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The Joy of Young Animals

Good thing I thrive on chaos because we've got plenty.

About a year ago, I was hanging clothes on a drying rack because we’re trying to save the Earth. While I contemplatively arranged damp socks, underwear and T-shirts on the rack, Iris, our then half grown cat, raced across the dining room into the kitchen and bounded into that sucker like Olga Korbut (or Dominique Dawes—pick your generation).

She did a handspring off one thin bar, leapt off it onto another, landed, did a pike 1-1/2 flip with one twist and landed on the top bar, rocked a few times and plunged running down into the hanging clothes. Soon, her head popped out between two once-white socks and looked at me with her usual expression of attentiveness mixed with confusion.

I jest, of course, about the pike 1-1/2 flip but the rest is pretty accurate and she’s repeated the performance or given a new one pretty much anytime somebody uses the drying rack. (You can imagine that a large percentage of the clothes end up in a heap under the rack and do not, in fact, dry.)

I toyed with putting the show on YouTube but who wants their underwear on YouTube?

Iris’ reaction to an ordinary act—hanging clothes—pretty much typifies what goes on at our house. I, an ordinary working person strive to bring order from chaos, while the young animals—Son, Daughter and Iris—do their best to thwart me.

For example, when son was about age 2, we went on a long-ish trip to Grandma’s in Minnesota. We had an early flight, and I tidied the house thoroughly the night before. When we returned, I collapsed on the sofa in a pristine living room while Son toddled around reaquainting himself with the house.

He went into the dining room, where I had meticulously sorted his toys into those tidy bins that loonies like Martha Stewart think parents should have. I heard him say quietly to himself, “I need.... I need... I need... a mess.”

And I listened with exhausted horror as he dumped every single bin onto the floor of the dining room so he could play his favorite game—garbage man.

Daughter is less of a clutterbug, and taunts Son with his hoarding and mess.

Recently, she has taken to saying mockingly, “I’m going to the store!”

She then slides under his bed and brings up random items, holding them aloft with her thin brown arm. “Who needs a small tube of toothpaste?” “Who wants a water glass?” And, one day, “Look! My keys!"

This next story happened to someone I barely know but heard about from a friend. A perfectly nice family walked into their kitchen one evening and found a young possum nosing around, possibly looking for the cat’s food.

The young possum, alarmed at the appearance of large, loud potential predators (people), raced to a corner and hid its face behind a medium-sized surge protector. The rest of its small body, of course, was perfectly visible but this guy hadn’t yet mastered peek-a-boo so he felt safe.

It’s kind of like how teenagers view the neighbors when they decide to have a beer bust. They can’t see you in your house so it never occurs to them that you will call the cops and have it broken up.

I pity those people in perfect houses with no messes, no dust and no annoying children singing annoying songs when they really should be getting dressed for school. A good dose of chaos really is more fun.

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