When Abby turned two, we moved to a small island in the West Indies. We traded all that was familiar for something new. Although Abby was barely potty trained when we left, this transition to a completely new life meant that potty training “came undone” as well.
At that age, Abby loved cats and all things cats. She had a stuffed kitty that she got at 9 months old that had become her “special thing”. She was basically the only one of our children to ever have a genuinely special cuddle item, and it became her familiar and safe part of life when we carted our family around between Peru, the US, and then St. Vincent. Kitty went everywhere at early ages and then transitioned to just nap time or bedtime.
I had to get pretty creative with a ton of things living on the island, and potty training was no exception. I tried hard to think of a potty training incentive. There weren’t many good options. One day when we were in town, I noticed a clear bag of a dozen or so plastic cats in the toy section. The toy section at a store on the island was sort of like the toy section at a gas station or hotel gift shop, only with more poorly made items. This bag of plastic cats was only about $3, which was an incredible price for anything on the island. They were the size of the little animals you can buy in the US that come in a clear plastic tube, but they were much uglier. They were mostly the ugliest cats imaginable. (Photo for proof.) But they were the perfect potty training item. Each successful day of potty training, Abby would receive a new kitty at the end of the day. She had a little zippered pencil pouch that she proudly kept her kitties in. She would take them all out, sort them, and line them up. She was very excited to get a new one, even when there started to be duplicates, so it worked.
I’ve kept this one last lonely, ugly kitty on the shelf in my room for over 11 years now. It reminds me of a different season of life. It reminds me of the vibrant little 2-year-old with sparkly eyes. It reminds me to improvise, and how easily you can make something out of nothing or something amazing out of something ordinary.
This ugly cat is a strange thing to keep. What random item are you holding onto because of the memories associated with it?