The grass is always greener on the second floor,
…the beds are always softer,
…the toys are always plusher.
At least that’s what I imagine Pettigrew thinks. Or perhaps it’s just a case of forbidden fruit: because he isn’t allowed on the second floor, that’s where he wants to be most of all.
We keep a baby gate casually leaning across the bottom of the steps to the second floor. If Pettigrew wanted to, he could easily knock the gate down and go upstairs. The rest of us accidentally send the gate crashing to the floor at least a few times a day. Too lazy to move the gate, hands too full, or wanting to spring over it and land with a thud in the center hall, we sometimes misjudge the clearance.
But Pettigrew never touches it. He respects the gate.
That doesn’t mean that he has given up on attaining the second floor.
If the gate is removed from the stairs and not put back, Pettigrew is sure to seize the opportunity. Not that I necessarily find him upstairs. He tries to avoid making his forays when we are home. But like a child who wonders how you know that he just ate chocolate (how do you always know!), Pettigrew leaves telltale signs.
There’s the indentation in the middle of a bed, just the size of a curled up dog.
The overturned garbage in the bathroom.
The stuffed animal abandoned in the hallway.
But Pettigrew, ensconced on the downstairs sofa, is all innocence. When I confront him, his eyes say it all.
“Gate, what gate? Oh, that gate? No, I had no idea that it wasn’t across the stairs. Fancy that. Oh well, a missed opportunity. I’ve been sleeping here on the sofa the whole time you were out.”
Of course, there are times when the gate is in place, but not fully blocking the stairs. Pettigrew seems to see this relatively speaking “open door” as an invitation.
Warm and toasty under the covers, my body drifting toward sleep, “click, click, click, click,” I hear; the unmistakable sound of Pettigrew’s claws on the hardwood stairs.
I greet him in the upstairs hallway. He has excellent sangfroid. With not a twitch of an ear or tail does he show remorse or surprise.
“Well, yes,” I imagine him saying as hiss brown eyes gaze up into mine, “I was just checking on everyone. Excuse me please,” he adds as he edges by me into one of the boys’ bedrooms.
I reach for his collar and direct him back down the stairs. There’s a problem. He gazes transfixed at the gate partially blocking the bottom of the stairs. No memory remains of how he successfully slunk past moments before on his way up. Now it’s all shock and dismay, “I couldn’t possibly go down there, there’s a gate blocking my path!”
So I pad down the stairs with him, remove the gate, and send him on his way.
I would like to say that we are perfectly consistent about enforcing the no access to the second floor rule, but I would be lying. During thunderstorms when the downstairs bathroom just isn’t enough security Stormy Weather’s Coming, I have been known to bring him upstairs to ride out the storm in our room. He even joined us a few times when I used to read to the boys.
Now that he knows what wonders await over his head, he is always on the alert to revisit that promised land.
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9 thoughts on “The Grass is Always Greener on the Second Floor”
Ruth, this is just so marvelous! I’m sorry I can’t prevail with the comment poster but you can post these comments of mine if you can do it. The voice is perfect, the content, just so dear, well said, endearing, both narrator and dear Pettigrew. A warm, slow internal smile, that is so feel good, and so intelligent, smart, loving, really up to being a memoir collection. Helena
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I don’t know why this post has me grinning, but it does. Thanks for putting a smile in my day!
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What a wonderful story. Pettigrew is so lucky to have you for a friend.
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