I don't deny that I'm a bit of a TV-watcher. Now that being said, I'm a little choosy when it comes down to what I watch. I tend to favor dramas (Mad Men) over comedies (Modern Family), but I appreciate it when they meet in the middle (Dexter). But over the past thirteen weeks I've looked forward to Sunday night specifically for a little something called Breaking Bad. I'll warn you right now: if you haven't seen this show, but even think you may at some point, stop reading now. I'm serious. This season had me on pins and needles for 53 minutes each Sunday. I truly believe my wife is quite entertained by watching me watch the show. Each episode found a way to top the next and over four seasons I've seen a relaitively normal and sympathetic character evolve into something utterly reprehensible and I just can't stop watching. The last episode concluded with a major player being killed off in a particularly fitting, albiet gruesome, way that reminded me a little of a foam toy, my oldest son, and a lesson about death. It sounds dark, but it has a happy ending, I assure you.
A couple months back we had to take our black-lab, Edgar, into the vet to have this lump removed. It was nothing major, though it did involve the doc shaving what amounted to a US Letter-sized patch of fur off and about 17 stitches. While my wife and oldest son were there, the vet handed Miles a small, white, toy cat. It was squishy and had the name of some pharacuetical imprinted on it's back. It's basically a little chotsky that some rep handed the vet when he or she dropped off a box off pills. Be that as it may, Miles latched on to this little, fake feline and named it Spetz. Spetz came home with him and sat on his bedside table. Night after night, we'd tuck Miles in and he'd make certain we'd say goodnight to Spetz.
Then one day, the unthinkable occured.
I came home from the office to something deeply disturbing. At some point, Miles' little brother had chewed off Spetz's little foam face until it resembled something of a cross between Harvey Dent and Catwoman. If it were a character in Breaking Bad, it would have been Gus's final scene. Let's leave it at that. Miles asked if I'd draw a new face on Spetz and I assured him I'd try while he took his shower. For the record, I did try. The results were less than spectacualr though and I tossed what was left of Spetz into the garbage. (A note to future parents, don't toss anything to which your child is attached, no matter what's its condition, into the trash. At the very least, let them know that if the face you draw on their headless cat may not work out, and should that occur you're going to have to say goodbye).
Later that night Miles asked were Spetz was and I told him that we had to get rid of him becuase he was different. Okay, that's not exactly what I said, but it rang with that level of ugliness to him. There was crying. Inconsolable crying. So I did what I thought was best: I treated Spetz like a real cat too.
Miles (sobbing into the sofa): "Why did he have to go away?"
Me: "It was just his time to go, buddy."
Miles: "But I didn't want him to go."
Me: "You know what might help? Talking about some of the things we like most about Spetz."
Miles: "Like what?"
Me: "Like how he kept you company every night, and listened to your all your music."
Miles (sobbing a little less): "He was also really funny."
Me (trying not to act too confused): "Ummm...yeah. He really was."
Miles (crying turning to lauging): "He used to tell me to get up in the middle of the night and run down the hall."
Me (a little scared and concerned at this point and flashing back to the scene in A.I. were David goes into his parent's room in the middle of the night with scissors to cut off a lock of his mom's hair): "Spetz was so funny! He was a pretty good cat, wasn't he?"
Miles: "He was."
Life went on has it does for the next month or so. We'd talk about Spetz the way one does when speaking of a relative you don't see much, but think of with great affection. Then one day, my lady asked if I'd make a trip to the vet to get some flea and tick medicine for Edgar. Oh...and while I was there "do you think you could ask for another Spetz?" I knew they wouldn't have any more so I happily agreed.
So when I asked the receptionist at the vet's office if she had any of those 'little, white, squishy cats', she looked at me a little funny for one second. And then she disapeared to the back for a few moments. When she returned, she announced that I was in luck. "This is our last one," she said as she placed another Spetz on the counter. I smiled, paid for the medication, left and got into my truck. I then took a photo of Spetz and sent it to my lady via text message. Her response:
Yes way. This however, brought up a new set of questions. Do I explain that Spetz came back after reconstructive surgery? Do I pass it off like nothing happened? As I drove home I realized what a predicament this really was. We sort of had some closure with Spetz, and I felt it was sort of good practice for a four-year-old to deal with the death of a pet or loved one.
So when I got home we decided to just let the chips fall where they may. I told Miles to reach into my jacket pocket. His eyes lit up as he pulled out the new cat. He took another step back and I asked what he thought.
Me: "What do you think, big guy?"
Miles: "It's Spetz Two."
Yep, Spetz Two. That's how the mind of a kid works. Spetz one minute, Spetz Two the next. It's pretty amazing how quickly the mind transitions from closure to the next squishy cat.
So what's the takeaway? What's the big lesson learned here? I'm going to go with make sure to keep all edible toys out of reach of two-year-olds.