The happy vs. sad ratio: childhood memories in OKC - MetroFamily Magazine
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The happy vs. sad ratio: childhood memories in OKC

by Callie Collins

Oklahoma City family fun rounds out childhood.

Our family has a lot of good times.

We enjoy the happy occasions, outings on awesome afternoons that show my children their community. As they grow, I expect that staring into Chihuly glass and fountains at Oklahoma's own Civic Center Music Hall will reflect something of themselves, throw back images of kids that keep getting taller, growing older. The passage of time is a theme I talk about often in this blog; it's a relevant undercurrent to every family with kids. You know what it is to watch small footprints grow and leave larger impressions through the years.

As an adult, you also know about love and loss. Kids just don't yet.

Part of that growing up process isn't pleasant. There are sad times too, from which we all learn a lot. 

Our family had the sad task of putting down a kitten a few weeks ago. It was particularly sad because of the animal's young age and my own sons' inexperience with death. The circumstances were bad: our Manx kitten had barely been with us a month, newly adopted, when we noticed she was bleeding and listless. An emergency vet confirmed a broken pelvis and what was the humane thing to do. 

Tailless Swift had to be put to sleep. The cat was suffering. There was no other option and my children had to accept that. 

Isaac, age 4, took it okay. He hugged the cat goodbye through tears and allowed himself to be led away from the vet's office.

Sam is 9 and the reaction was entirely different. I saw the stages of grief play out in a 9' by 12' room as the news registered with him. That pained expression of disbelief, followed by denial and bargaining, is something I hope not to witness again in a child. It was the first time and I so wish it could be the last.

The possibility is always with us, I know, and I just pray it's not anything with more far-reaching consequences or at least anytime soon.    

I don't want my children to look back and remember only days like that. The good memories have to outweigh the bad, by necessity. There are questions on the daily now about what happens after we die, why, and if there's a heaven for cats. I'll have done my job as their mom if I can answer those in a way that makes sense and also make sure they have a counterbalance of memories, a way to overset some of what cannot be avoided. 

There has been a lot of somber news lately. I see nothing wrong with turning it off for awhile, moving past if you can't move on from it. A kitten seems very small in the scale of loss everywhere but to a child especially, that's how the other, bigger losses come into focus, little by little. Empathy starts at home, it seems.  

The vet sent a sympathy note yesterday; it came in the mail and I stared at the envelope, wondering if I should let Sam open it. A paw print taken on cardstock was enclosed, with the cat's name carefully lettered. The afternoon was sunny; he was playing outside with friends. I didn't call him. It'll be here for him whe he's ready to see it. In the meantime, he can go have a good time, the way children should. 

If you're looking for family fun this summer, click here for ideas. 

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