If you are into warm fuzzy reads in the parenting category…..you scanned the right page ….read on….
A few weeks ago, if you were in the area of Cloverlea, you may have received my heartfelt flier – about a lost cat. Kitcat had gone missing. Now Kitcat is no ordinary cat (as few are) and I was very distraught when this much treasured member of our family failed to come home. I set about on a campaign to find him ; posters, fliers, SPCA,, vets, internet – no effort too big , no stone un-turned.
Within a day I was called to the first ‘sighting’. A few neighborhood kids rode up my drive on their bikes and told me they had seen the wandering feline a few days earlier. The next day a parent phoned me to say his children had seen him a little farther afield and the day after that two young girls excitedly lead me to a neighbors cat (a feline look-alike).
After some 5 days of endless searching, calling, hoping and crying….I was woken at 3am by a faint meow. Holding hope at arms length, I crept downstairs to find a bedraggled, wet, famished pussy cat in my kitchen. “Meow”, he said “The king is back”.
As I sat in the dark on the carpet letting Kitcat head-butt, purr and relate his story, I was struck by the reaction of the children in my neighbourhood. They had risen to the challenge. They had become involved. They had wanted me to feel good (find my cat) so they could feel good and you know – I felt a warm gratitude for this upcoming generation.
Someone said that kids need an opportunity to be noble – to be a hero – to do good and, after this ‘lost cat’ experience, I know they are right. My neighbourhood kids were much more caring, concerned and empathetic about my plight, than most of the busy and life seasoned adults. For all their lack of life experience, these kids knew loss….and they knew hope…. and they were prepared to put the footwork into befriending the latter.
The morning after Kitcats return, I bundled him into my arms and walked out onto the street where I live. One small boy riding by on his bike, shrieked with delight when he saw us. It was evident I had given him joyous news (even though he knows neither me nor my feline very well) and he biked off in search of neighbourhood peers with which to rejoice.
My point is? Give kids a chance to be noble. Give kids a chance to do good. Give them a chance to step up and give. Encourage them to befriend hope, sacrifice and hard work in ways that make their heart swell. Ignore your adult wisdom long enough sometimes to join in their pursuit of re-directing the injured, wayward duck, building the cardboard tree-house (because Jimmy doesn’t have one),walking with Sarah all the way round the block to find the end of the rainbow or join them on their mission – to find a missing cat. As adults we know that ducks die, cardboard gets wet, rainbows are elusive and that some cats never return. But ‘missions impossible’ breed Heroes and Heroines – whether the ending is happy or not.
My thanks to the Cloverlea kids for letting me know they cared, for putting some legwork into the caring and for taking a little hope and stretching it a lot.
PS – This article was written for The Guardian and Parentline Manawatu some years ago. I am sad to report that in his never ending quest for freedom and experience – one day Kitcat left on an adventure and never returned. I am ever grateful for the joy he brought to my life and imagine he is somewhere out there…..happily chasing bunnies in the sky.