Get him a pet, they said. It'll do him good, they said...
Yes, there are dozens of reasons why having pets are good - no, great - for children. But it's not always plain-sailing for the parents, as Estrelita Moses found out.
One Friday night while sitting with my "stoepies" (a support group of three that require copious amounts of wine on a Friday night to celebrate/commiserate and whine and wine about the week that was), the die was cast.
My four-year-old Luca would get the kitten he’d been hounding me for.
Fast forward nine weeks, and kitty Misha arrived home to great fanfare. And a lot of stern warnings: don’t grab her round her neck; be gentle... no that’s not gentle... no she does not want to play with the Avengers either and god knows, your Lays and raisins are certainly not a good idea.
At this point I might mention that I am allergic to cats, but you get used to your own blah blah... whatever! The squeals of delight from the kitten’s temporary digs as the new BFFs bonded was worth the water-riddled swollen eyes and sneeze fest.
But four days later, Misha came down with a bad case of the snuffles, so off to the vet we went. We had a cat box, the practice was a nice one, and of course the owner of said pet should go along, so he could see where Misha is going. It should be fine. A learning expedition. It’s just a trip to the vet.
Not just a "trip to the vet"
My son trying to wrestle the cat box off me in the parking lot because "I’m a big boy and can carry my kitty myself" and balking at the entrance to the vet’s offices was just the start.
A death stare at the vet followed. "What are you going to do with my kitty?" "I want to leave now!!!" More tears. The matter was resolved when the vet took Misha to a treatment room, and Luca went on a walkabout to meet the practice's resident cat and the Finding Nemo fish in the tank.
Okay crisis averted, let's head home. And get some takeout on the way... While we are at it, why not just get a few things?
As I pulled into the parking lot it occurred to me – yes then only – that I couldn't really leave child and cat in the car. So into the trolley they went – child and cat in cat box. A cat, cat box, and four-year-old who is quite sturdy does not for a light trolley make. But we made it, eventually, to the door of a takeout restaurant where, with mewling kitty in tow, an angel waitress – sensing my near meltdown – came to sort us out.
We picked up some basics while we waited. And while the trolley was heavy-going, it was going. Finally, we were done – in the checkout queue. Then I heard a not-so-soft voice: "Mommy, I need to pee... mommy I need to pee NOW." I replied: "We are almost there... can you hold it?" Of course the answer was a resounding NO from a child who was now standing up in trolley and dancing from side to side. Swearing under my breath, I went off in search of a security guard who kindly agreed to watch the trolley and the cat. We ran.
Finally, almost an hour later, we were home.
Two bowls of noodles later: "Mommy I need to bath, I smell disgusting." "Mommy can I watch Avengers? No, Finding Dory? No, Nemo... no, Ultimate Spiderman..." "Mom! I need cookies and milk!"
PS: Misha is on the mend. Oh, the vet also asked me if I could possibly nebulise the cat... She is ten weeks old.
Does your preschooler have a pet? Has it been bliss or have you come up against #parentingstruggles? Send your stories and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org for possible publication.