Yesterday I had to take Alex (the cat) back to the vet. He'd been in last Friday and was on antibiotics for crystals in his urinary tract, but after an initial rally over the weekend was fading fast. He needed sedation and an emergency catherterization procedure, and I had to leave him there overnight. (I'm also going on a last-minute work trip today and won't be back for a few days, so he's staying at the animal hospital.)
My kids were with their dad when it all happened, so I had to explain the situation later. That Alex was really, really sick. That he had to have a procedure that *might* save him, but might not. And that it was possible that he wasn't going to make it through the procedure.
My instinct is always to be truthful and straightforward with my kids. But also to prioritize for them, since they don't know the relative risks and probabilities. So I told my son that Alex was very sick, but emphasized that the procedure was probably going to save him. I told him there was a chance it might not, but tries to stick with the odds.
I want him to feel like people with knowledge and practice and good effort are doing everything they can to help Alex, so he doesn't need to worry. But that even when we do everything we can, sometimes bad things happen, and we can get through them.
I don't know if I'm doing the right thing by being this honest. But I don't want him to feel like I hide things from him. I heard him trying to explain things to Blossom, our other cat, again this morning (she's really freaked out that Alex is gone, and that he was so sick and then he didn't come back with me).
What do you think? Am I being too adult for an 8-year-old (a precocious one, granted)? His younger brother spent the night at their dad's, so I didn't mention anything about Alex to him yet.
Somehow it seems like this would be easier if I weren't getting on a plane today. But maybe my son's being with his dad having fun all weekend and not in our Alex-free apartment is going to help him not worry.