38: Frenzied

38: Frenzied

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Multitasking Mom's Survival Guide


Cats can work out mathematically the exact place to sit that will cause most inconvenience.

~Pam Brown

I had four kids in six years. My last child was born on the eldest child’s sixth birthday. At the same time, I had a cat that reproduced twice. Because of the kids’ relentless whining and begging, we kept the kittens. When they grew up, I had them spayed before they followed in their mama’s wanton footsteps. Our family also included an oversized Golden Retriever that never hurt the cats but enjoyed chasing them. He’d bounce around them, unnerving them until they swatted his nose with their outstretched claws. Often, our cats scrambled atop the cars to escape him.

Because my multitasking efforts paled in comparison to my friends, my boys were habitually late to Little League. Frequently, I had to plead with one coach to get him to play my oldest son, who would rather pick dandelions than catch a fly ball. One afternoon, with cleats in hand and two boys semi-dressed in their baseball uniforms, plus a four-year-old fellow clinging to my dress, I scurried out the door.

“Come on. Pile in, kids,” I ordered the troops. Then I raced back to fetch my baby girl, tote her to our van, and strap her in her car seat as she sucked on the multicolored plastic keys that had just fallen on the garage floor. “Lace up each other’s shoes,” I instructed my players. I commandeered our truck-sized recreational vehicle out of the dark carport into the blazing sun.

“Can we play Nintendo?” my seven-year-old asked.


“Can we watch TV?” my six-year-old asked.

“Those devices are for long trips, boys! We’re just going to the baseball park ten minutes away. Remember? Got your mitts? Gloves? Caps?”

I heard them fidgeting with the knobs to the entertainment console as I was racing down the hill and over the bumps.

“Wheee!” they yelled in unison as they popped up out of their seats.

All of a sudden, I heard a mad honking behind me. I glanced in the rearview mirror. A neighbor was banging his steering wheel in agitation. He was throwing up his hands and gesticulating wildly out the window. I figured he thought I was a reckless driver so I slowed down. Yet, he was still banging the horn with the heel of his hand.

“What does crazy Mr. Reed want?” I asked aloud.

The kids all swiveled around to look. Now Mr. Reed was trying to pass me on the narrow two-lane street, while he was yelling at me and signaling for me to stop.

I couldn’t. My oldest’s Little League coach had threatened to replace him if we were late one more time. I kept going. The dang fool behind me accelerated past me. With mouth agape, I looked to the side as if to say: “Have you lost your mind?” His pointer finger made circles as he gestured for me to roll down my window. When he paralleled my van, I finally put down the window. I worried that the guy was slated for a head-on collision.

“Stop your car!” he yelled.

“What?” I mouthed.

“STOP your car!” he screamed and pointed upward.

And then I saw them. Two sets of clinging paws protruded over the roof onto my windshield. I pulled over. Mr. Reed halted in front of me. I stopped short. I was lucky nothing tumbled off. I jumped out, hustled to the back of the van and climbed the ladder to the roof. My uniformed sons trailed behind me.

Sunshine, our cat, and her grown offspring stood wide-eyed with tails in the air. The three looked shaken as if they knew they’d lost a few of their nine lives. I grabbed the cats and handed them down to my two older boys, who carried the mewing cats inside the van.

“Thank you, Mr. Reed,” I said breathlessly.

“That was quite the rollercoaster ride your cats got,” he said. “What’s your hurry?”

I glanced back at the van with smiling kids and curious cats peering out the windows. All were happy and safe.

“Nothing. Nothing that’s really important.” I turned the van around and headed home with my cargo. Baseball could wait.

~Erika Hoffman

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