Thank you all for coming. I’m sure my toddler will appreciate it years from now, when we show him pictures and explain everything, since he’s barely three and doesn’t understand what it’s all about and won’t remember a single moment.
It’s been a tough couple of days since Lovey left us, particularly for Detective Munch, who has lost his sidekick, his snot rag, his bunk-mate, his whipping boy, his partner-in-crime, his napkin…
His best friend.
It’s a sad day, but we’re here to celebrate a life well-lived, not mourn an untimely – but inevitable – passing. Let’s face it, if Lovey hadn’t been lost, he probably would’ve disintegrated; dude was FILTHY. (By which I mean: well-loved.)
Lion Lovey has ascended to the great toy store in the sky, where he is surely comforting some other little boy who needs him even more than mine did. Unless some grimy thief stole him from the Target where he was last seen, in which case the formerly worshipped blankie/stuffed animal thing’s existence has likely been reduced to something like Jesse Pinkman’s in the last few episodes of Breaking Bad.
But stop looking so glum; this is a party! By which I mean if my kid doesn’t stop screaming about his lost plush handkerchief-that’s-kinda-sorta-in-the-shape-of-a-lion thing I won’t stop drinking until he falls sleep. Which makes it no different from any other day with a toddler, really.
Strangely, it’s we parents who are usually most devastated by the loss of a child’s favorite plaything. I honestly thought – hoped, really – that my son would have Lovey forever, that it would be something we kept for decades – even at its most threadbare, even when he had matured well beyond it. If you have a child, or once were a child, or will one day become a child – shout out to Benjamin Button! – odds are you have experienced, one way or another, the phenomenon of the strong attachment to one particular toy or blankie or stuffed animal. (Are you reading this on your smartphone right now? How would you feel if you lost that? Exactly.)
For our kids, those toys and blankies and stuffed animals are reminders of home; reminders of us; reminders of love and safety. For us, witnessing the bond between our kids and their favorite inanimate objects, they are reminders of the type of innocent devotion that grows more elusive as we grow older. As such, the longer they have it, the more that toy or blanket or stuffed animal becomes a kind of souvenir from their childhood, and from when they were your precious little guy or gal.
We gave our son his beloved Lion Lovey at 8 months old, and by his first birthday the blanket-with-the-lion’s-head had pretty much become the fourth member of our family. We couldn’t go anywhere without him; our son wouldn’t even think of sleeping without him; and the idea of losing him was nearly as harrowing as the idea of losing Detective Munch himself. There had been some close calls before, and every time, when Lovey’s demise seemed imminent, I nearly had a heart attack. But, every time, the little blanket-with-the-lion’s-head escaped, and our afternoon/evening/entire night/several weeks of sleep was salvaged.
But while Detective Munch already seems prepared to move on, Mom and Buried has cried several times, and I am repeatedly rewatching the finale of “Breaking Bad” to figure out exactly how to make that mechanical strafing contraption Walt stashed in his trunk. The guest services alcove at the local Target, home to the callous employees who disregarded our pleas to look just a little but harder for what we thought would be a lifelong keepsake, might deserve a visit…
As satisfying as such a visit might be, it won’t bring Lovey back. So today, we say goodbye to one little boy’s first friend, a steadfast companion who somehow endured night after night of drool baths, endless afternoons being dragged underneath a stroller like Indiana Jones, and countless mealtimes in which he was treated like a smock at best and a wetnap at worst, and whose loyalty to my son never wavered.
My son will be fine. Kids are resilient; they adapt, they adjust. Already, Lovey’s neglected and overlooked sibling, Blovey (because he’s the otherlovey, and he’s blue and we’re clever!), is stepping up and putting aside his resentment at being the Jan Brady of our clan to pitch in when he’s needed most. And judging by the way Detective Munch is clutching Blovey to his face right now, I think it’s working. But we won’t forget his first, even if he does.
So farewell, Lion Lovey. Sleep tight. And if you are in the clutches of an evil, thieving Target employee, may you somehow find a way to strangle him in his sleep, or at least keep him as awake as we’re likely to be for the foreseeable future, every time my son wakes up and realizes you’re not there, and that Blovey is an imposter.
Beloved companion and somewhat-repulsive filth receptacle
5/2011 – 10/2013