Saturday, September 25, 2010

A New Pet

One of the saddest moments that our family has yet experienced happened this summer when our cat died. Our 16 year-old Puck was old, sick, and grumpy for the past several years. We all knew she was living on borrowed time. Yet, when it came time to let her go, we were incredibly sad. It was far more difficult than I ever imagined it would be. There were so many tears and I still miss her dreadfully. Every single day, I notice something outside and wonder if it’s Puck sitting outside the back door waiting for someone to let her in. Every night when I am here writing while the rest of the house sleeps, I feel like she might come and rub against my leg while I sit at my desk.

Puck was a grumpy cat who preferred to be the only cat in the family for her whole life. Despite the fact that she came to live with me when she was just 8 weeks old and I loved her immensely, she never sat in my lap until the week before she died. She was just not a lap cat. So, we tried other pets to fulfill our craving for a lap animal. But the situation was always miserable and we found that the only way for peace in our house was for Puck to live as the only cat. And forget about a dog. She could not have tolerated that. She only tolerated the guinea pigs because they are basically furry lumps that never bothered her.

As the children grew, they also wanted other pets. And our refrain was, “That won’t work for Puck.” Knowing that the cat was old and in ill health, the kids than began their own refrain. “When Puck dies….” followed by whatever animal wishes they had at the moment. Usually it was, “…can we get a dog?” or “…can we get three kittens?” or “ can we get bunnies?”

Two things have happened now that Puck has finally died. The kids are far sadder than they expected to be. Many of the tears over Puck have been mine. But the rest of the family has cried considerably over her.

The second thing is that the request for pets has begun. I asked the kids to wait. I can’t even think about a new pet yet. It’s just too much. I have not even cleaned up all of the messes left by the old, dead cat or even scattered her ashes (yes, we had the cat cremated).

But Big Sister could not resist asking for a pet when she found the latest object of her affection. We took a homeschool tour of an exotic pet farm this week. And Big Sister hugged me and said with great seriousness and intense passion, “Mommy, can we please get a wallaby?!”

Look and see. Pretty cute. But not going to happen.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Small World, Big World

I have had a heck of a week getting back into the swing of fall. After a good time with some late summer travel, re-entry has been difficult. I am still mired in laundry and email to answer. My house is a mess and we all want to stay home and relax. Yet, the kids have classes and we all have commitments, so we have been on the go all week. I am trying to get them back into the swing of doing academics after a break for our vacations. I am trying to get myself back into the swing of preparing, reviewing, and assisting with academics after the break for our vacations.

To top it off, I have been spending the whole week obsessing over what to feed my children while we are on-the-go since Middle Sister’s dietary restrictions are going to require that she eat gluten-free, dairy-free, and egg-free. So, my pickiest child has to give up her favorite convenience foods. No more sandwiches (and Dear Reader, I have tried to encourage her acceptance of gluten-free alternatives). No more string cheese. No more snack bars. My job just got a lot harder.

Now I get to creatively plan healthy allergen-free meals that Middle Sister will eat (no small task) AND prepare them (because Middle Sister has already rejected all healthy convenient pre-prepared foods) all before we leave the house in the morning, all the while trying to rally the slow-moving we-are-not-morning-people children and get them ready for the day.

This is all to say that I have been anxious and sort of feeling sorry for myself this week. I have not slept well. I have had my notorious packing nightmares (wherein I have to pack in a hurry and the objects I need to pack magically multiply so that I run out of time, space, or both, before some dream-deadline occurs). As with all changes in schedule, by Thursday, I am a wreck.

This Thursday, I left the house at 10:30 so I could get to the kids’ drama program and learn what the characters will be for the play that I will write for them to perform. And we literally spent the entire day out. Tired Little Sister had no nap. It was a long day.

Then, at 5:30, I got to shift gears. My dear husband met me at one of the kids’ classes to take over. I went to a World Affairs Council Event and heard guest speakers from Ashesi University in Ghana. Ashesi, which means “beginning” is a University that is breaking new ground in African Education. And graduating Africans with the skills to solve the problems of Africans. It’s brilliant , really. And completely simple. Why not trust that Africans can handle their own country and their own lives better? Especially when provided with the opportunities that a great education can offer them. I listened to a discussion about investment in African instead of donations and relief in Africa. I listened to two women graduates who are making a difference in the world, starting with their own countries. I heard a little about the 200 children who live at the unique orphanage at the Village of Hope. I heard about mircolending that works.

And I thought how narrow my perspective has been this week. What an amazing world and what a lot of good things can happen within it.

I suppose it’s okay to have that narrow view now and again. It’s how I maintain some sense of sanity when everything is overwhelming. Just focus on one small thing at a time. But it was good to be reminded about how big a world it is.