Monday, July 15, 2013
I used to live in a houseful of people with two cats who lived upstairs and two cats who lived downstairs (none of them were MY kitty, but I got all the cuddle and purr perks of cat ownership without the disadvantages of cleaning litterboxes and cat vomit) with a group of misfits who managed to be overeducated and kind of clueless about most things all of the time.
One of my roommates came home talking about how we praise children of different genders in different ways. Boys get praised for being good at athletics (nice kick, Jimmy!), being well-behaved (you're so polite, Bobby!), and creative (that's a great story, Tommy!) - so they get praised for things they DO. Girls get praised for being pretty (your red hair shines in the sun, Katie!) and their intelligence (you're so smart, Susie) - so they get praised for things they ARE.
And we noticed that we did exactly this with the upstairs cats in our house. We'd always tell the girl cat she was pretty and smart. We'd always tell the boy cat he was good at making dangerous leaps and, not as frequently, when he was actually behaving. So we started to make a point of telling the girl cat she was creative at solving cat-problems and agile when leaping over the furniture and we tried to tell the boy cat he was handsome.
All we ever tell Zelda is that she is naughty or pretty. I think we need to work on this.