Diligence

As a little girl, I had a pet cat, which came to be mine through my mom’s second marriage. I enjoyed this cat name Kid because it taught me responsibility and was so much fun to play. I taught it to do ‘jack-in-the-box’ and scare my brother. Kids was the firs pet to teach me responsibility. My affinity for cats lasted more than twenty years.

Every pet thereafter was a cat. When I went to teach in Colombia, I raised four kittens without their mother, when they were recently born and still without sight. I kept them in a box with soft towels, and a baby doll bottle to feed them milk, until they were old enough to go to new homes. I was their surrogate. I fell in love with one of the kittens and kept her for myself.

Cats were a successful pet for me. They were always easy to care for and easy to play with. Litter boxes and food left in their bowls allowed me the easy freedom of singleness. They would wait for my return, always happy to see me as they walked up to push against my pant leg. Cats allowed me the flexibility of caring as a parent with the not-yet ready for the responsibility of true parenthood.

Since my true inducement into parenthood, I’ve come to be the dog lady. I did have a puppy years ago, but failed at my attempt of diligence at being a parent to my puppy, Maxwell. I gave him away, but never forgot my inability to be diligent and learn how to be a good dog owner. I look back and feel as though it could have been different.

Now it is different. I have two dogs which were rescued through the sheriff’s program. I’ve become a dog lady instead of a cat lady. I find it interesting when I reflect on how things change and turn for our better development. While being a mom of three boys, I’ve learned much about being a diligent parent. Moms almost always make comparative notes with other moms to decide and measure one’s caliber as a parent.

With the arrival of our new pets, I learned from my failed experience with Max. I learned that I needed to be trained with my pets so that we could live harmoniously. If it weren’t for the cost, I’m sure there would be more training to learn on all parts. Now, not only am I finding that diligence doesn’t stop with children. It continues with the dogs. Because the cats are more “independent” in their nature, the dependence dogs have on their owners is almost synonymous to children and their mothers. Happily, as my boys grow into adolescence and on to adulthood, I have our four-legged friends to keep life happening. The boys are better attached than before Angel and Daisy.

Even though my boys are becoming more independent, my diligence in character and discipline continues. Now it extends beyond three boys to include two females. While working hard to form good citizens, I am working to form well-mannered pups. The continuity of parenting children and pups seems synonymous. Thankfully, practice makes perfect.

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Nurses

I’m thankful for many of the individuals who accepted the position of caring for my Lucho. While he is endearing, lovable and playful, his antics frustrate the most patient person on the planet. Even though he has a traumatic brain injury, he isn’t slow by any means. His grasp can swoop in and carry the least suspecting object with a reach that over-extends to lengths like Inspector Gadget. A cup or bowl perceived as out-of-reach becomes airborne within seconds of a blinking eye.

He gathers more speed and direction with each day and progresses in his therapies. I watch as he throws each bean bag with unyielding accuracy while the swing moves back and forth, then side to side. It amazes me how he performs so spontaneously. This spontaneity makes him so much fun, yet so disarming. It’s easy to fall into his playful antics and let your guard down, only to find you are scrambling to save him from a fall. The sudden sound of “scuh-thump” causing me to visually pinpoint where he is as instantly as the “scuh” sound reaches my ears. Then, there he is sitting on the floor with bewilderment as he looks to his right then to his left and wonder how he moved and what did he do.

His Nystagmus prevents him from having good depth perception. He has difficulty knowing where something is because it seems to move on him. Then the distance of the objects are not as they appear. Not only do they seem to move, but the drop from the table seems to baffle him. How did his toys suddenly drop out of sight? How did the floor come up to greet him so quickly? This condition combined with his traumatic brain injury and epilepsy make for a hodgepodge of challenges unseen until the effects have already hit.

Nurses face hidden challenges with Lucho. I’ve heard nurses say, “You never know with him. He is always full of surprises.” Often times, and now more often, the nurses are surprised at my lack of response or astonishment at the speed in which events can turn with him. I’ve had nine years of his unpredictable behavior. I’ve become somewhat desensitized. However, this is not the case for the many nurses who come into our house never knowing what adventure lies waiting for them with Lucho’s care.

Thankfully, most have a good sense of humor. Others have none. Unfortunately, they suffer. While feeding him, they sit on his right with the intent to prevent any food from flying. He eats with his right hand. This hand is more dominant due to the injury.  Not having a faster reflex than Lucho, they wear the oatmeal or the apple juice despite their positive intents. Because of this, the nurses who enjoy the adventure which awaits within my home each day, request that they keep some uniforms stored in his room’ just in case. That’s the way good caregivers and nurses approach Lucho.

There’s a saying prevention is nine tenths of safety. I try to teach the new nurses that strategy is necessary when caring for him. I can only model my strategies. Everyone has different forms of strategy, however, the experienced individuals manage to anticipate his actions of spontaneity better. These are the nurses who stay at least one year. These are the caregivers closest to my heart. I am so thankful for their endurance and sense of adventure.