Thursday, July 12, 2012

Little Boy Lost

When I started writing I envisioned a page where my more creative work would be displayed. What once was a venue for my essays and stories has now become a spiritual and emotional outlet. As it turned out, I am a “mommy blogger.” I suppose in my most self-serving ideal, it will someday be read and used by my children. It will be a memoir of sorts, used to understand the parts of Mom that remained cryptic to their young minds.

Last night I made Nathan cry. Not because I was angry or mean, but because I wanted to prepare him for a coming loss. Nathan is our sensitive one. He empathic-ally takes on the stresses and emotions of others, whether he knows them or not. We struggle to teach him a balance between guarding his self and holding an open heart. The last thing we want for him is hurt, and the next to last we want is for him to withdraw to the inside.

This is where parenting gets tough. Nichole and I have been debating whether or not to euthanize our dog Jasmine. Jazz is 11 years old, which is close to average for a Dachshund. She was once a vibrant able watchdog who gave us two beautiful litters. She loves unconditionally and is only slightly spiteful (as Dachshunds are prone to be) when left at home.

Lately though Jazz has been more miserable than happy. Her allergy to fleas and summer pollen has her biting, scratching and rubbing until she is nearly bald. Two months ago she was in such condition that someone reported us to the ASPCA for “mistreating” her. Of course this was unfounded as soon as the uniformed officers saw that she is well cared for, just old and crusty. I could go through the whole list, from small tumors to cataracts and deafness, but the point is not to justify our plans.

What has come of this debate is “how do we tell the kids?” They all take loss especially hard. Nathan still cries over the loss of JuJube, the hamster. He is saddened every time he remembers Tonka. Nathan gets sad just missing Dakota, Kaitlin’s dog. But we had Tonka and Jasmine before the boys. They have grown up with her. She is their dog, whether or not they choose to play with her.

Nichole and I talked about when to take Jazz to the vet. I talked with friends about how to handle telling the boys. My fear is that if we tell them we are “taking her to be put to sleep” they will only hear “I’m taking her to be killed.” The consensus is to begin preparing the boys by stressing up her age and infirmities; to talk openly that she might die soon.

The plan is, or was to do this while Nichole and the boys are away on vacation; to just have her “die” while they are gone. But I can already hear the cries “we didn’t even get to say goodbye” as they mourn. It will almost be too much to add that Kaitlin, the baby, and her dog are moving to Wyoming. The boys are already losing them. Wouldn’t it be cruel to take away the family pet?

Last night Nathan asked me “how come” Jasmine gets confused at the door and forgets to go out. I thought to myself that this was the perfect opening. I could talk about what happens when dogs age. I could talk about the fact that she is blind, almost deaf and hurts. I was lame.

I did mention some of those things and then I went on to tell him “I’m afraid she might die soon.” Nathan froze in his tracks, literally stopped all movement and began crying. My almost eight year old was reduced to toddler hood as I picked him up and rocked him for half an hour. He cried and told me “I hope it doesn’t happen while we’re gone.” That was his first hope, then he hoped it wouldn’t happen when they get back either. For that matter, he hoped it wouldn’t happen before they leave.

I didn’t know what to say. All I could do was hold my little boy and listen as he mourned his lost pets: Tonka, JuJube, and Faith. I could only listen as he mourned the pending loss of Jasmine. Nathan feels everything so deeply. How in the world can I balance his heart against Jasmine’s life? There is no way now that I can do this while they are gone. I can only pray for God to take the decision off my shoulders. It’s just not time.

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