Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Protecting Kids from Reality

As a mom I want my kids to have the best possible life.  A happy and fulfilled life. I don't want them to be sad, disappointed, let down, and not have the things they want.  I know it isn't possible to protect them from everything, but I do the best I can. The reality is life happens and we can't protect them from it all.  When they are exposed to the disappointments of life I want to be able to help them cope with it.

I blogged earlier this week about Runty's death.  What I left out is that she got under the car as we were backing out of the driveway.  My husband saw her first and exclaimed "oh shit" as he stopped the car. I immediately looked up and saw Runty flailing around for a few seconds and then stop and lay still.

I had flashbacks of a time when I was younger and we were leaving for church and I looked up to see my kitten doing a similar dance.  My mom got out of the car, went in the house, got a shotgun and shot the cat to put it out of its misery.   I remember going from the hilarity of seeing my kitten do some crazy dance to realizing it was hurt and then dead.  Then we went to church.

The kids from the back seat could not see what was happening and we talked in coded words to shield them from the disaster.  We were on our way to my daughter's first basketball game and we didn't want her to have it clouded with disaster and tears.  She was already nervous.  I didn't want her to go through the situation.

Deciding together that Runty, having not moved again, was surely dead we left for the basketball game and I shed a few silent tears in the car. My daughter had a glorious game and scored even.

I kept myself distracted for the remainder of the evening and when we got home my son was sleeping in the car and my daughter with my parents.  I got out and picked up Runty's still body and took her behind the house and cried. 

The next morning, my son came in from feeding his rabbits crying, saying he couldn't find Runty, there was blood all over the driveway in the snow and surely she was dead.

I immediately started to cry again and told him yes Runty was dead.  He wanted to see her, but I lied and said I didn't know where she was.  I wanted to protect him.  I didn't want him to have to see her little still body that no longer held her sweet spirit. 

My daughter came home and asked about all the blood.  I cried with her all over again, but once again denied letting her see Runty.

Then my son found her.  He put all the puzzle pieces together and wanted to know if that was what had happened when we had stopped the car while pulling out of the driveway.   He wanted to know why I hadn't just told him. 

I realized that maybe trying to protect him from Runty's death wasn't the best thing.  Our emotions are what makes us human.  The high's in life are all the better for the lows that we experience.  I explained to him that I was trying to protect him and that maybe I was wrong for doing so.  I explained it wasn't anybody's fault Runty got ran over, we had all thought she was in a safe spot. 

He hugged me, we cried a little and decided where the best spot for burying Runty was.  We also discussed how now she could breath easier, walk better, and was no doubt smiling down at us from kitty heaven if there is such a place. 

What would you have done?


  1. I'm so sorry you went through this, on every level! What a tough situation for you all. Parenting involves a ton of hard decisions and we all do the best we can in the moment. Hugs to you all.

  2. Oh my gosh... I'm all teary eyed.
    I think that's a first instinct.. protect those kids. But life has a way of throwing bad news at them regardless. That's where you just protect them even more by loving on them :(
    I'm so sorry about the whole situation.

  3. I'm so sorry to hear about Runty! I don't know what I'd do in the situation, but I think you did the right thing.

    I vividly remember being around 9, and my parents telling me that one of my kittens "just died" and they didn't know why. I felt so bad, and I was worried that I'd done something wrong that had hurt her (I was a terrible worrier when I was little). It wasn't until years later that they told me my mom had accidentally run her over. I think that if they'd been honest with me (maybe not immediately, but within a few days or weeks) it would have saved me a lot of guilt. It's just a tough situation all around.

  4. I think you did the right thing by telling the kids in the end what happened. I think one of the best ways to learn how to cope properly (rather than letting emotions turn destructive toward self or others) is when parents or other trusted adults can guide kids through that process, as it sounds like you did in the end. It's so important to be honest with kids and death, whether we like it or not, is part of life.

  5. Oh Christy, I'm so sorry about Runty. No matter how it happened, for the kids the loss of a pet is hard to go through. It's hard to say what I would have done. I'd like to think I would have told them when it happened. I'm a sap and I wouldn't have made it out of the driveway without bawling, so I know that would have been a giveaway. I do agree with Katie above me that it is important to be open with kids about dealing with death, and guiding them with how to cope. Again, I'm so sorry about Runty :(

  6. This just is heartbreaking. I know you did the right thing all around, and I am sure Runty is playing happily in kitty Heaven.

  7. I'm so sorry. I think you made the right decision - you know your kids and what information they can handle and when. The loss of a pet is so hard at any age - you have to go with what feels right at the time. Hugs to all of you.

  8. Oh my gosh, what a difficult situation for you all. So sorry about Runty, and I'm glad your kiddos are doing ok with it all.

  9. Wow, I am so sorry. For all of this - your loss, how it happened, having to make tough decisions about how to handle it with your kids. That is really tough and it sounds like you did what you thought was best at each decision point. Hugs to you!

  10. So sorry to hear about Runty :( I can't imagine losing a pet under any circumstances. I think you did the absolute best you could do in regards to telling your kids- sparing your daughter the distress before her first game is something I would have done too. hugs to you

  11. So sorry this happened:( It's hard to know the right way to tell the kiddos. When we put our dog to sleep years ago, we didn't bring the kids and they ended up telling us they wished they had gone. When we finally had to put our cat down, the kids came with and it was hard. Such a sad loss but yes, Runty is in a happy place now:)

  12. Oh I'm so sorry. This is such a hard spot to be in and no matter what, you will always 2nd guess yourself. xoxo


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