The children want a cat. Notwithstanding the apparent reticence that my husband and I were displaying at this suggestion, they spent the whole of lunchtime discussing and ultimately arguing about what this fictional cat/cats will be called. It now has a first and second name (assuming it is male) and various nicknames. It's colouration is as yet undetermined but the positioning of its bed has been finalized.
There will not be a cat. Or a dog or indeed any other household pet once our aged guinea pigs finally shuffle off this mortal coil. It's not like the children have been deprived of animal company. We have had fish, a selection of rabbits, the aforementioned guinea pigs and some chickens. We even had a cat. But we have decided that there will be no more when the current incumbents die.
It's always the same where pets are concerned. Lots of nagging by the children to achieve their heart's desire. Then there is an initial period of enthusiasm when the pet arrives. The children develop a whole new sense of responsibility. They play with it, feed it and clean it out without being nagged and I am tricked into thinking that having a pet is fine and wonder why I held back for such a long time?
And then I remember as I traipse across the lawn in the pouring rain to fed said pets, bring them in at night, shovel their cage clean. (Obviously I wanted to phrase that slightly differently but there may be children reading.)
Another reason for having pets, apparently, is to prepare the child for dealing with death and grieving. In my experience, the grieving period lasts for about twenty minutes and then the pet is forgotten and they are already nagging for a replacement. I don't really buy into that "Pets are good for kids" thing.
Actually, and this is just between you and me, I would like another cat. Max, my first cat, came with me as part of the package when I got married. Following the well rehearsed cliché, I acquired a cat when I bought my first house. A pretty tabby with slightly stumpy legs and a gentle temperament, she came to me courtesy of the Wharfedale branch of Cats in Need. She followed me around, never really warming to my husband or each additional child and brought me little presents, both dead and alive as cats are wont to do. She died when she was 17 and I have missed her ever since.
So why not give into the children and get a new one? Because a new cat will be all cheeky and mischievous, will claw the furniture and pee in the bath and bring mice in for breakfast. When I was young and single that kind of stuff was endearing but now it is just another thing that I have to clear up and sort out. But more than that, if cat mark II lives to be 17, my youngest child will be 24 and hopefully gone. Do I really want to still have pets when I could be jetting off around the world spending the children's inheritance? Whilst when I got Max I didn't really look much further ahead than the next weekend, now I can see a cat cramping my post children freedom.
That thought process is ridiculous. I know it is. To not get a long living pet because of what may or may not happen in its potential lifespan shows a degree of control that even I balk at. But fortunately, I do not need to question my dodgy judgement because my husband has put the complete kibosh on it. He doesn't want a cat and that is that. I can hide behind his decision and not question the sanity of mine.
The kids will get over it. No doubt there will be something else that they can't live without along soon enough. A dog maybe? Or a horse? I think not.