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November 23, 2009


Susanna a.k.a. Cheap Like Me

Oh, making those choices is hard! I have to confess my first impulse is to rush out and replace the cat (in this example ... plus I LOVE the cat's name! :). I try to restrain myself to be a better parent. My child sounds like yours ... generally responsible, and she is also very sensitive and truly might be heartbroken in a case like this. So I might compromise and say yes, we can get another, IF she pitches in in some way to replace it. My daughter gets allowance and might have to pay for it herself, or contribute by doing a set amount of extra chores or something like that to pay us back for it, since we already bought one. She would say "but it isn't my fault I lost it!" and we would say "but it isn't OUR fault either!"


Wow. Big question. Not a parent, so it's hard to say, but if it were me, I don't think I'd replace Susanna. Death and loss are a part of life and, sadly, Lila will know pets, friends, and family who move on. When I was about Lila's age, we had three cats and all three died within 12 months of each other. Since my cats were my best friends, it was a very hard year for me, but it taught me that living beings cannot be replaced and that we should be happy for the moments we had with them instead of sad that they are gone. A hard lesson, one that I'm sure all parents wish their children never had to experience firsthand, but one that we all must learn.

That said, I think it might be a good idea to get Lila a different toy (after a sufficient mourning period). When we experience loss, it's important to feel sadness and acceptance but then we need to force ourselves to move on. I think the real lesson is that once Susanna is gone, she's gone, but she'll live on in Lila's memory. Lila can't change what happened, but she can decide what happens next: Susanna would want her to shower another lucky stuffed animal with love, and it will be good for her to realize that, while loss is sad and it hurts, time heals many wounds.


I'm not a parent, but I think I would go ahead and get her another one. As a 28 year old, I still get cranky when I'm hungry, and as you said, she doesn't normally throw tantrums, and she is usually responsible with her toys. Everyone can have an "off" day. I do like Susanna aka cheap like me's idea of having her do something to repay you.


I agree, this kind of thing is one of the toughest things about parenting. We want to do everything to make our children happy, but we have an obligation to help them understand the bigger lessons life has to teach us, often in not-so-simple terms. Sometimes I feel like SUCH a hard-ass because I don't necessarilly do the easy thing (buy another one). With love in my heart, and explanations where available, I sometimes manage to make the tough choice. In this case, I'd go with the explanation, the natural consequence, in part because, if your daughter is like ours, she probably already has too much...plenty of lovies with which to replace this once-favorite kitty. And maybe, by helping her understand and move on, that will help her later in life hang on where she can, and move on when it's time.

Leigh Shulman

I know! I have always been the hardass in our family. And many, including Noah, my parents and in-laws, quietly but clearly make their opinion felt.

It's probably a good thing, though, that there's a balance to my own view as long as those who disagree with me do so gently. I don't like to feel like I'm fighting.

Thanks for your comment, Jen. Good to see you here and to read your blog as well.


Thanks, Leigh. I've been reading you for a couple of months now and enjoying your take and your travels. Keep on posting! I may sit in the darkened corner undetected, but I'll chime in if you ask...or if I feel particularly compelled. Meanwhile, I look forward to enjoying more of your posts.

Leigh Shulman

It's also my first reaction to run and replace, but then I also know that doing so not only affects -- perhaps -- her long term ability to deal with loss, it also creates a situation in which Lila demands what she wants when she wants it. It never hurts to work a bit for what you want. Again, bc that's a part of life too.

We recently implemented a sticker chart system that I wrote about on Matador


I still have doubts about it for many reasons, but this last week, she earned her 5th sticker and chose to go back to see if she could get another Susanna. Luckily, the Susanna cats were still the prize of the week.

As for the name, so funny. I promise she chose this on her own. Maybe she heard me talking about you? I dunno. But I certainly think about you every time she mentioned her little cat.

Leigh Shulman

That was really beautifully said.

A couple people here began their comments with "I'm not a parent." And I know many parents are apt to dismiss parental advice from non-parents. And yes, sometimes, you really don't know unless you're in a situation.

I find, though, many times, non-parents have a viewpoint that goes beyond the scope of just the parent-child relationship. Erin, your response is a perfect example of that.

Leigh Shulman

Undetected? Not at all. I'm glad you posted so I know you're there.

Again, thank you for your comments. As you probably know, I love hearing from the people who read this blog. Makes it a conversation and community, instead of just a one way thing.


I have an only child, too & she is now 16 y/o. I have always been pretty much the lightweight between hubby & myself. He can give in on occasion, though. LOL! Being an only child, she hasn't alwys gotten everything she wanted either. Neither one of us really spoiled her with stuff, but with love, always. It was always the rest of the family that spoiled her. That was ok as long as she knew she wasn't going to get things by acting out. I am happy to say she has grown up to be quite a beautiful & caring young lady, which I know your Lila will be as well. (((HUGS)))

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