by >>^..^<< Kat
Children (of all ages) need answers.
|Cindy said the same thing every day for the last few months since her favorite pet died. “I miss Buttons.”
Buttons was her baby lamb, and he and Cindy had spent every waking minute together since his birth. Buttons and Cindy were the best of friends.
Cindy wanted to know why her best friend had died. Mama knew what was on Cindy’s mind, but hadn’t been able give the little girl a reason. Mama had tried many times to help Cindy understand, and today she had a special reason to try again.
Buttons didn’t get sick. He just went to sleep one night and didn’t wake up. Cindy found this hard to accept. She wanted to know if she had done something wrong.
It was early in the morning, and Cindy and Mama were on their way to the chicken coop to fetch the eggs. Mama thought this might be a good time to try to help Cindy understand that sometimes there is no reason why someone we love goes away.
As they collected the eggs, Mama asked “Cindy, do you remember last Spring when all the baby chicks were scurrying around the barnyard?”
Cindy’s face lit up. “Oh, yes,” she said, “there were so many I was afraid I would step on them!”
“I remember,” Mama said with a smile. “You know, they didn’t all grow up. We don’t have as many chickens as there were chicks,” she hinted.
Cindy thought about that. “Papa told me some of them might be too little to live very long.” Mama nodded in agreement.
Next, they went into the barn where Papa was milking the cow. “Good morning,” called Papa.
“Good morning, Papa,” Cindy sang back, running to kiss him on the cheek.
Mama smiled. “Good morning.” Then she started hinting again, “Cindy, do you remember the litter of kittens Tabby cat had last Spring?”
Tabby, being such a sensible creature, had always made it a point to stay out of the way of the little girl with the curious hands. Cindy had managed to see the kittens, though, with Papa's help.
“I remember,” Cindy answered. Tabby had six cute little kittens, all shapes and sizes and colors. Cindy was amazed that none of them looked alike. She wanted to play with them, but she knew Tabby wouldn't like it. Papa and Tabby were old friends, so he could show her the kittens.
“I remember Mr. Baker took one home with him to keep mice out of the barn, and the twins down the lane each took one as a pet,” she said.
“That’s right,” Mama began, “but Tabby had six kittens. Where are the other three?”
Cindy thought about it. She knew one of Tabby’s kittens had grown up to be Sam, the long slinky gray tom-cat, and one was the yellow calico that Papa called Prissy. “I don’t know where the tiny black one is,” she said after thinking about it. “I haven’t seen him for quite a while. I remember Papa, you called him the runt. What is a runt?”
Papa knew how much Mama wanted to help Cindy understand. “A runt,” he began, “is an animal that is smaller than the rest of the litter. The runt may grow up to be as big and strong as the rest of the litter, but sometimes, as with the little black kitten, they are not strong enough. That’s what happened to Buttons, you know. He just wasn’t strong enough.”
Mama watched as Cindy thought about what had happened to Buttons and the black kitten. A tear rolled down her cheek, but she knew it was true. There was nothing anyone could have done. Most of all, it was not her fault that Buttons had to go away. He just wasn’t strong enough to grow up.
Mama and Papa each took one of Cindy’s hands and took her to the back of the barn. They had a secret to share with the little girl.
“Cindy,” Papa began, “I know no one can take Button’s place in your heart.” Mama reached into one of the corn cribs where Patches the dog was hiding and picked up a brand new puppy. Papa continued, “BUT, there is someone here who wants to be your friend.”
Cindy was so surprised she squealed, “A puppy!” The puppy seemed to be just as delighted with his new little girl, licking her hands and chin. “I’ll take such good care of him, Mama. Papa, will he have to stay in the barn? What is his name?”
Mama and Papa were laughing. “Slow down little one! He will love whatever name you give him. We can talk about it over breakfast. Right now, though, he has to stay with his mama for a while longer.”
Cindy held the puppy close for a minute longer before giving him back to his mama. “She’s giving him his breakfast, Mama.”
“Yes, little one, and it is time we had ours. Have you thought of a name for him?”
“Not yet,” Cindy answered. Cindy had a lot to think about this morning. She still missed Buttons, but she would tell Jasper all about him. “Jasper,” Cindy said out loud, smiling. “His name is Jasper.”