Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Lost Bunny

As I’m writing this my almost three year-old is tucked under his Thomas blanket blissfully napping. Oh, but he wasn't so sweet and cuddly-looking about 30 minutes ago when I tried to put him down for nap. The process involved a lot of sobbing, snot, and boneless tantruming (on his part) and a lot of cajoling and then pleading (on my part).

This is Bunny.
It’s not his fault. Usually his little two year-old body is so wiped out by 1pm that he is happy to collapse in his bed. But this week everything has been messed up. 

We lost Bunny.

It pains me to even type the words. I've had more than my fair share of parenting fails but this one ranks near the top of the list. I swear when I got home from work on Monday that Bunny was sitting on the ottoman and then somewhere between me cooking dinner and scrubbing them and books and pajamas and teeth and wondering when the f@ck dad is getting home, we just lost him. It’s actually kind of impressive, given that our house is only 1,100 square feet and he is not allowed in two of our three bedrooms.

This isn't the first time Bunny has been misplaced. In fact, it’s not unusual for me to tuck my son in at night and for him to then frantically realize Bunny isn't in bed. “WHERE. BUNNY.” he demands. And with that statement I am sprinting out the bedroom door, combing the house for the little blue jacket and fuzzy ears. I usually find Bunny in the last place my son was playing before bed…in the couch cushions where we were reading books or sitting on the potty chair where he watches my son brush his teeth. Though on occasion we have had to really hunt for him. Like that time he was wrapped up in the living room curtains. What was Bunny even doing in there? What game was he playing? Death by fabric suffocation?

Anyway, I couldn't find Bunny anywhere this time. I offered my son a teddy bear as a replacement and he gave me a huge Maude Face and I had to watch his small face crumple up. I promised to spend the whole night looking for him while he slept but I still heard muffled, soft sobs through the door after lights out.

When my husband got home from work soon after he found me looking in all the usual places and he silently started pulling the couches out from the walls. We spent an hour looking. No dice. So I spent the remainder of the week having to remind my son that Bunny was gone. Two year-olds seem to have very selective memory…like he can remember that 6 hours ago I promised him a cookie after dinner but every 20 minutes he looks surprised and exclaims, ‘Oh! I go get my bunny now.” And then he is crushed when he can’t find it. Again.

Even more mystifying was that by Thursday night he stopped asking for Bunny. He was fine to settle into bed with his bear, who has always been second fiddle. So it took only three days for him to move on? Seriously???

I mean, Bunny has been with my son since he was 5 months old. Bunny has been tucked under his baby arm through meals and diaper changes; Bunny has withstood being shoved into our toy fire truck and cooked in our toy kitchen; Bunny has been with him all night, every night, through every fever and head cold, and even through those nights last winter when my son had the croup and he couldn't breathe and we were so scared. Bunny was there.

My baby son and Bunny (awkwardly) napping in 2010
And all along I thought my son needed him because he’s a lot like me. The world scares him a bit. He finds busy, loud places overwhelming, not invigorating. He needs a little extra hug and some extra reassurance to go sit with the other kids on the blanket at Story Time at the library. That was me. He is me. I am him. That’s why I know the reason he even has a lovey is that it helps him manage the world around him…it gives him some safety when he is feeling unsure of himself. Hell, I was so hesitant as a small child that I had two loveys and I needed them both by my side well into Kindergarten. His Dad and Big Sister are fearless. But us timid folks gotta stick together, loveys and all.

So now I have to ask...where's the loyalty, kid? Days later I'm still frantically searching the house and you've just moved on. This morning I was still searching, desperately checking inane locations in the house, like the top cabinet full of cleaners (why would Bunny be there?). I took a moment and realized how crazy I was acting. My son is okay without Bunny, so why am I still looking? I was standing on a chair in the kitchen searching behind the bottle of bleach for a plush toy and I realized that I wasn't really looking for Bunny...I was looking for my baby boy. And all I saw in front of me is an almost-three-year-old who can wash his own hands and get his own cup of water and, oh dear Maude, he doesn't need Bunny anymore and soon he won't need me either.
 
This motherhood thing really gouges me sometimes. I have bent over backwards the last three years teaching him to stand alone, walk, run, feed himself, make his own choices. And now I feel sad and lonely for my baby who used to need help with things. He used to need me. Siiiiiigh. I have to go find my loveys now.

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2012

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