Dear Mom and Dad,
It’s not difficult to take care of a cat. All you’ve got to do is make sure his food bowl is not empty, change out his water, and occasionally clean his litter box. It’s definitely less effort than raising four children, but you guys managed that and we all turned out great. Well, we all turned out pretty decent. Either way, it’s a hell of a lot simpler to keep a cat alive. There was no need to give away my cat and absolutely no need to give Rajah away without even telling me. I know that you guys are good people and you try your best. But think about the example you have set for your children through these actions.
As you know, I got Rajah in high school when he was just an itty bitty kitty that I could pick up with one hand. He’d follow me around the house, getting all the way up the stairs by the time I was ready to come down again, sleeping in my bed, watching movies with me and everything else he did. He would sit with me while I did homework and occasionally he wanted play time and my homework would have rips and pen marks from where he tried to help. I even taught him how to play tag. I would run around the house and he would chase me and then unexpectedly I would turn around and run at him at which point he turned and ran the opposite direction. He wasn’t always the brightest cat, there were times I accidentally scared him and he would run straight into my shin, leaving us both a little hurt. He got confused by hearing my voice on the phone and then would try to climb over dad to figure out where it was coming from. Overall though, he meant well. He and I were happy. Yet, you guys gave him away and didn’t tell me. We spent four days together in Montreal and my cousin even asked me how my cat was doing. I then looked at dad and said “As far as I know Rajah is doing great” to which dad replied “yes, he’s doing well.” I guess you really didn’t lie because he was doing well, you just deceivingly left out the part where he’s not doing well at our house. It was only when we got back to Grand Rapids and I walked into our house yelling “Rajah” did you decide to quietly mention, similar to a child who knows he’s done something wrong, that you gave him away.
This is not an isolated incident either. We had one of the biggest trampolines in the neighborhood. When I was younger, the neighborhood gang would gather on the trampoline and play various games or stick a sprinkler underneath it and slide around into each other (there were never any serious injuries, as we were semi-intelligent children). After having knee surgery at age 14, my trampoline use was limited for a while but I planned on returning to my former back flipping glory, as I had told you. A little while later I returned from school and I immediately recognized an empty spot in our yard. The trampoline was gone. Just poof, no more trampoline. I would never have gone to school that day had I known such betrayal was to take place.
You didn’t just give away a cat. You gave away a friend. Rajah interacted with me more than my three siblings do combined. I’ll admit it, I’m occasionally an angry and unpleasant person but that anger is so much more intensified when I come back to Grand Rapids, walk into our house, and expect my cat to run around the corner. It may be, in part, why I act like a little brat when I’m home. You get angry at me for being angry, and I get angry at you for giving away my cat and the cycle continues every time I come home. This helps no one. Going back to Grand Rapids is only a reminder that that ridiculous grey ball of fur is not there to greet me and you are the only ones to blame.
These two experiences have created distrust between you and I. How do I believe that I can trust you with anything I value? I know you believe you’re doing what you think is best for me or our family, but Rajah was bothering no one. You not only lied to me, but manipulated me. Your reasoning for giving him away was that he was too difficult to take care of and he bothered mom when she was home alone. As I pointed out earlier, cats are not difficult to take care of and definitely not compared to the four children you guys raised. Bisam (my brother) would clean out his litter meaning all you guys would have to do is refill his food bow when it was empty. He bothered mom because he loved people. Did four young kids not bother mom when they were young and she was home alone? You didn’t give us away even though that may have been convenient. You are as well aware as I, that our family members, like so many other families, have just lost some of their marbles. We’re a little dysfunctional and in that dysfunction, I had this small cute thing that loved me, which you ripped out of my arms. I’m unclear if you simply didn’t realize what a small animal could mean to someone or if you didn’t care. You guys knew you were doing something wrong because of the way you told me, in such a childlike manner. Had you had total confidence in your actions you would have told me the minute you gave him away. Instead you waited until it was absolutely necessary to tell me and when I was already home so I couldn’t even refuse to come back to Grand Rapids. You manipulated me in to going to Montreal with you because you knew I wanted to see Rajah when we got to Grand Rapids. You knew that if you told me, I wouldn’t have gone to Montreal with you.
I call upon all parents to really think about the examples you are setting for your children. As far as it concerns my parents, they can deceit me and withhold information, but as soon as I do that to them I am an ungrateful and disrespectful child. This is the example you have set for me and through your actions you have shown that what I want doesn’t matter if it does not agree with what you want. You’ve shown that I don’t have to discuss things with people, even if it’ll affect them. You exemplified that my words do not always have to match my actions. You exemplified that it’s not important to tell people close to me anything until I’ve already manipulated them into something. Is this how you want me to treat other people? Treat my children?
Is it not logical to say that what I see my parents doing, is what I will mimic as a parent. As a parent, I’m sure you hope that your child will be a better person than you, even if you’re already a great person, you want them to be the best. In order for them to be good people, you have to teach them good things and half of the teaching process is making sure your actions represent how you want them to act. It is unfair and confusing for parent’s actions to go against their words. Your words as parents won’t mean much to a child if you’re doing something other than what you tell them. On top of that, not explaining to your children why you have done certain things simply adds to the confusion. The argument “parents know best” helps no one. I beg of you to properly explain why you have done something. If you believe you have done the right thing, then why should your child not understand why it is the right thing? Leaving them with no information will only make them angry, which will make you angry.
I’m not trying to degrade your value as parents. I know that you guys have done the best you can and I know, realize, and am thankful for all that you have done. I know you guys try to give us everything we want and I know that we always want more than we have. We’re young and kids, we’re going to be ungrateful sometimes. As I get older, I recognize more and more the opportunities I had as a child that some didn’t get. But you guys need to understand that I will always know people who get more than I do. They get nice laptops and cars, they get to go on vacations and don’t have to work while they’re at school. I recognize that I’m not going to get the same thing as everyone else and I will always want more than I have, but I’m not ungrateful or forgetful for what I already do have. What I did have was a cat. He wasn’t expensive or hard to take care of, but he had incredible value to me. You didn’t take away an object, you took away something I valued very highly, which as parents, I never suspected you would.
An Open Letter to the People Who Gave Away my Cat
Dear Mom and Dad,