Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Many children have a special little toy or blanket that they are particularly attached to, and while all of my girls were pacifier kids, none of the older two were very attached to any one of their millions of soft fluffy comforting things. The baby, however, has the lovey. The lovey is a small, square, brown blanket with a plush owl's head. It is not one of the little blankets with the satin edges; it is just brown and soft, and big enough to cover the baby's face when she's getting sleepy. While these features may be enough to snuggle any other child into a dreaming stupor, they were useless to the baby without the tag. There is a small tag in one corner, just like a t-shirt tag, and this was what made the lovey special, magical, even. In her itty bitty days, I noticed the baby held onto my shirt when she slept, and as it impossible (as much as I'd have loved for it to be otherwise) to accomplish much of anything while holding a sleeping baby, I thought I'd give her something else to hold onto - enter the lovey. It had been a gift to one of the other girls in their baby days, and as it was clean and within reach, this was what I gave the baby to hold onto. Gradually, she began to look for and expect the lovey come sleepy time, and as it made laying her down for naps SOOOO much easier, I didn't fight it. Lots of babies have special blankets, and now so did mine. Over time, the baby began to explore the lovey - looking at it's head, rubbing it on her cheeks, putting it in her mouth -and it was on one of these occasions that the baby found the tag. She rubbed it between her fingers, sucked on it a little, and then... jabbed it in her eye. And liked it. At first I thought it was kind of funny, like she was doing it on accident and couldn't get it to do what she really wanted, but I soon came to realize that being stuffed in her eyeball (eyelids open, people!) was exactly what she wanted the lovey's tag to be doing. It was weird, but by now, she loved the lovey and it came everywhere, and was washed often. Anytime the baby started getting tired, she'd search out the lovey, plop down somewhere, and rub the tag all over her eye, humming softly on her pacifier (they became a unit, team pacer-lovey). I got used to it, as creepy as it was to see an infant intentionally impaling herself in the eye with a slobbery blanket tag (it frequently pulled double duty as eye jabber and substitute pacifier), but what parent can deny their child their most treasured possession? As she got a bit older and started saying a few little words, she even began to generously offer the lovey tag for you to poke your own eye with by smashing it on your face saying "eye, eye, eye?". Very sweet, but I'll pass. Now, the baby is 18 months old, and I have to say, I have done an excellent job caring for the lovey. It is washed regularly, has never been left at anyone's house, and is always nearby come bedtime. The baby brings it everywhere, and it has never been lost. Until last week. Upon returning from a quick trip for toilet paper, I realize the lovey is not accounted for. I check the car seats, check the sidewalk, check under the car, check in the car door, storage cubbies, trunk, glove compartment, stroller (which wasn't even used), and find no lovey. A bit of panic wells up, as nap time is in the very near future, and I have made the mistake of putting the lovey in the washing machine too close to naptime and it does not go well. No lovey generally means no nap. The store is just across the street, so I call first to see if anyone has turned in a nasty brown rag that is very special to my daughter, and have no luck, so I decide to just go back and look myself. I cruise the parking lot scanning the spaces for a brown lump under one of the cars, no doubt looking like some scary stalker lady to the shoppers who are oblivious to my real distress. No lovey. Park the car, go inside, up and down every aisle, behind registers, in the bathroom, customer service, no dice. Go home, double check every place that has already been torn apart in search of the lovey and come up both empty handed, and now super panicked as I remember that we leave in two days to fly back to Denver. This is not looking good. How will I survive a plane ride (by myself with the kids) without the lovey to comfort and quiet the baby? A new sense of urgency wells up and I turn the whole house and car upside down looking for that stupid dirty owl thing! Call the store! No lovey! Call a few other places I may or may not have been to in the last few days! No lovey! Panic! Go to the store and buy a sort of similar but not really NEW lovey! This will have to do. We leave in two days. I try my best to make the new lovey seem as exciting and soft and wonderful as I can, and the baby buys it - until she is tired, and then it is just another thing that is not the real lovey. She even calls for the lovey and looks for it (my heart is cracking and little chips are falling out here). She cries, and I do too, a little, but eventually, she falls asleep. For the next two days before we leave I am on a continuous hunt for the lovey, and before I know it, travel day has arrived, and I have to give up on finding the lovey in time. Of course, the baby screams on the plane and sleeps terribly while we are away, but then, finally, a little respite comes on the flight home when she actually snuggles the new lovey and falls asleep. I sigh to myself, happy that she is ok with the new lovey, but also a little sad inside that the real lovey, a piece of her little babyhood, is gone. She carried it everywhere - to bed, to church, across the country when we moved - and I lose it on a trip to buy toilet paper at the store across the street. A tiny part of me is actually mourning over the loss of the lovey. After our trip, we do the routine unpacking and laundry, and as we are out of all food except for saltines and pickles, I head across the street for some grocery shopping. As we are about to leave the store, we pass customer service and I think to myself that I might as well ask if a little brown owl blanket has been turned in. It has been a week and a half by now, but I figure this will be my last effort, and then I'll forget about the lovey. The lady at the counter sad frowns, as I am sure she has her own children with smelly objects of affection, and disappears into the back. I sigh, thinking "oh, well, I guess that's it", when she emerges with a soft, brown, owl blanket. The baby recognizes the lovey and reaches for it right away, and I swear tiny hearts were coming out of her eyes. She snuggles in, finds the tag, and ever so lovingly, jabs it right in her eye.