herding cats

Sometimes getting more than two people moving in the same direction at the same time can be like herding cats.  Just about the time you think you have everything under control, one of the little buggers will break rank, sending everyone in different directions.  I spent over 25 years as the official “Cat Herder” of the Allen family.  Every family has one.  They are identified by the shrill voice commanding everyone in the house to

“Go make potty before we leave”

“This is the 5-minute warning before we leave”

“Get in the car”

They are also identified by the fact that they are the first person accosted at each and every family gathering with the question, “Where have you been?”

Life has moved on for me.  Since I am no longer the keeper of little kids, I no longer should be in charge of asking who needs to use the bathroom before we leave; my days of standing by the back door bellowing into the house “we’re leaving” should be long gone.  I should be at a phase in my life where when getting ready to leave the house all I should have to do is make sure I am satisfied in the potty department, determine if I need a wrap, find my purse and phone and then calmly, quietly, with no drama, slip comfortably into the front seat of the car in plenty of time to reach my destination on time.  At this stage of my life, I should have retired my official “Cat Herder” badge.

But life is not always so thoughtful.  I am now the guardian of two octogenarians, one with Alzheimer’s and the other with a hearing aid. Before any outing, I always make sure that the one that doesn’t know he’s going anywhere runs to the little boy’s room.  I have learned over the past 3 years that my mother-in-law needs a 10-minute warning, not a 5-minute warning because she will start “putting on her face ” and changing the battery in her hearing aid right when I start bellowing that it’s time to get in the car.

This last weekend we celebrated Mom and David’s birthdays.  For several days I did the “Cat Herder” dance, making phone calls and sending out text messages attempting to corral my little kittens into one restaurant at one time.  During one phone conversation with my brother, he said to me, “Is it 5:00 real time or is that Allen time?”  I assured Wayne we would be on time.  When it came time to get ready to leave, I put out the 10-minute warning and sent Paul off to the washroom.  Things were running like clockwork.  Then it ground to a halt.  My in-laws did not come out of their room forever.  David politely knocked on the door and told them we needed to get going.  Mom said she was putting on her face.  We waited and tick tock, tick tock, my dream of arriving on time evaporated into the nightmare of me standing by the back door, as usual, bellowing into the house “Get in the car, we are leaving right now.”  As I walked into the restaurant and saw the whole family sitting there waiting for us looking at me with their “I knew you would be late looks” I realized; I am still the official Allen family “Cat Herder.”

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