It turns out that the last thing you want to say to your seven year old as they board the bus is “Don’t be shocked if you come home and your cat isn’t here anymore! Okay, have a great day sweetie!”
Because that seven year old will then tell her bus-mates, her friends, her teachers, her lunch lady, her janitor, her people she hasn’t met before, that HER MOTHER threatened to kill her cat if it cost to much to fix him.
Go ahead. Live with that guilt.
Well honestly I had no idea there was any guilt to live with until Esther got off the bus crying and asking if Tyko was still alive as she ran into the house calling his name as that was all she thought about all day at school.
“Well of course he’s still alive – why wouldn’t he be alive?” I inquired.
“Because you told me you may just kill him if it costs to much to fix his stomach. I told everyone!” She replied.
Oh. “Well I was just kind of being sarcastic. I mean I want Tyko to get better but we may have to make a decision that we cannot help him anymore. But I would never let him go without having you say goodbye to him first.”
“So, he’s not dead?”
“No, not dead. My wallet is currently hundreds and hundreds of dollars lighter…but your cat is alive. For now.”
“But Esther, we still don’t know everything that’s wrong and I’ve gotta be honest with you – I don’t know how much more I can spend. I know that seems weird and cruel and unfair…but honey I need to use our money to take care of you and your sisters and sometimes, as hard as it might be to understand, sometimes a cat is just a cat.”
And I don’t think that’s a cruel thing to say. It’s a reality. And I love cats. I love our cats. But even the vet understands the reality when they called me eight times yesterday to explain things and give estimates. They would not be itemizing a bill about my kids. They were itemizing because we were talking about a cat. They get it.
Just maybe next time I will make sure Esther understands that I would not just ‘kill’ her cat without her full knowledge and a proper goodbye. Maybe next time she’ll bear witness to her mother sobbing alone in the vet’s waiting room because it hurts everyone’s heart to make a decision like this. Even if it’s just a cat.
So for now, Tyko cat lives. And we wait to see what the next few weeks bring us.
And maybe I’ll get lucky and he’ll die when I’m out of town this weekend and it will save me from making any further parenting mistakes.