K. toddles over to the cat's food and water dishes.
If I am lucky enough to notice before he gets to them, I immediately stop what I am doing and start a series of crescendoing "no, no, no, NO, NO, NO!"'s (although that tactic has been completely pointless to this point).
He then gives me the sweetest smile any child could ever give his mother, and proceeds to shove his hand into the food dish, grab a fistful of tiny cat food pellets, and fling them across the kitchen floor.
I then proceed to run over to him (still voicing the "No's" with increasing desperation), wrench the remaining pellets out of his grubby little fist and tell him 100 different times how we DON'T throw cat food all over the floor, because Mommy then has to clean it up, and God forbid we should cause extra work for Mommy, but also those $#%^ cat pellets find their way into every crack and crevice of our kitchen and can't you please just go play with your cars in the living room like a nice boy?
Then he proceeds to launch into an interesting little routine that starts with him perfectly mimicking me, shaking his finger and saying "NO NO NO!" Although when he does it, he is saying it to the floor, for some reason.
Then I pick him up and make sure he is looking me in the eye when I repeat "NO NO NO" at which point he evades eye contact, but usually starts to cry, although only a little bit (seems he can't be bothered by this minor inconvenience) and it's definitely those big crocodile tears that he has become so good at whipping up on demand.
Then I take him into another room for a change of scenery, point out something to distract him, and go back to whatever it was I was doing before.
On bad days, the scene repeats all over again. On good days, he gets focused on something else for about an hour, and then walks into the kitchen and discovers the cat dishes again, and then here we go once more...
My cousin, the one with 4 kids under the age of 5, professes to live in a non-baby-proofed house because she believes that if you establish firm boundaries with your kids, you won't have to do things like put cabinet locks on your cabinets or toilet locks on your commodes. Ever since she told me that, I've been trying to live by the same credo. I mean, it would be so easy for me to just put the cat's dishes up on the counter for most of the day (we probably should do that anyway, since our cat WEIGHS 22 POUNDS and I'm not joking). But really, it's the principle of it. It's not a lot to ask, is it, for my son to learn once and for all that WE DO NOT TOUCH THE CAT'S FOOD. My friend told me she read that it takes about 20 times of saying "no" about something before it sinks in to a toddler. By that count, we have about 14 more episodes of this to go. Fun.