The Round Cat had heard these taunts from her siblings so often that she had started to believe them herself. Her brothers and sisters kept telling her she was ordinary and not special. Is that why I don’t have a real name? she thought. Why was she so different from the other kittens? Even her mother told her repeatedly that she wasn’t like other kittens. These questions kept swirling in her mind. If you looked into her eyes, you could see that she was deeply troubled. Noting this, the mother cat marched her family back to the house for dinner. Without being told, The Round Cat went quietly to the time-out corner to wait for dinner.
After dinner, the mother sent the boys upstairs to wash up for bed and asked the girls to do the dishes. When the dishes were almost finished, she sent Rachel and Jessica upstairs to get ready for bed. “Round Cat, will you stay here and help me
Finish up? I’d like to talk to you.”
“Boy, are you in trouble again!” the girls chanted joyfully as they dashed out of reach of their mother’s scolding paws.
The Round Cat helped put the dishes away in silence. Her mother waited as if searching for the right words. Finally, she said, “Let’s go sit down in the living room.” Her mother sat in the big chair and invited the kitten to sit on her lap. She started to wash the kitten as she had done when she was very young. The Round Cat unknowingly began to purr louder. It felt good to be worry-free in her mother’s embrace. Even though her mother’s tongue was very rough, it felt good to get her ears washed.
“You know,” her mother began, “that you aren’t like your brothers and sisters. Why do you let them get to you? You know they only call you names because they know you don’t like it. The boys are jealous of you and the girls are both tattletales. You’re so much smarter than they are. They don’t know any other way to get even with you for winning all the time.”
“Mom,” The Round Cat asked, “why do I look so funny? If I didn’t look like this, they wouldn’t be able to tease me.”
“There is nothing wrong with the way you look. Besides, it isn’t what you look like on the outside that matters, anyway.”
“What do you mean?”
“The other kittens may be beautiful to look at, but your beauty comes from deep inside you. You have inner beauty. You’re also smart, witty, and clever. You’re very observant, a quick learner, and very sensitive. You know your way around the world. You make friends with everyone. All of that takes someone very special, with very special talents.
“Besides, it isn’t important what other people think about you. What you think about yourself is what is important. What is in your heart counts more than the way you look. Your appearance just helps others quickly tell you from someone else. You shouldn’t judge anyone by their appearance any more than they should judge you by yours. Your body features have been given to you to help you in life. Whatever you’re going to do, you will need to have those big, furry feet. Maybe you will go to the North Pole. Big furry feet would not only keep your toes warm, but would keep you from falling into the deep snow drifts.
“Remember to value who you are. Your talents are gifts that were given to you for a reason, even if you don’t know that reason now. Someday, you will understand.” With that, she finished grooming the kitten and sent her off to bed.
The Round Cat thought very hard about her mother’s words. She really was smarter than the others. She wasn’t at all sure she understood how big furry feet and big ears were going to help her in life. But her mom had said she was special. She had said she had been given talents as gifts. What were her talents? When she finally fell asleep, she dreamed about being special and having special talents.