Do your kids have a special stuffed animal or blanket?
Have you considered what you would do if it was lost?
When we were younger, my brother who is five years younger than me, had a favourite stuffed dog. If I remember correctly it was the stuffed dog that my dad and I stopped to buy at the hospital gift shop as a gift for me to take to my new baby brother the first time I met him. I named him Bright. He was a brown and white dog and in my brilliance I combined the words brown and white! Bright went everywhere with him for many years. I think either my mum or brother still have Bright around, which is a remarkable achievement.
We left him behind in at least one hotel during our summer travels. I remember the sense of panic of discovering Bright was not with us in the car. My mum found somewhere that she could call the hotel and ask if they had found Bright in our room. They had found him and the hotel owner or manager shipped Bright home for us so he was there when we arrived, much to everyone's relief.
I had memories of that incident stirred up several weeks ago when my daughters and I got home from a movie night at school and we discovered that my daughter's favourite bear was missing.
Each of our girls have favourite stuffed animals or dolls. my three year old has a couple of dolls that she carries around and that often travel with us. She isn't specifically tied to one of them over others though. She has a few favourites and she alternates between them depending on the day and week. Our eight year old was securing attached to her striped pink lion when she was younger. Now she has moved on to dolls, but they don't often sleep with her or get carried everywhere with her. When she was younger we definitely had a few instances of the lion being lost or left behind and the resulting parental panic about what to do if the loss was permanent.
Our ten year old on the other hand has a blue bear that has always been and continues to be her favourite. As the first born she received many, many stuffed animals as gifts when she was born we picked a few that we put in her crib with her and took with us when travelling. She was interested in them, but not attached to them. Then one day in a store, she was crying and upset and one of the staff gave her a bear, which calmed her down. When we tried to return it, we were told to keep it. Ever since that bear has been her favourite companion.
This blue bear is a steady companion, through thick and thin. He is her playmate and confidant. He has comforted her through injuries and anxieties. He is her best and most loyal friend. He isn't included in as many activities these days and can typically be found sitting on the living room couch during the day. He does however go with her anytime there is sleep involved - or frankly pyjamas.
That was the situation a few weeks ago. We had a movie night at school and because our kids opted to wear their pyjamas and bring sleeping bags to sit/lay on to watch the movie, the blue bear came with us. We had brought our wagon with us to carry the sleeping bags, etc so at the end of the event, we loaded everything into the wagon and headed home. When we got home and unloaded everything the bear was missing. This bear, who means everything, was missing. She was tired and the fact that he had somehow disappeared on our way home was a totally disorienting experience for her. I don't think she could process what had happened. I knew that he had clearly fallen out along the way so I set off on my journey retracing our steps back to school.
My biggest concern as I hurried back to school was that one of the other kids would pick up the bear and that it wouldn't be until the following week at the earliest before we were able to get him back, or longer if the kid/parents forgot to bring him back to the school. This is a bear that has been a lost bear before and those disappearances concerned me so greatly that I took to searching e-bay and other sites to see if I could find a back up bear. I was never successful in my searches.
I was pretty sure where I would find our lost bear. At the same time I was fighting back a rising sense of panic and building the conversation in my head that I would have with my daughter if it turned out that her friend and companion over the past ten years had disappeared.
Mostly I didn't want to return home and have my daughter feel like I had failed her in this most important mission. I wanted to be her hero who returned with the lost treasure. I also desperately wanted to avoid the heartbreak that would occur if I was unsuccessful in my quest.
As it turned out, the lost bear became a found bear. He was on the lawn of the school lying amongst the leaves as I expected. We have cut across the front lawn of the school bumping the wagon along behind us. The rest of the journey home had been along the sidewalk so I thought the bumpy ride at the beginning was the most likely place for the the bear to have fallen out. I was happy to be proven right. I returned home with the blue bear and all was right with the world again.
We have never again spoken of this incident...
Have you ever had to help your child come to terms with the loss of a favoured stuffed animal or doll?