"I hate you! I'm going to find another mummy. You'll be sorry when I'm gone! I hope you cry for a million years and infinity!" Small feet thunder down the corridor and a door slams, an enraged wail emenates from the bedroom.
This was the Small(er) One's response to being chided for trying to pull one of the kittens out from under the sofa by its tail. A similar response was evoked when she was told off for playing tug-of-war with her sister - the object in the middle being our very cross Mama cat. Now the ginger kitten starts to tremble when he hears the Small(er) One's dulcet tones, while the black kitten hides and Mama cat looks for the nearest exit.
Alpha and I thought having pets would be good for the children - you know, teach them about being gentle and respectful of animals. Pah. The kids treat the cats like toys, albeit more interesting versions that can be chased and captured.
Thankfully for the kids these are incredibly tolerant cats. They only resort to scratching in the most desperate of circumstances and usually bear their ritual humilations with weary resignation. Personally, I would have bitten both of my children.
The problem is that they love the cats too much. The sheer excitement generated by the love bursting from their little hearts simply takes over. They forget that the kittens are tiny, that they don't like having their ears shouted into, their claws examined, being stroked and held against their will. However many times I sit down and talk to them about this, threaten dire punishments, add sad faces to their behaviour charts and however many times they agree and promise to be more gentle, to leave the cats alone - all the words of wisdom melt away when confronted with irristible tiny pink kitten noses and fluffy kitten tails.
I thought that the cats would be a nuisance - kittens are well known for thrashing houses and running up curtains. Little did I know that it would be the kids who'd be the problem.
I need a solution before I go nuts. Should I get rid of the cats... or the kids?