When last we left off, I was in the poop house, struggling to breathe and counting up the grand total of 14 cats and 5 dogs.
Like you, I was appalled by the number.
The mad rush of felines to the food bowl was astonishing, and not in a good way... (In case you hadn't figured it out already, nothing that happens in the poop house ever happens in a good way!) But with the sudden burst of activity in the home, the human residents all decided to come and and marvel at the fracas.
Martha had incited the feline riot. Mitch came staggering in next, and I'm only half convinced he wasn't after a little bit of that kibble for himself. It wouldn't have surprised me to find out that anyone in the house occasionally dined on the off-brand meow mix currently being served. Shortly after Mitch's arrival in the kitchen of feline horrors, a tornado blew in... And that tornado was named Millie.
So many of you want Millie to be a shiny, pristine little cutie in a frilly pink dress and braided pigtails... So many of you will be disappointed.
Millie wasn't really able to help the fact that she was a spitting image of her corpulent maternal genetic heritage. She was of average height for a five year old, pudgy - bordering on the brink of being a childhood obesity statistic. She had pale skin, which made it all the more obvious that she was not one to go and play outside, though the degree of paleness was difficult to determine due to the amount of filth all over her body... (The fact is that if you or I at age five had had a face one one hundredth as dirty as this poor soul, our mothers would have instantly pulled us over by the upper arm, licked a tissue and taken to bathing us using the universal solvent that is "mom spit." But then again, our mothers didn't raise us in poop houses, and wouldn't have the worries of encountering animal feces or contracting toxoplasmosis from the endeavor.) She was barefoot and wearing tattered second hand clothes. Looking at her little legs, it was blatantly obvious that she was covered in flea bites. And as she whirled around the kitchen it was hard not to notice that the bottoms of her feet were quite literally black and caked with god only knows what. Little Millie had stringy, greasy blonde hair not unlike her mother's, which obviously hadn't been shampooed in a week or more. And as she bent down to pick up one of the cats during the middle of its meal, her mother hollered "No!" and it instantly became clear that this was not a word that the child was accustomed to obeying, and very possibly not accustomed to hearing. That single word set the storm in motion.
Instantly little Millie began screaming at her mother. And since we're dealing with such high caliber parents here, Martha's obvious reaction was to scream right back at her.
Given that this was very early on in my interaction with this family, I elected to observe, rather than instantly correct the poor choice of parenting method... I mean I'm not "Super Nanny" here, my job is to work with them on the house first, effective parenting methods could be managed later... And some parenting skills would come in later, but not until the home cleaning, animal over-population, and hygiene issues were well on their way to being resolved.
Millie continued to scream at Martha, Martha continued to scream at Millie. Mitch must've felt that he was being left out because then he got in on the screaming too! It was roughly this point where I had to yell over everyone.
"OK EVERYBODY! LISTEN UP! This screaming match isn't solving anything. Millie, your mom told you not to pick up the cat while it's eating. She doesn't want you to get scratched or bitten. So please leave the cat on the floor until it is done, or go find something else to play with. Martha, Mitch, you're not saying anything that can't be said in a normal tone of voice, so let's take it down a notch or two."
They all stood stunned in silence. Clearly this concept was foreign to them. Not yelling? Who in the world came up with these shennanigans? What tomfoolery is this not yelling business?
The only sounds came from the cats fighting and chewing down at our feet, and perhaps the light skittering noises of all the cockroaches all around, both visibly and beyond the surfaces of the walls.
Millie, momentarily silent, stood shifting uncomfortably and began picking at the crotch of her soiled little outfit. Once situated down below, she was once again attracted by the sounds of the cats, pouncing on the first cat she could find who was not actively chowing down on the kibble. She picked it up, baby-talked to it for a few brief seconds, held it awkwardly enough that the cat was noticeably uncomfortable, and then chucked it in the general direction of the ground when it began to hiss and scratch at her.
Millie and Mitch pounced on this opportunity for a "told you so" moment. I again decided not to correct the parenting and instead refocus attention on the more serious issues.
"Millie, can you do me a favor and go play in your room? We'll be in to see you in a minute."
"I DON'T WANNA PLAY IN MY ROOM! I WANNA WATCH TV!"
"That's fine. You can go watch TV for a few minutes, I've got to talk to your parents for a bit."
Millie gave me a little attitude and sashayed out of the kitchen.
"Ok, I know that this is just my first time meeting Millie, but based on what I'm seeing, I'm not encouraged guys."
"Well, clearly we need to start addressing some hygiene issues. When was the last time she bathed?"
"Ok, see, I don't believe that. I might have been born at night, but it wasn't LAST NIGHT. So let's try again with the real answer."
"I don't know... Mitch, do you know?"
"See, that was more along the answer I was expecting, and the fact is that if you can't remember the last time it happened, then you're overdue."
"(silence from the peanut gallery)"
"Furthermore, I noticed that she was grabbing at her crotch, so that means that we need to talk to her about the importance of wearing clean underwear every day, and it's pretty likely that we also need to talk to her about cleaning herself up after using the toilet."
"How do you want us to do that?"
"Well, since there's a history of molestation by her biological father, I'm going to suggest that you handle that Martha... Start out by talking to her about it, and then stay on top of it by making sure that she's actually changing her underwear every day by assisting her, or by checking the laundry. As for the bathing, I'm telling you that she needs a bath or shower AT LEAST every other day, and since it's summer and it's hot out, it really ought to be happening every day... and if need be, you should probably spend some time making sure that she is washing thoroughly."
"Now let's get this poop picked up off the floor and get started on those dishes so that I can get out of here."
Martha took to the sink to begin work on the dishes. Mitch tracked down a roll of toilet paper and began scooping up piles of excrement. When we got to Millie's room, I noticed an unusual amount of dung on the floor again. I again admonished them for keeping the animals in her room. I then decided that a shower was more important to me than anything else I would accomplish during this visit.
The shower was scaldingly satisfying.
(The next visit gets a little hostile!)