Our Cat Died

Apr 28 2011

Aden is 9 years old.

Her elementary school principal has lovely handwriting.

I would know, because I get letters beautifully addressed “To the Parents of Aden.”

My pretty little angel follows all the school rules and behaves perfectly.  Whenever she feels like it.

All the rest of the time, her behavior’s in the crapper.

This month’s hand-written reports:

  • hitting
  • biting
  • kicking

Additionally, she urinated all over her top bunk mattress.  More than lots of times.  And, no — not accidentally or while she was sleeping.  While she was awake and playing.

Additionally additionally, she had to be hugged (read: restrained) during children’s church.

Aw.  Doesn’t it make your heart feel all gushy and squishy?

Yes.  Mine, too.

Then, this week, we had great news.

Aden’s been cooperating again at school.  Yay!

Her reading abruptly and dramatically improved all the way up to grade level.  To grade level, ladies and gentlemen!  For one of my developmentally delayed kids, that’s practically a miracle.

What a relief, to be able to praise, and praise, and praise her.

She ran off the bus exclaiming, “I got caught being good, Mom!” and “I only got sent to the office two times today!”

Dare I say, we’ve turned the corner?  That we’re on the track back to — well, if not to socially appropriate behavior, then at least off the track to suspension?

I need a freaking giant piece of wood to knock on, please.

So imagine my dismay when Aden hopped off the bus yesterday crying.  Emotionally shattered.  Face wet with tears and snot.

While out loud I was saying, “Whatsa matter, baby?,” on the inside I was thinking, “Oh, crap.” Except I didn’t think the word crap.

And as I was reaching for her backpack, looking for another envelope with beautiful handwriting, Aden managed to murmur, “I’m sad.”

“About what, sweetie?”  All the while thinking, “Did someone finally hit her back?  Don’t tell her she had it coming.  Don’t tell her she had it coming. That wouldn’t be nice. Don’t tell her she had it coming.”

“Because,” she hiccuped, “because…” big breath, “because our cat DIED.”

Oh.  Of course!

How terribly, horribly insensitive of me.

I can’t believe I didn’t think of that myself.

When a child’s pet dies, the parent really should consider the grief impact on a child.  The parent shouldn’t dismiss it as paltry or small.  The parent should understand that the child has a bond with the pet and is going to need time to process and come to terms with its absence.

Because our cat did die.

Four years ago.

Yes, that’s right.  Can I just say it again?

Four years ago.

Of extreme old age, and, ironically, because I couldn’t take the cat peeing all over our stuff anymore.  I probably shouldn’t tell Aden about the pee part, eh?

To clarify, “Aden, you’re upset because our cat died?”

“YEeehhhs!” she wailed.

“Okaaay.  What was our cat’s name?”

“His name was Andy, and I miss him so, so, so, so MUCH!”

Our cat’s name was Annie, and she was a girl.

The End