Bringing a new young kittenish feline into a home that already had two fully-grown self-possessed cats, we followed the careful guidelines for introduction.
It was fascinating to watch how all involved navigated the situation.
The new cat, Nougat, was eager to make friends. But she learned very quickly that she must go slowly and carefully. The sheer difference in size necessitated thoughtfulness, and she is one smart kitty.
I noted how, when she needed to reach her food bowl or navigate to the other side of the room past the others, she moved in impossibly slow motion as to not trigger the big ones’ hunter/prey chase response. One such chase and one large claw making contact with her fur taught her this lesson.
She also does her best to avoid passing below uninspectable surfaces, where someone can pounce on her. She appears calm and contented with the others present only if she has a good escape route and sees us, her human protectors, from the corner of her eye.
This got me thinking about how it feels to be little, which got me thinking about writing for newer, smaller people—i.e. children.
Because this is pretty much how children feel all the time.
There are many kid-characters in books who are spunky, powerful, save humanity, and speak up when others don’t. I think these are inauthentic kids. They may serve some fantasies of grownups who wished they had done something back when, but these stories reek of falseness.
When “keeping the child in view,” as Dickens wrote, a good refresher would be to watch a kitten making her way into an established group of bigger guys who know their way around.
Go, Nougat. You can do it, girl.