Sunday, September 19, 2010

A trip to the river: Friday, September 17, 2010

Today, Owen, Pete, and I went to Los Amiales with 24 children and youth--12 boys,12 girls. Today was a holiday, as well as warm and sunny, so Los Amiales was packed with families enjoying the cool water and shady trees. It is a river where people swim, hang out, eat at the restaurants, and chill, floating on the inner-tubes in the water. Pete and I had been to Los Amiales in February when we took kids with our church group. However, this time was a bit different because there was a lower adult-child ratio and I definitely felt like the Mama of the group. 

I love going out with the children. They love to have experiences outside of the Casa gates and I love being able to share those experiences with the kids. I mentioned this in my post from the July trip as well, but I was reminded of how kids are on their best behavior when they go out. They know it’s a privilege, as not all children are allowed to go on outings, depending on their daily behavior. Our visit to Los Amiales was a beautiful time together and the kids seriously enjoyed playing in the water. 

At the end of our visit, D, a 10-year old girl, who I’ve grown close with over the last two visits, showed me a little tiny kitten that she had found. It was super tiny and seemed that it was even too young to be weaned. I was immediately captivated by this little being and asked the people around if they knew who it belonged to. The women who responded seemed to own a food business at the river. They showed me the mother, who was a calico, like the cat my family had growing up and still has. The mother seemed to not be giving much love, attention, or food to this little kitten. There was another cream-colored kitten, who was bigger than the one I had in my hands. Oddly enough, when my calico cat had kittens growing up, she had two that looked exactly like these two. The women said that I could have the kitten if I wanted her. She stared at me with her big blue eyes for a good ten seconds and I felt that she was telling me  “Feed Me!” or “Are you my mother?” or “Mama.” Oh, how great it would be to care for this little thing and have a pet while I’m here, I thought. The kids were emerging from the water and came over to fawn over the sweet kitten and cuddle with her too. I held her in my hands and pet her little face until she closed her eyes with contentment, and then I held her against my chest. Sweet thing. “What would Lupita think?” I asked one of the kids, who responded that she would say it’s fine if we took care of her. One big obstacle was that Pete is very allergic to cats. I called him over to see the sweet thing and asked what he thought about me taking her back, given we’re living separately and all. He expressed his reservations and said that he would not even be able to visit my apartment if a cat lived there. I was faced with a dilemma. Am I willing to risk the comfort and health of my beloved partner for the sake of caring for this sweet kitty? Is it meant to be that I take this kitty back and raise it, as this happens to be the year that Pete and I are living separately? I mulled over these thoughts and really wanted to keep the kitty. The kids were also strongly encouraging me to do so. Finally, I decided: people over animals. I did not want to risk this kitty coming between me and my partner. Pete was appreciative of my decision and I was glad I made it. The kids knew that Pete was allergic and that was the primary reason that I did not take it home. I feel that not only was this an important decision for me to make in terms of setting my priorities, but also another teaching moment for the kids about considering the needs and desires of others, particularly your loved ones, in making decisions. 
As the kids finished piling into the van (a 15 passenger van with 19 kids+2 adults, ) I went over to say my final goodbye to the kitty. I saw that the mother was nursing her other kitten. I found my little kitty, who was off walking around and placed her next to her mother. She began to nurse too. That confirmed that it was good decision to leave her in her home and that her mother was taking care of her after all. I took a picture of the mother nursing both kittens and showed it to the kids as affirmation of the fact that the kitty was meant to stay with her Mama. 

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