Sometimes it strikes me just how differently Nolan and I perceive a situation.
This weekend’s adventure gave me a couple of very clear examples of that.
And no, it wasn’t the kind of adventure we usually take… With the current social distancing practices happening, I’m doing my best to limit Nolan’s time in public places. Let’s face it-- he’s a kid who plays with spit and likes to introduce himself to strangers by putting his nose approximately 3.649874256 inches away from their nose. Social distancing gets a little challenging for us.
But I did have a few things to accomplish, so we hit the road.
First we needed to deliver some Mother’s Day shirts I’d made to someone about 25 minutes north of us. As always, I picked the wrong maps app on my phone and got the strangest route imaginable, which made our trip a little longer than it needed to be…
But we did stop in a small town gas station for a bathroom break before we delivered the shirts. Nolan had gotten agitated in the car, and I managed to convince him to let me know what he needed on his iPad. So I knew the bathroom was the key to his happiness.
So we stopped at a place we’ve stopped many times. This gas station happens to also house a laundromat, and we typically go in through the laundromat doors-- they’re closest to the bathroom. After Nolan had finished in the bathroom, we visited the convenience store before heading out. The cashier recognized Nolan, and (as always) offered him a friendly greeting.
He was happy in the store--walking to the cooler with his favorite drinks, spinning in circles and playing with his beads. He didn’t have a care in the world.
Meanwhile, I’m hovering less than a foot behind him and verbally coaching the whole time… “Good job buddy. Stay with me. Okay, but we have to keep moving…” My goal was to keep our visit as brief as possible and our exposure to other customers (or rather their exposure to us?) as brief as possible.
In other words he was blissed out, and I was stressed out.
After we’d dropped the shirts off, we needed to pick up some meat I’d ordered from a local farm. It happened to be about 35 minutes on the other side of home, so we had a bit of a drive to get there. That’s usually the opposite of a problem for us, though.
We stopped for a bathroom break along the way, because by now we were coming due… And of course, I was still using the not-so-good app for directions, so I doubt we were on the fastest route. Seriously… I’m fairly certain some of the roads we used were old logging roads that someone eventually just paved and named.
When we finally got to Wehling Farms & Country Store, Nolan was getting anxious again. Of course, sometimes new places cause a little bit (or a lot) of anxiety for him anyway.
And did I mention this was a farm? Like, an actual, working, fully-functioning, “Oh look- cattle!”, agriculturally productive farm? Yes. And Nolan is terrified of anything with four legs, right? Again, yes. Let’s just say he was a little tense.
They have a store on site where they have locally grown and processed meat and cheese available along with gifts, crafts and other locally-made foods. He was reluctant to go into a new and strange building as he often is, but once he determined there were no dogs, he went right in. Some time when Nolan is less antsy I hope to take him back to shop again, but since his patience was wearing thin I did my best to get out of there as quickly as possible.
That’s about the time he made it clear that he needed to use the bathroom again. I hadn’t seen a bathroom in the building we had been in, and I wasn’t going to go back inside to ask if there was one we could use (I assumed, based on the layout, that it might be in a different building, and then we’re on dog watch again...)
I knew we were just a few miles from the closest town, so I told him that we needed to get back in the car and leave before we could use the bathroom. It felt like the scenario least likely to involve a major meltdown.
This was the exact moment when the cats discovered us.
Of course, I got excited to have roughly a half dozen cats approaching all at once. I wanted to get in that pile of dusty farm kitties and just roll around. They were friendly and sweet, and I’m a cat lady-- it’s what I do.
Of course I made friends with an orange kitty...
Nolan, of course, was not happy to have so many animals moving in our general direction. It occurred to me as they all started moving toward us that this was probably like a scene from Night of the Living Dead to him… They sort of ambled toward us each at their own pace, and they seemed to come from everywhere all at once. Plus compared to our huge house cats, these kitties seemed almost gaunt (for the record they were perfectly healthy-- we’re just used to pudgy cats rather than cats who are lean from activity).
So this time Nolan was terrified while I was in heaven.
Obviously I didn’t torture him for any longer than was necessary despite my desire to pet ALL THE KITTIES. He was a bit afraid to get back into the car since the cats were now closer to the car than to him. But once I convinced him that the car was our escape pod, he jumped right in.
A potty stop and change of clothes later (we didn’t make it in time…), and we were on our way home.
It makes me wonder what else we see differently that I haven’t noticed. Are there things he’s afraid of that I haven’t figured out yet? Is he being deprived of the joy he finds in little things just because it isn’t on my radar? I think I definitely need to keep my eyes open...