As a mum and housewife, I go about my daily tasks, tedious, repetitive and tiresome. I can think of no rational reason why a child should observe his mother during this period of time but he does. He is draped across the kitchen counter, his eyes follow me. Now, would be the perfect time for a casual mother son conversation, but I shun this opportunity. If I talk to him I am likely to break the spell and provoke a meltdown. I turn my attention to the cats and chat to them, the way you do. He sidles up closer to me,
to drape himself on the door jam for support.
“You are talking to dem?”
“You can talk 'cat'?”
“Not really. It's a bit like babies, they don't understand your words, but you talk to them anyway.”
“They can understand your words?”
“Not really. It's the same as if you were talking a foreign language, Chinese or Portuguese perhaps. You don't understand the words but you can understand the sound of the words, if they're kind and friendly, or angry and mean.”
“I talk to dem.”
“I know.” He talks more to the cats than to anyone or anything else, not that I'm jealous of course.
“They are understanding me?”
“Oh yes! Very much so.”
“I fink maybe dah cats are more cleverer dan dah humans are.”
“You may very well be right about that.” We sprawl on the kitchen floor together, alternately stroking a cat apiece. He is careful to count the strokes, take a note of whose hands are on which cat, so that any errors can be corrected to ensure that each cat is psychologically assured of the equality of the bond of affection between them.
“I fink dey are dah clever ones because they can understand us but we cant understand dem so very good.”