Amy Roberts: Never underestimate the memory of a cat kid
I’ve never been big on birthdays; the celebrations and fuss are a bit lost on me. Given that I came into this world just a few days before Christmas and I’m a middle child, my nonchalance was probably born into me. When your birthday is in December and your name isn’t Jesus, no one gets too excited about it. And when you’re a middle child, chances are you have considered the merits of being trapped in a well, just to see if anyone would notice.
But there is one birthday I do mark on my calendar every year. I buy a carefully selected gift, wrap it with love, and sing “Happy birthday to you” like a fool. At least since 2014 I’ve done this.
My niece, Addison, turned five on Oct. 1, and like the other four years prior to this one, I made sure she knew she wasn’t overlooked.
Not that that’s likely. She’s an only child and my sister is a single mother. There are no siblings or even first cousins for her to contend with. Addison and my sister live about a mile from my parents — that kid never wants for attention. When my younger sister passed away a few years ago, I was left as the only aunt. Since Addison is my only niece, and I am her only aunt, it is fair to say neither of us have much competition in the favorites department. But I still tend to compete for it. I chalk it up to long-term care planning. After all, she’s putting me in a nursing home one day. It’s in my best interest for her to like me.
When my parents or sister tell her “no,” she will take one of their phones and call me. I think she understood how to use an iPhone before she understood how to use a toilet. She loves to FaceTime with me so I can watch her plead her case in real time. I’ll give her this — she can be pretty convincing.
She’s been begging for a cat for more than half her life. I’m not sure why she’s so fixated on felines; in my family, we are dog people. But for roughly three years she has told me she wants a white cat and she wants to name it Snowflake. I assumed it was a phase and she’d forget, so I told her she could have one when she turned five.
She also wanted a reindeer named Coconut and a purple mouse at one time — both were short-lived obsessions. I figured the desire for a cat would be, too. But it wasn’t, and now she’s five. And that kid has a terrifyingly accurate memory.
“Remember, Aunt Amy, you told me when I’m five I can have a kitty,” she recalled to me via FaceTime a few weeks ago.
“I think I said you could have one when you’re eight,” I offered, in hopes I could swindle a preschooler.
She shook her head with conviction and I swear, I think she consulted a yellow legal pad with notes before she responded.
“No. You told me when I’m five. I remember. You said it in Park City and when you came to Omaha to visit me and when we went to Turks and Caicos.”
She went on, citing evidence I’d forgotten about, but it all did sound vaguely familiar. Apparently, I made this promise at the grocery store while getting bananas, over the phone, in front of my friend Cathy (who Addison volunteered to call in as a witness), while we were swimming in the ocean, and at least twice on a flight to Finland. She even told me what I was wearing on two of the occasions.
Thanks to her memory, or perhaps my underestimation of her memory, there’s a white cat in her very near future. My sister isn’t happy about it. I assume her dog feels the same.
But my niece is over-the-moon elated. Snowflake’s feelings about all of this are still to be determined. I’m just hoping the Humane Society is out of white cats for a little while longer.
Amy Roberts is a freelance writer, longtime Park City resident and the proud owner of two rescued Dalmatians, Stanley and Willis. Follow her on Twitter @amycroberts.
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