by Schuyler Ballowe
In just 14 easy steps, you too can delude your mother into thinking she's good at kittens.
Step 1: Listen to her very traumatic tales about all of her cats from the moment you are born to the moment you die. You know, that one story about when her cat got run over and her grandparents were really sad and they thought she was going to be mad at them? Yeah, that one. Channel that cat grief, you’ll need it.
Step 2: Let your old mean cat die after your mother tries to euthanize it with pills hidden in eggs. She was really old and mean, so who really cares? She lived a good life, even if she bit and maimed you. But, disregard all of this. Act really, really sad about your cat's death and convince your mom that you will not be whole again until you have another cat.
Step 3: Make your mom take you to get some kittens. She assures you no females, but you watch as she falls in love with two small, grey, female balls of fluff. You do not really like these cats that much — there's a much cuter one hiding in the corner — but you must pretend so your mother can be happy.
Step 4: It's your turn to fall in love with the cats.
Step 5: Those two kittens grow up, get pregnant, and have two litters of kittens. Your mother says that she is not keeping any of them, and she knew she should have spayed those kittens.
Step 6: Let it rain, and let the downpour wash a small cat out from its protective hiding spot. Your outside dog will save its life and your mother will be convinced that you cannot split up this odd, mother-daughter duo. That's another female cat for you.
Step 7: Keep another cat. Or rather, don't alert anyone to its presence until it is too old to give away. That's another female cat. Name it after a city.
Read more: How to Get Really Good at Kittens
Step 8: Both cats get pregnant. Again. Nine kittens, all lovely. You must keep them for your mother's sake.
Step 9: Your mother will adamantly protest more cats. That's OK though, that's part of the plan. She will tell you all of the names she would have named her other children. This is a key point. Tell her that it's a perfect name for a cat, specifically the one that looks like it has been dipped in milk. She will agree. The cat has been christened, it cannot leave.
Step 10: Remind your mother of that other cat you had two months ago and how it disappeared. Tell her that you need another cat — you must fill your quota. She will not agree, but keep stating this until it becomes fact. Name your new cat something ridiculous.
Step 11: Your brother will want a cat, too. He will get it.
Step 12: Walk into your house with a small, orange cat on your shoulder. Announce that you've named it Babs, short for Kebab. Your mother will then read you something she wrote, a short guide on how to be good at kittens. You laugh, silently.
Step 13: She and your brothers leave. Go sit in the kitchen, you can hear the kittens mewing on the back porch, your dog sighs at you. Write a guide on how to make your mother think she's good at kittens.
Step 14: Your mother does not remember telling the story about her dead cat. That's fine, it means you've succeeded. Your mother is too preoccupied with the kittens to think about cats in the past. She is happy.
Schuyler Ballowe is utterly ridiculous and completely serious at the same time. Their passions include photography, writing, and the occasional rebellion or overthrowing of the nearest kierarchist society.