By: Shannon Ralph
My children recently suffered the ultimate betrayal. In an act of heartless treachery, I got rid of their beloved pet. Our kitty cat is no more. Actually, that’s not true. She still inhabits the land of the living. But she no longer inhabits my house.
Molly was an aggressive cat. After attacking our dog on numerous occasions, the dog finally fought back, resulting in a great deal of bloodshed and a $350 vet bill. But that wasn’t enough for Molly. She kept going after the dog. The thick-headed feline simply refused to learn her lesson. Ruanita and I had enough and hatched a plot to rid our house of the pugnacious beast. Molly was going to take a little trip to the Humane Society.
We assumed, to our great chagrin, that Molly would be considered too aggressive for adoption and would ultimately be euthanized. We were not thrilled about that outcome, but we had resigned ourselves to the fact that we simply could not live with Molly any longer, and we did not have it in us to pawn her off on another unsuspecting family. We decided that we would lie to our children about her demise. Thankfully, to my great surprise, Molly was not put to sleep. It was determined that she was adoptable as long as she went to a family with no dogs and no young children. A crazy old cat lady was really her best bet for a happy existence. Regardless of the happy outcome at the Humane Society, we decided to stick with the lie we had put together for the children. I am not above lying to my children. I have no qualms whatsoever about misleading them, particularly when it is for their own good or when it keeps the peace in my household. I did not want them thinking that their mom was capable of disposing of their pet behind their backs —even though that was entirely true. I may be a monster, but I prefer my children discover that years from now in therapy rather than during their innocent youth.
As Ruanita and the twins headed off to pick Lucas up from school, I put Molly into her carrier and loaded her into the car. We told the children that I was taking her back to the vet for a check-up. When I came home cat-less, we (or rather, I) explained that the vet had suggested that Molly was not safe in our home. I told the children that the vet was concerned that Molly was in danger of being killed the next time she had a run-in with our dog. I made it sound as though the vet suggested getting rid of Molly and that it was not their mommies’ idea. It was not our fault. I told them that I left her with the vet and the vet was going to find her the perfect home. The kids bought it hook, line, and sinker. That is not to say that the whole scene was not hideously painful.
My children cried. Actually, they wailed. All three of them. The sounds coming out of them were nothing short of tortuous. Lucas was truly sad. He sobbed like a baby. Sophie, I suspect, was simply enjoying the drama of repeatedly wailing, “She’s gone…I’ll never see her again…never! Nev! Er!” Nicholas did not shed a tear. That is not to say that he did not wail with the rest of them. He laid on the couch. Closed his eyes. Scrunched up his face. And he howled. Occasionally, I would catch him peeking out of the corner of his eye to make sure he had a captive audience. Then he would yammer even louder. The whole scene went on longer than I am certain it would have if one of their own mothers had passed away. It bordered on ludicrous. But Ruanita and I were the ever-patient parents. We wiped away tears (except for Nicholas, of course, as his eyes were completely dry) and we rubbed backs and we petted heads. We whispered, “there…there” and “we’ll miss her too” and “she’s in a better place now.” We warped into full-on grief counselor mode. It was really quite phenomenal.
The acting skills inherent in this family are nothing short of amazing. Lucas was the only honest one at our little pow-wow. He was the only one who was truly sad. The rest of us were simply acting. And they were Oscar-worthy performances all around. Sophie acted like she was being psychologically tortured in a foreign internment camp of some sort. Nicholas acted like he was not a sociopath who had to fake an emotional attachment to the cat. Ruanita acted like she was not thanking the Lord above that the unnaturally gargantuan clumps of hair that fell off the cat would no longer be clogging up her vacuum cleaner. And I acted like I did not feel a swell of maternal pride for having successfully lied to my offspring. I really think we should take it on the road. Von Trapp family-style. The Pierce-Ralph Family Players. What do you think?