It could be worse, it could be a dog.
Our cat was on her last legs and considering she only had three of them, she actually made it into old age with relative grace, a fair bit of luck (she'd been caught in a hunter's trap. I'm a positive thinker: she left her leg rather than her life ) and with a lot of hands-on attention by two toddlers who grew into children whom did not grow out of the habit of clinging onto anything vaguely furry and preferably mobile (or relatively so).
During the cat's steep decline health-wise The Eldest through tears began to ask if we would have another animal after her death - which seemed a little callous but I guess normal for a girl of eight. The Youngest insisted on a squirrel or a horse which we refused. Another cat was also considered out of the question. I was already dreaming of cat-hairless jumpers, sofas without scratch marks, and holidays without cat-sitters.
After the death of our beloved Morgana, The Eldest's requests for another pet came fast and furious as did our negative responses. Then at one stage I thought - hold on. Let me hear her out. Before I go on let me just explain that The Eldest is not particularly precocious (I'd say the opposite - at least compared to her friends. Whilst one is busy spending hours choosing what to wear in front of the mirror, another is beating the boys in swimming competitions, another is at age seven writing a novel and the forth is creating poetry and cries over a lost loves. I kid you not). The Eldest in the meantime is still playing with teddy bears. Anyway - I stopped to ask her WHY she wanted another pet to which she replied:
"The cat was my only contact I had with nature. And I NEED a contact with nature."
That completely threw me. For a rare moment I was speechless before Husband and I dived on the keyboard and typed "kittens Milan" into Google.
And so here we are with a bundle of fur curled up on our duvet who goes by the name of "Kiki" - the new arrival. Previously abandoned at a year old, she's a white (there goes my dream of hairless jumpers - I forgot to put a colour limitation on the cat) slightly drab looking thing with an eye problem, a lung problem and a very loud purr which is sparked off my the merest hint of a hand at her fur. The children are ecstatic the parents a little less so (lie, lie - I already adore her).
This episode made me realise that as an adult too often we demand things without explaining WHY we need them. If I know something is important to you I will consider the request in a different light. But perhaps sometimes we are ashamed not only for the reasons behind our requests (they may make us seem weak and vulnerable) , but also of admitting that we are in need at all (attention, love, affection, a kind word on a bad day). Being in need is a cause for celebration, an indication of being alive, of feeling and a vital component for connecting with others. A robot may do everything perfectly but I wouldn't want to be friends with one. It would be boring, cold and terribly unrewarding, even if it could make me a blinding cup of tea and clean up the litter tray for me. Sigh.
For your homework I invite you to tell someone of your needs and to see how that feels. Be a little courageous-I'm trying, it's scary but so far it's paying off.
Morgana - picture courtesy of The Youngest