The Childminder’s Cat

The boy only goes to his childminder one day a week since we moved house. It’s a bit of a pain to get there, but we thought it was worth it as he was really settled there and his little friends still go on that one same day as well.

The childminder had a lovely old cat, and she very sadly died this week. Mama S is understandably heartbroken (she was 17 years old!) and is finding it hard to deal with at the moment, so I decided to undertake the difficult task of explaining this to the boy.

Me “Rian, come and sit with me, I’ve got some sad news”

R: Eyeballs me

Me “You know how Mama S’s cat was very old? I’m afraid that she’s died”

Rian: “Will Mama S get a new cat?”

Me: “No, she’s feeling very sad, and I don’t think you should ask Mama S about the cat as it might upset her”

R: “Why?”

And so forth. His parting comment was “That hasn’t made me sad at all”

Well…I was surprised. I honestly thought he would be upset – if not about the cat, at least about Mama S being so sad. Is grief something we learn? Do children compartmentalise to the point that anything not directly affecting them can be blanked? I wonder how long before this changes (I don’t *think* the boy is a psychopath – he cries if I hurt myself, so there must be something there, right? Right??)

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