Last year we got bunnies. That didn't turn out very well.
A few weeks ago the gardeners handed the girls a baby bunny and it became their pet for an afternoon. Then a girl in the neighborhood told them it had been lost and returned it to the owner, who promptly gave it to somebody else. A few days later it got run over by a car. I dried a lot of tears that week.
This week two kittens showed up on our back porch.
Brandon hates cats. He supplements this hatred with allergies. We've had plenty of discussions about his cat hatred, and I think I can sum it up by saying he doesn't like the independent nature of cats. He likes dogs' dependent nature better - they know who's taking care of them and love you for it. I'm not sure what that says about our marriage. Maybe I should be a little more dependent?
Feeling sorry for the kittens and not being a cat-hater, I started feeding them what we had on hand. After all, who can resist two cute kittens? I can't. When he found out, Brandon tried to warn me off. "Don't you remember what happened the last two times when we tried to have pets? And what about the 'no warm-blooded pets rule? What's going to happen to them when we leave? Are you really going to take my hard-earned money and feed it to cats?!?"
However, in addition to hating cats, he also loves his daughters with a secretly tender heart. He couldn't hold out very long while watching Kathleen and Sophia do exactly what little girls (and maybe their mothers) do when two little kittens show up at their back door - fall in love. By the end of their second day on our porch, the girls had named the kittens and Kathleen had told Sophia at least twenty times that this was the thing that she had always dreamed of.
So after feeding them what we had for a few days and watching them piteously mew at our door for more, I knew I had to get cat food. The kittens had decided that our house was the place to get food and stuck around constantly waiting for the next handout. It was clear that we were there only source of food.
Thursday morning I asked Brandon what I should do about the cats - what we were feeding them wasn't enough and they were hanging around our house all day. "Well then scare them off!" he replied "if you feed them now, you'll just break the girls' hearts when we leave. And the kittens will get used to the food. They'll starve when we leave."
"Okay," I told him (being the obedient wife that I am), "but I'm not telling the girls they need to scare their kitties - the kitties that they've already named - away. You do the job. You look into their tender little faces and tell them to get rid of their kitten friends. I'm not going to do it for you."
When I came down for breakfast, the girls solemnly informed me that they might have to scare the kitties away. I looked at Brandon and arched an eyebrow. "Might? What exactly does... might... mean?"
"You know," he hedged, "we'll just play it by ear. See how things go."
"Play it by ear...?"
"Um, you know..." he paused. "Play... it... by... ear. Yeah." More silence. "Okay!! Buy the darned cat food!! Fine!! But you'll be the one drying tears when we leave!"
So on Thursday I bought a bag of cat food. We are now the semi-owners/food source for Harriet and Beauty. We've explained to the girls at least twenty times, enough for them to quote us, that we are not taking them with us when we leave. I have no desire to take them to a vet, give them shots, get them fixed, and try to cram them into an Oakwood apartment with my cat-allergic husband. I like cats, but I have no intention to try to kill Brandon while making my life crazier than it already is.
But for now they're really cute little kittens. Our kitchen opens onto the back porch where Harriet and Beauty hang out, waiting for the next mealtime. The girls have modified a cardboard bunny house into a cat house (yum!! It smells like bunny in here) that the kittens like to chase each other in and out of. They curl up to sleep together under in the shade Edwin's big toy truck. When not sleeping and eating, the kittens wrestle and fight and chase each other around the porch. Harriet even condescends to let the children pet here until we call them off. The girls are in absolute heaven.
But we all know this is going to end in tears. Kathleen assures me that it won't, but what seven- and five-year old girl won't cry about leaving two kittens behind? I don't know if it would have been better to chase the kittens off and keep the girls from this pain or two let them have six months of enjoyment from their kittens. I used to think that when my parents made a decision, it was the cosmically best decision that could ever have been made. They were my parents, and so they were all-knowing. After all, how did they get to be parents?
Of course I know different now and know that a lot of decisions don't even have a cosmically best answer even if I knew to choose it. It's very disappointing to discover that most of life is spent choosing between options that don't have a 'best' choice - just one that you have to make and deal with the fallout from. But you still have to make the choice. It comes with the job.
So this time the choice was kitties. I'll get back to you about the fallout in about six months.