When our hobby farm was at full capacity, we milked several Nubian goats every day. One morning, when I started chores in our milking room, my 4-year-old daughter climbed onto a large wooden feed box at the back of the room and peered behind it.
“Mom, there’s a cat back there.”
Oh, great. There weren’t supposed to be any cats in that room. “Is it dead or alive?”
She studied the gap between the box and the wall. “Dead. Can I pick it up?”
“No!” Yeuck. What now? Why did my sweet husband go to work 40 miles away when it would have been nice to turn that dead cat over to him? I was home alone. Well, me and a curious preschooler.
“Leave it alone,” I added before she got any new ideas for exploration. She huffed and crossed her arms but stayed atop the box with her feet dangling on my side.
I drew in a long breath, avoiding any images of this dead cat smashed against the wall.
I had to deal with it on my own. Where there any empty feed bags around? How was I going to pick up this thing?
Maybe I milked a little slower that morning. Why did adults get to be the responsible ones?
Believing strongly in the principle that it’s better to face the horror than have it hanging over your head all day, I finished the barn chores and took a deep breath.
Hand sanitizer. Check. Thick trash bags. Check. Facemask. Check.
Back into the milking room I marched, my daughter close on my heels. She wouldn’t miss this for the world. Sigh.
I leaned slowly over the feed box and looked down the gap. There, tattered and soiled, lay a purple and white stuffed cat toy.
“You said it was dead,” I said to my daughter.
“Well, it’s not alive.”
A lesson on the nuances of words. Check.