They say you should never work with kids or animals.
Yet most of us will share our lives with either or both.
I share my life with two children.
Oliver, an eight year old ratbag with a wicked sense of humour and a beautiful soft heart. Oliver claims to hate kisses and yet as soon as I look sad he covers me in them and they are magical.
Mili, ten going on fifteen. Mili has superhuman strength. We share a very special bond. We are survivors. There was a time when I was pregnant where both of us could have been dead but neither of us gave in. Mili was born when I was alone. When I had nothing. She is my warrior princess. However, she is learning that I am the Warrior Queen and challenging me for that crown is unwise. For now.
I also share my life with three animals.
Archie, the most ridiculous hound one could meet. He manages to sneak into my bed every night and I wake to his over ripe testicles on my pillow. Mainly horrendous after a night of dreaming about PBear.
I think if push came to shove Archie probably would protect the family. It’s just I’d not lay my life on that. I’d not rely on in.
I have no faith in my dog.
I have to walk him every day. Twice. Long walks. No matter if it’s hailing, snowing, flooding and if I DARE to not walk him ONCE he stages a dirty protest. In all my downstairs rooms. Even if he has done his business.
I also have an Egyptian Mau called Alfie Bum Bum. Oliver named him. I’m one of those parents that falls into holes with my kids that I cannot get myself out of. It starts well “Hey kids, lets have a competition. Whoever picks the best name gets to name the new kitten” Now. Our new kitten was supposed to be a girl. So the kids came up with names. I think Mili’s name was ‘Mili’ Oliver however was just under 2. He was at the age where words are spoken but only parents or language experts can understand what those words mean. ‘Apple’ was Oliver’s choice.
I went to collect the cat but when I arrived I discovered a boy, who WAS going to be sent to Germany for breeding, had been cancelled. So. I immediately took the boy. He was LOVELY.
When I got home I decided that as Oliver had won the competition, and we could hardly call this regal looking boy Apple, Olli could make him.
It took 3 seconds.
“BumBum” said Oliver
“Ummm, really? What about Stanley?” I questioned
Followed by Mili helpfully piping up “Mum, he did win fair and square”
And so it was. Although I added ‘Alfie’ to the front end. Later, during a moment where Mili decided she wanted to become an act on Britain’s Got Talent, BumBums name grew to ‘The Magnificent Alfonso BumBum’ and it has remained thus ever since.
2 years later and much to the kids Dads horror, I turned up with a Bengal kitten.
“What the f**k is that?” He asked.
“I think Bumbum needed a friend. So I got this. TA-Da”
I was never really forgiven and that was BEFORE the dog appeared. I think the dog was the nail to be fair.
Anyway, Captain Jack – named obviously after Captain Jack Sparrow.
We decided to drop the sparrow. Given it was likely, at some point, he would murder one. It seemed like some kind of murderers trophy name. So we just stuck with Captain Jack.
Captain Jack was weird. He wasn’t a lap cat. In fact I once caught my friend Paula chasing him up the stairs saying “I just want a cuddle”
He was a kind of Lone Ranger. He loved us. Well he certainly tolerated us anyway. He was, and is, my favourite of all the cats I’ve known.
His fur was so thick and luxurious. He had large rosettes on his rich chestnut body.
Captain Jack was 2 years old before he brought anything home. I believe the ONLY reason bothered was because two days before the big event he had walked in on a conversation I was having with Miles. “There is something quite odd about owning a cat that looks like a leopard that hasn’t caught ANYTHING. Not even a tiny shrew”
Well, he appeared early a few mornings later with our dear garden Robin. The most trusting of all birds and one whom had been allowed to live by the twisted sadistic murderer that was Alfonso Bumbum.
I think he was shocked that wasn’t good enough and so a week later he appeared with a SEAGULL after that there was a pigeon and then he retired.
Killing wasn’t really his thing.
He was my cat. I adored him. But he became Oliver’s cat. Quite by accident.
It was Oliver’s birthday in January and he had had quite a few joint presents for Christmas. So his birthday was a bit light on gifts. Oliver kept asking where his presents were and after a whole morning of this I made another of my parenting errors. I presumed he would understand sarcasm.
Captain Jack strolled in and walked across my kitchen top. “TA-da!! There’s your present!!” I joked, pointing at Captain Jack. Oliver looked at me, his jaw hit the floor and his eyes lit up in that magical way that only a child’s eyes can.
“OMG?? REALLY??? Oh MUM that is the BEST present EVER!!!!!!!!!”
Well I couldn’t back down. When you’re a parent and you see that look you know to remove it would mean heartbreak and I certainly wasn’t ready for that.
So, Captain Jack became Oliver’s cat.
Strangely, since that day, Jack had taken to sleeping in Oliver’s bedroom. Oliver had been having nightmares and not wanting to sleep in his bed. But with Captain Jack to keep him company, his bed became a pirate ship and night time became easy again.
Oliver was the only one of us Jack seemed to care about.
So, it seems cruel that today it was Oliver that found him.
On the side of the road. Dead. He must have died instantly.
I wrapped him and placed him in a cool Spot in the house. The children, devastated, decided they wanted to see him one last time. In my typical fashion I spent a while giving the kids comfort as we stroked him and said goodbye. “He would have felt no pain. He’s quiet look at him. Peaceful. Calm” I was gutted.
“He’s not calm. He’s dead” said Oliver.
Today has been a day of learning. For both the children and I. For the children they have had perhaps one of the hardest lessons. Life isn’t endless. We live and we die. None of us last forever. Our best friends leave us. Our night time heroes. Our parents. Our loved ones.
At some point life ends and with it a sadness that is inconsolable.
For me? I’ve learnt that you can protect your children from most things but not from heartbreak.
I have never seen my children’s hearts break in front of my eyes. Where words and reasons don’t matter. Where you look into their eyes and see just sadness. Sadness that you can’t stop, you know it will get easier but you can’t explain that.
It’s been a hard day.
The only answer I guess is, never work with children and animals.
I’d be nothing without them.
RIP Captain Jack Sparrow.