When I was a kid, I was gaga over all things feline. At age 6, my purple "I ♥ CATS" shoelaces were a prized possession. When I was about 10 years old, I read Paul Gallico's The Abandoned and thoroughly identified with the female cat character. Of course, it helped quite a bit that her name was Jennie.
In my early teens, dreaming about the car that I'd soon learn how to drive, I fantasized about the custom license plate that I wanted: JENCAT. I went by the same nickname in late childhood. By the time I was actually driving, it didn't seem quite as cool as I'd imagined, and so the 1972 Pontiac Bonneville kept its generic plates. But I still loved cats. It seemed I always had -- even as a preschooler, my imaginary friends were tiny little kittens.
S likes to tease me about my lack of creativity as a child. Granted, "Jencat" doesn't step too far outside the bounds of normalcy. (He would also remind me that most of the games I made up with my friends suffered from glaringly unoriginal names: Witch, Boat, Train, House....) But I remember some pretty freakishly creative stuff -- according to my imagination, those teeny tiny pretend friends lived behind my ears and underneath my fingernails. Perhaps I was having too much fun playing creatively to worry about being creative.
And that's how it should be when you're a kid. Creativity comes naturally. There's enough time to worry about about it when you grow up!
I'm happy to say that it seems my own children are plagued by no such concerns. They share some of their their mother's fondness for cats, and one of their favorite games involves my pretending to be a cat (which mostly involves my wearing cat ears and doing a rather silly imitation of Henrietta Pussycat from Mr. Rogers). BJ is starting to enjoy the naming part of play. He's decided, when we play cats, that my name is "Love Sock." (Granted, one of our cats is named "Socks," so this isn't all that off the beaten path.) He came up with that one all on his own, along with a secondary nickname of "Sweet Gum."
It's not too surprising that these have quickly become favorite terms of endearment in our household. Hey, it's more creative than Jencat!