My friend gave me a rather silly nickname of “Peter Cotton Nips.” The aforementioned portion of this affectionate title comes from a pair of bedroom slippers that I wear that my friend calls my “bunnies” due to the strangely placed lining on the exterior heel that serves no purpose but to aesthetically appear as a rabbits tail. Strange, I know. The latter comes from an experience I had related to my friend recently.
I finally gave in to my wife’s begging and surprised her with a kitten this past summer for our anniversary. He had been abandoned and left in the garage of my coworker at only two or three weeks old. He was so small and was not weaned from his mother—an orphan with neither his natural mother nor an adoptive human one. I took him. I had him to myself for almost a week prior to giving him to Charley as she was out of town for her work. I would hold him while in bed at night, and he would “nurse” on my cotton tees as though it would serve as a surrogate both for those parts I do not have and a mother he did not. Well, I became “Peter Cotton Nips” and a cat owner to boot.
I have grown affectionate with Scout, and as a “father” to this growing kitten. He still “nurses” on both Charley’s and my shirts before he goes to sleep. I would presume this is more for comfort and a sense of security than any real nourishment, as cotton does not usually produce cat’s milk. Why would he continue with no actual benefit? My guess is that he is looking for the connection he would have gotten if he had not been abandoned from a healthy and whole feline family. It does not surprise me. I see this in my counseling practice all the time. Children and adults alike are looking for this security, identity, and love, which has been denied to them left in the metaphorical garage of broken families, friendships, or a depraved society. Alone and naked, they try suckling at the false hopes of all sorts of empty roads that lead nowhere. Try as they might; they never get milk from cotton tees. Yet, every day they try to distract from the reality of an empty garage.
I could let the metaphor end drawing the line dividing those who are in faithful practice and those who are not; however, the truth is I am an orphan. I have left the comfort of my family and found myself abandoned in a world that seems full of cotton tees and nothing of substantial nurturance. The discrepancy I have with many of my clients is that, in my orphanhood, I have found an adoptive home. My adoptive Father is one who can offer more than my t-shirt does to Scout. He calls me into relationship that roots itself deeper than I could perceive on my own and gives me identify, connection, and love more fully into my personhood. I am remade to fit the family line and the family name. In this, I call Scout my brother—in that we share a remaking of our family; and God whispers to me as Charley and I do to Scout that “We make you whole; we are your real family.”
*Photo Credit: to Rhonda C. Bohart Photography