There are many things I miss about when the kids were younger, but not being able to find the thing they cherished the most, and required in order to go to bed, is not one of them.
That little bear above has been the reason for many tears and conflicts in our home. Mr. Bear was left at restaurants, relatives' homes, hotels, and even in Hawaii. Imagine being in the middle of the long trip home from Hawaii and realizing the damn bear is missing? During a layover in San Francisco we called the hotel to begin the search, but had no resolution when we boarded the plane for the next leg of our trip home. A six hour trip where we drank beer and assured Connor that Mr. Bear just wanted a little more vacation time. The calls started up again once we got home and I finally found a person in housekeeping who was willing to try and track down Mr. Bear. We, of course, never admitted to Connor that it was possible he would never see Mr. Bear again. While waiting to hear back from the hotel we scoured the Internet looking for a replacement, but with no success. Fortunately, the story ends on a good note and the bear enjoyed an expensive ride home aboard a Federal Express plane.
Do you know any kids, maybe your own, who had a deep attachment, maybe even an obsession, with a stuffed animal, pillow or blanket when they were young? If yes, then you've been in a similar situation many times, venturing out at any hour of the day or night to retrieve the lost treasure. What's confusing to me is if they love these things so much why do they leave them everywhere? Oh yeah, you can't live without your (insert name), but you have no idea where you left it! What you want to say to the crying kid is, "What if I left you everywhere we went?" "How would that make you feel?" I know that's inappropriate, but that's what I wanted to say every time we went through the Missing Mr. Bear Drill. What? That's harsh? Sorry, did I say this was a blog where you might find good Parenting Tips?
What's also confusing to me is how kids decide what "thing" is going to be their ultimate prize possession. For example, take a look at Connor's bear, it's made from a scratchy terry cloth fabric and has "Baby's First Christmas" stitched on it. A treasure? I don't think so, and I have no idea where that bear came from, but it looks like something I threw in the cart at CVS on Christmas Eve when I was grabbing stocking stuffers.
I've also observed that the prize possession of one child is the one thing another child wants most in the world. Taylor was attached to a Barney pillow that was the size of a pillowcase. There was not much drama around Taylor's pillow except that his cousin wanted it and, once he figured that out, he took every opportunity to dangle the forbidden fruit in front of her. One Halloween a little girl came to the door with a Barney pillowcase as her candy bag and, like any parent looking to avoid the next potential meltdown, Tom gave the little girl $20 for the pillowcase. After giving the newly acquired Barney pillowcase to Taylor's cousin she promptly lost interest in all things Barney. It really is true, you only want what you cannot have. As a side bar, I'm still impressed with that little girl's willingness to give up her candy bag for $20.
Taylor's deal was binky's (aka pacifiers) of which we had about 50 at any given time. We had them stashed everywhere, every room in the house, every car, purses, briefcases, jackets, etc. In fact, I recently spotted some binky's in Tom's underwear drawer (you'll recall that's also where I found his secret scissors). We approached the inventory of binky's like we did milk, "I'm going to the store do we need any binky's?"
My nephew lost his ReRe, a pink Princess Belle blanket, on a trip to Ocean City's boardwalk. As we were walking back to the car after a fun night at the rides my nephew asked, "Where's ReRe?" You know what followed. Finger pointing and screaming about who had ReRe last. My sister and I ran back to the pier and frantically checked with all of the ride operators and after about 30 minutes we found ReRe with the guy selling ride tickets, no doubt turned in by a kind soul who understood someone would come looking for that raggedy blanket.
When I look back on the hoops we jumped through to find Mr. Bear, to get the kids to go to bed, to eat, to be good in the car or out to dinner, I hardly recognize those people. Were we really so lame? How did we let those little jerks get the best of us? Who knows, but if we're lucky enough to become grandparents one day we'll get another opportunity to be exploited and manipulated. Perfect. We're good in those roles.
For now, I'm just grateful that we no longer have to wonder Where's the Bear?