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You can only avoid things for so long...

As a verified and authenticated Mad Cat Lady, I can tell you with confidence that cats love hierarchy. Rather like human people, cats like to know where they stand and, more importantly, who is above or below them in the pecking order (if you'll forgive the avian reference).

If you have only one or two cats, it's pretty simple to sort out who is in charge. Once you get a few, it becomes complicated and this is where cat politics come into play. (Bear with me, there is an aspiefied point to all this).

Dusty is a small cat with delicate feet and a pointy nose. On the inside, he is a great Caesar, with his troops arrayed before him. On the outside, he is still small, black and inoffensive. He took it upon himself to become top cat a few years ago, displacing Granny Miffy, a fearsome female with quick-draw-paws. Since then, he's had to keep up appearances.

He knows he has a responsibility to fend off other cats, to maintain his position, to be the leader and not the led. He sits in the garden, waiting for trouble and keeping an eye on things. As he is a small cat, he also tries to avoid trouble and would rather keep what's left of his ears, so when he sits in the garden, he faces the wrong way.

He pointedly directs himself to only look in the least busy direction, where hardly anyone ever comes. He sometimes changes position and looks at the second quietest place. Any number of cats have walked past him, unseen and unchallenged, as he focuses on the path of least resistance.

This has resulted in a lot of bother from other cats. It's only a matter of time before they notice they can do whatever they like and walk on by as if there is no one there. Only sometimes is Dusty forced to notice them and give chase.

Usually, Miffy has to dust off her spurs and go looking for trouble. Even in cat years she is getting on but no one can stand up to her for long. She's had to see off every tom in the district, while Dusty sits, staring at the back fence.

And the reason for inflicting cat stories on you? I was standing at the back door yesterday, thinking about everything I had to do before IT and RT teen go back to college and I go back to work properly. I have a mountain of washing, literally. I am now climbing to reach the washing machine and either need to wash more or install a hand rail as I nearly fell off last night.

IT teen has lots of work to finish for college, but is procrastinating (goodness knows where he gets that from) and RT teen is fully confident he has forgotten nothing for college, besides that white T-shirt I was meant to get him a fortnight ago for an Art project.

For me, I have people I need to get back to about work, I have parcels to send, I am now faced with all the housework I ignored for the fortnight of our Easter break. Amongst all this, my mother has had a big birthday, so there were things to organise for that, as well as days out and other jobs which threw routines out of the window and left me wondering what I was meant to do next.

So, what have I done about all this? Figuratively, I have looked at the back of the garden, while it all gathered behind me. When I was standing at the back door yesterday, I spotted Dusty in his favourite place, surrounded by tall grass, a nice bush coming into bud in front of him. Birds cheeped around and about and he was washing his ankle.

I realised then, that I have been doing a lot of the same thing. Insert me doing what I like, instead of doing what I need and my approach has been much the same. I have thoroughly enjoyed ignoring the things which needed my attention. I have spent all my time relaxing in my favourite spots, pretending not to hear or see anything awkward that needed to be dealt with. In metaphorical terms, I have done nothing but admire the view and wash my ankles for a fortnight.

Now, as things pick up pace and I can't ignore them any longer, my attention is forced back to what I should have been doing all along. It's no good just waiting and hoping your Granny Miffy will come along and sort them for you - even though this is often what grannies and other family members do. Sometimes, you have to shift yourself from that comfy patch and take action.

Dusty is still relevant even when he actually does act because unfortunately, in true aspie style, when he launches himself at the task in hand, he often comes in with another notch on his ear and the sound of Miffy cleaning up his mess while he hides in the kitchen.

I'm sure, like me, he decides it will be a long time before he does anything like that again and agrees with himself that sitting in the garden and washing his ankle is a much better plan than chasing scary things and trying to assert himself in the world.

Where this leaves me and other aspies, I don't know. We all have responsibilities we need to address, it's just a part of life But what if we come away with a sore ear and a dented ego? What incentive is there to try again?

Not much, frankly, except that we have little choice. If your Granny Miffy won't do it for you, you have to do it yourself and hope it turns out okay. It's not ideal to hide in plain sight and hope no one bothers you as they just end up either taking you for granted or ignoring you. As far as other people are concerned, if you aren't visible enough, you have no use or role in the world.

You don't necessarily have to be top of the heap, or even a dynamic and vital part of the mix. But you should try to do what you can, without spending too much time closeted away where you feel safe. Like Dusty in his garden, our safe places are often not what they seem and are more open and obvious to other people than we would like to think.

It's far better to risk the occasional look around and see if there is anything that needs your attention before it launches at you or eats all your birds. And you know, even if your Granny is a quick-draw-paw, wouldn't it be nice to let her take it easy once in a while?


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