Tuesday, April 07, 2009

I'll always remember: Kit Cat

In the spirit of my last post . . .

This is a really hazy memory. I was very little--probably three years old? If not, maybe even younger.  I was able to walk, so I wasn't an infant or just crawling, but I was very, very little.

Mom loves this story, so it's hard to separate out my actual memories from her version. But I'm going to try:

I can see the store we were at in my memory. Either a Hallmark store, or if not then it may as well have been because it looked just like it. It was dark inside; we were way in the back, away from the store-front windows, I guess. The store was one of those really narrow ones that is part of a strip mall. The cashier had a free-standing counter with a cash register, like a pulpit. Today I couldn't pick her out of a line-up, but in my mind I can see her standing there. And all around the store, there were glass shelves with knick-knacks. And display shelves in front of the cashier.  A small child's paradise.

That's what I remember, more or less vividly. And somewhere in the store, I found Kit Cat, a little white stuffed cat sitting on her haunches. She wasn't very cat-like (that is to say, she almost looked like a Hello Kitty; not a realistic-looking cat). I don't recall if Mom was shopping and I found her right away and carried her around the store, or if I just found her right as we were getting ready to check out. My memories of time passage are completely distorted. At any rate, according to Mom, I christened her Kit Cat as soon as I laid my eyes on her. And she wasn't like a Cabbage Patch Kid that came with a name; I named her myself, right there in the store.

Like any Good Mom, she told me to put her back so we could check out and leave. Oh, how I cried! I threw a major, full-force three-year-old temper tantrum. I don't remember actually saying anything--what three-year-old ever "uses their words" (or even, say, a 15-year-old)? Even had I been capable of explaining matters to Mom, the thought of leaving Kit Cat in the store left me so miserable and too heartsick to verbalize my anguish. What I did know: Kit Cat was my friend! How could Mom ask such a thing as for me to leave her behind?! I was completely aghast, if three-year-olds can feel such an emotion. She may as well have asked me to leave my arm or a leg in the store. Even if I would have had my adult-ability of using my words, still I would only have laughed at such a ridiculous thought as leaving Kit Cat, a part of my soul, in that store.

I don't remember throwing the tantrum on purpose to get my way. I'd even say I didn't. But the more I carried on, the more embarrassed (and undoubtedly angry) Mom got. Now as an adult, I can imagine what she must have been thinking: Good grief, child! It's a dumb stuffed animal! She didn't say it, of course.

She didn't want to give in though. I remember her firmness with certainty. Kit Cat wasn't just a stuffed animal to me, which Mom soon figured out by the tears and wails and quivering chin. I was so wretched from the thought of leaving Kit Cat behind, as I clutched her to my little-kid chest I think Mom's heart broke a little bit too.

She did end up buying her for me.

I'm sure it wasn't about the money to Mom; Kit Cat couldn't have cost more than a few dollars. But she didn't want to give in to me every time I cried, either. But you know, even then, so little, I knew that. I consciously knew crying to get my way would not work. Ha, depending on who you talk to, there may be cause to doubt that, because as a kid I would try crying to get my way all the time. But on that day at the Hallmark at least, that wasn't it. I was not crying to get Mom to buy Kit Cat for me.  I was not crying to get my way.

I was grief-stricken, wholly devastated.  Lost.

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