streak toward cats. One day without any provocation, he snagged a stray by the tail and spun her round-and-round over his head, the cat’s shrieks piercing new decibels with each whirl. Finally, my friend released the screeching cat, on the high arc of a spin, sending the poor creature rocketing through the air and landing on a roof. The cat dug her claws into the shingles, stunned and motionless. I felt bad for the traumatized feline, and I’ve never forgotten that cruelty.

I carry no ill toward cats; they simply aren’t my thing. More than this, though, we’ve been in a season of life when I can’t imagine taking on responsibility for one more creature. I’m maxed out on emotional energy, financial resources and mental capacity. Kids will do that to you.

So a couple weeks ago when Miska raised (again) the fact that Wyatt was begging for a cat for his ninth birthday, the only words I could muster were, Are you kidding me??? She was not in fact kidding me.

Neither was Wyatt. He begged. He pleaded. He gerrymandered. He teamed with Seth, and they staged a coup. He worked his Wyatt-ly manipulation. He concocted plans to save up $150 for the adoption fee, littler box and supplies. When Wyatt said he would gladly take responsibility to clean the litter daily, I knew I was finished. This coming from the boy who has been known to gag over the sight of a carrot (a carrot, I say), the boy who acts as though the Apocalypse has arrived when asked to clean his room.

But something good was emerging in the heart of this son of mine. He wanted a creature to care for, a creature to love. This was no passing whim. A piece of who Wyatt truly is was finding expression in his desire. This was one of those moments where a mom and a dad know we’ve been offered the opportunity to love a boy, to see him and to love him and to encourage him toward his best and truest self. I would have been a fool to say no.

I’ll have many opportunities, with both Wyatt and Seth, for these yeses. I hope I recognize them.

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