I’ve spent my life mothering cats, not children; however, I’ve always easily connected with kids. In my previous home the neighborhood kids often stopped by for a visit if I was in the front yard gardening or hanging with my cats. Maybe it’s my child-like exuberance, or the fact I had cats they could play with. For instance, one morning as I was getting ready to dash off to my paralegal job I heard the doorbell ring. I opened the front door to see a toddler holding a blanket and a couple five-year-olds who wanted to know if my cat Topper could come out to play. Topper was the neighborhood mascot and everyone adored him. He could often be found lounging by the community pool soaking up attention of sunbathers and swimmers.
I recently did a reading of Two Cats, a Mermaid and the Disappearing Moon at the Laguna Beach Boys & Girls Club to a group of preschoolers. It had been a while since I interacted with kids—I nervously wondered how I’d be received.
I got settled in and after the initial chatter of them telling me about their cats and how they also look at the full moon, I had them hooked by Chapter 3. The room was silent except for the sound of me reading. I looked up as I showed the illustration of Topper and Lexington meeting the barn owl in the canyon, and the kiddos were wide-eyed and fully engaged. My nervousness turned to joy.
This week I participated on a Career & College Day panel at Lowell Elementary School to speak about my unique career path to becoming an author and about my children’s book. Upon arrival I was ushered into a small auditorium by counselors, Eva and Maria who organized the event. I sat in a chair next to my fellow panelist, a flight attendant. As I looked across the room, I saw Leilani, the teacher who invited me to speak, waving a copy of my book, which she got so that she could read it to her students. Then in an organized fashion, in came the second and third graders who sat in neat rows on the floor before the stage. I was introduced by the principal and up to the stage I went before about 150 kiddos. I scanned the audience as I grinned and thanked them for having me. Several girls sported cat-ear headbands. The cat-ladies-in-training in the audience made me feel at home (along with the impeccable hospitality of the staff). But could I hold their attention?
Curious as kittens, the kiddos enthusiastically asked questions throughout my presentation. Many kids expressed their affection for felines, and a handful wanted to be writers. Some asked questions about my book, my cats, and several demanded that I write another book about the cat I have in my life now.
I’m still basking the afterglow of this remarkable experience. My heart is so full.
A big THANK YOU to Laguna Beach Boys & Girls Club and Lowell Elementary!