She starts by climbing up onto my night-table. It’s an antique pedestal style table with a bit of a wobble to it. The cat’s spring on and off the edges of the table has, of late, added to the wobble. I’m going to have to get creative with wood glue soon. She inspects last night’s tea mug to see if I have abandoned a trace of liquid in which she can dip a paw. She burrows into the tissue box. She might opt to send a magazine or two over the edge.
Then she hops to the book case, where she pauses to swat at the pictures hanging on the wall. If I wasn’t awake before, the threat of my artwork crashing to the floor does it. I hiss a warning at her and she steps over to the dresser-top, where she does a little dance on all the important papers waiting to be filed and takes a bite out of an envelope of theatre tickets.
Eventually I have to give up and get out of bed. I have been told in no uncertain terms that it is time for one member of the household to be served breakfast, regardless of the silly notions the rest of us might have about sleeping in.
We have wryly nicknamed her “Helpful Cat.” If you spread out papers on the table to do your homework, Helpful Cat will assist by sitting strategically on the one paper to which you must to pay attention at this precise moment. If you set a box on the floor and turn around to get the things that you are planning to put in the box, by the time you turn back the box will be full of Helpful Cat, helpfully inspecting the interior for you. Helpful Cat is always volunteering to taste whatever we are eating. Helpful Cat spares no effort in routinely checking the contents of the waste-baskets to ensure that we have not inadvertently discarded something really important.
Helpful Cat is very independent when it comes to finding productive ways to spend her time. No fancy cat toys needed for her, as long as there is an unsupervised hair elastic or toilet paper roll nearby.
My mind works in strange ways sometimes. I was mentally composing a silly little post about Helpful Cat, when I came across both today’s Daily Prompt and a thought provoking post by Ziya Tamesis at A Day With Depression. All of a sudden I saw the nickname in a new light.
How often am I like Helpful Cat– offering “assistance” that is really just interference? When my kids were little I was forever breaking up fights that involved one child raging over something the other had done, while the alleged perpetrator offered up the iron-clad defense that they were “just trying to help.” I remember explaining over and over again that it didn’t count as “help” if it wasn’t what the other person wanted.
I need to remind myself of that lesson from time to time. I need to remember that when I think that someone I love needs help, I need to stop and ask them what would be helpful. I need to resist the temptation to leap in with solutions that are based entirely on my own perspective. I need to stop jumping into boxes and tearing up toilet paper when I should just be listening.