Don’t call Uni a baby.

She really hates that.

Call Uni a baby, and you’re liable to hear, “I know you are, but what am I?” (Yes, we have been introducing her to the delicate pleasures of Pee Wee’s Big Adventure.)

By all means, call Uni a kitten. She is happy to be young. She is happy to hurtle around like a butterfly just informed of her wings.

She is happy to hogtie gravity and decline its suggestions. She is happy to inform you that there is a distinct difference between a kitten (see: Uni) and a baby kitten (those helpless shrieking gerbils who can’t even chew their own shrimp; Uni does not remember ever being one of those, and you shall not convince her).

Call her the crack in the Liberty Bell, if you like. She is all adolescent independence. She is experimental music. Her formalwear is ironic. Her party prowess is iconic.

Call her for dinner, but don’t call her bluff. If you arrive at quarter to four with nothing but love in your arms, you’d best fold those arms behind your back and brace yourself for a scolding by a teenager in a tuxedo.

Call her Univocal, a word she learned in elementary school last week. She is telling all the baby kittens that this is her legal name. She is so cool, she could convince them to wear soda bottle caps as hats. They believe everything she says. “Univocal” means “unambiguous.” It means “having one possible meaning.” It means, “the meaning of life is Uni, and we are all satellites.”

Call her complicated, a condition that she is correctly convinced only makes her cooler.

She is cool enough that she does not care if you tell the cool boys that her complications involve constipation. Uni says everyone has a colon, even babies, although UNI IS NOT A BABY.

There is no shame in containing a colon. Uni told me to write that. Uni is cool enough that she could convince me to wear a Cheez-It box as a hat.

Call her with a lump in your throat, and Uni will prove that she is not a baby. Babies are not budding psychologists. Babies are not sibyls and oracles. (Uni knows the meaning of both words. Uni reads at a ninth-grade level.)

Babies are not able to convince you that you are caring for them, when all the while they are comforting you and counting your tears and confusing your fears until they bug off.

Call her for encore dinner. Uni is old enough to know there is always an encore. Neither Mick Jagger, nor Bad Bunny, nor the lady who brings the shrimp are really gone when they leave the stage. They are coming back with something better. Uni is old enough to know there is always something better.

Uni is old enough to wonder how Mick Jagger got so old without getting sick of wearing man-leggings.

Call her “Special Needs,” if you please. Uni learned this word the first time she cried in the litter box. She may have been a baby kitten then, but she’s not sure. Anyway, her belly hurt, and things weren’t happening the way they should happen. But all the big casual cats — they never wear tuxedos, which is peculiar — said Uni would be just fine.

Sometimes being cherished means getting surgery.

They took Uni to meet friends with white coats and funny rubber necklaces. The friends listened to Uni’s heart and her bowels. Everyone has bowels, even Mick Jagger. The friends adjusted the menu and the medications. The friends gave her a very good night’s sleep while they gave her a very delicate surgery. Uni doesn’t mind if you know the details. Uni thinks it’s pretty punk rock that she had a “rectal stricture,” and now she doesn’t.

Uni thinks she’s going to keep feeling better every day. Uni is right.

Having “Special Needs” means you get to have more friends. Uni is old enough to know that every living creature has “Special Needs.” Call her “Special Needs.”

But above all else, call her a kitten, because Uni learned that all the good friends are going to “Cherish the Kittens.”

Uni knew the word “cherish” before she knew the word, if you know what Uni means.

Without this surgery, Uni would have been in pain — or worse — all her life. Will you make the next little life as sweet as a strawberry?

That word is univocal, too. It means “to love so big, no one ever has to be afraid again.” It means “to make sure your love lands in their heart and their body and even their bowels.”

It means “love has its own gravity.” It means “Uni will always be okay.” Call her a kitten. Please. And cherish her, and cherish the cool kittens, and even cherish those gerbil babies who don’t know anything yet.

Uni is old enough to know what you’re made of. It’s the good stuff.

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