Toy Story: love, loss, and the journey back.

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toy story

I come from a long line of blankie lovers.

My ratty pink one was the perfect accompaniment for the thumb-sucking and hair-twirling I enjoyed as a youth. Nothing better than a stinky thumb, a soggy blanket, and a gnarly rat-tail.

Ah. That tender, springtide of my life.

My youngest brother was the most passionate of blankie lovers. His was the beloved “Nigh Night.” This is the brother that I got to be little momma to, so I remember Nigh Night clear as day, no pun intended. The kid would never part with his stinky blanket. It had a unique odor. One that’s hard to forget and uncomfortable to describe. So I’ll just leave you with that.

When Nigh Night became a clear and present strangling mechanism (the thing looked more like a giant cobweb than an actual blanket) mom found a worthy successor.

Little A.J. scorned The Pretender and wouldn’t go near it until our mom attached a remnant of The Old One. It was the only way to convince little A.J. of its lineage.

Before long, Nigh Night The Second became just as dangerously tattered as it’s predecessor.

When I first had Coco, I waited eagerly for her to attach to something–a blanket, a stuffed animal–whatever. But the kid was self-sufficient. Now, this might weird you out (it certainly did me) that since infancy Coco has been attached to her belly button. Oh yes, I know you are too, but Coco is “attached” in an emotional sense to that strange little sink.

As a baby and toddler, whenever she was tired she immediately went for her belly button. We would have to put her in pajamas where the thing was accessible. If she was sick, sad, or generally miserable she fiddled with her belly button.

To this day, her belly button gives her some sense of comfort. I don’t even think she is aware of what she’s doing. And she’s not as weird about it now as she was when she was little. But if she doesn’t feel good or she’s really tired, chances are she’s gonna want to hold her belly button.

Now, Chaucer on the other hand, is a little more orthodox. Thank God. He’s got his weird points too–but I was delighted to find that my baby boy had a penchant for a little lamb gifted by my author boss. At just three months old, my son attached to “Lambie. He had to have him to fall asleep and was content in his swing or jumper if Lambie was near.

Somewhere along the way we lost Lambie. But as he was still really little, we easily replaced it with another plush toy.

And then on his first birthday, “Baby” became Chaucer’s constant companion.

My friend Amber picked out Baby and I couldn’t have done a better job myself. There was never a replacement after Baby entered our lives. We learned the hard way that no other plush toy would do. Baby was a member of our family, usually accompanied by “Pat” the pacifier.

If he hurt himself–he’d want Baby.

If he was sad–he’d want Baby.

Tired–Baby.

Scared–Baby.

We should have bought a back-up Baby. Everyone told us to, and because it was a somewhat popular toy I figured we’d always have time.

But several weeks ago, we lost him. I have no clue where he could be. I retraced every step, searched lost and found, visited every place we went on the day he left us. Nothing.

No Baby.

It was a very rough week spent searching for Chaucer’s most beloved toy. I was sure he would turn up. Each night there were tears. Sometimes my own, because I’ll confess, for as much as Chaucer loved Baby I loved him too. I wanted Baby to be that thing we keep forever–a piece of his childhood.

We searched the internet and found the only available replacements on Ebay. There were only a few, and all on the East Coast. Meaning, we’d have to wait a while to get him. But then, somehow, my MIL located one in Sacramento. We purchased the thing, and I emailed the seller begging to pick it up first thing in the morning.

Thank God she was another mom to a little kid. We talked on the phone and she was more than happy to accommodate our wish.

All four of us piled in the car to retrieve Baby. We told Chaucer that Baby had been at the doctor getting all fixed up. He could hardly contain himself on the drive there.

I actually hugged that blessed woman who sold us Baby The Second.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you!” I gushed.

Chaucer’s response was a tad different. “Baby needs to be dirty. I want him dirty.”

We all laughed.

“Not a problem, my dear boy. A day with you and he’ll be just as you like him.”

He was a little timid of his new-old friend at first. And then, after about ten minutes I watched him reconnect.

GAHHHHH!!!!!!

Absolutely exquisite. Dazzling. Love in the raw.

I know it’s just a toy, but Baby is an integral part of Chaucer’s development as a person, and none of us were ready to see him go. Watching him find his darling toy was like witnessing the reunion of long-lost friends.

He just kept hugging him. Kissing him. Talking to him.

At one point I heard him say, “I missed you, Baby. I wuv you.”

Even Coco was ecstatic for her little brother. She kept oohing and aahhing over Baby’s spruced up appearance. When we asked where we should eat lunch Coco quipped, “Chaucer get’s to pick! Today is his special day!”

Ok, so maybe that was just as dazzling to hear.

I am so thankful we were able to find that replacement and that Chaucer is with his special buddy again.

So, I wanna hear from you. Did you have a blanket or toy that you attached to as a child? Or what about your kids? Anyone out there with another belly-button worshipper?

 

33 thoughts on “Toy Story: love, loss, and the journey back.

  1. Lil

    I just found your blog via Pinterest. I still have my blankie. It’s in a box somewhere, but I have it. My grandmother made it for me. I made exact replicas for my nephew and daughter when they were babies.

    Reply
  2. lame halloween

    […] make you scour ebay for lost toys. And create elaborate histories as to why such toys were […]

    Reply
  3. Alison

    So me and my sister got TY Beanie Babies the same Christmas. They were from my mom’s best friend. I had Doby and she had Nanook. It has been 15 years and I still have my original one. My parents have bought me two replacements just in case but never needed them. My sister, however, was 5 years old and just lost hers in a move. Mom pulled out the replacement and was fixed right up. Then, when my sister was 12, our dog got ahold of it. My step-dad pulled her aside and did the whole “Maybe you’re too old speech” which my sister promptly replied with “You’re never too old for comfort” ???? but it wasn’t for another 4 years that she got another from our dad. Needless to say she keeps that little dog in sight at all times. Mine is still with me. I’m 20 years old and in the Navy and he is still here ???? longest I went was bootcamp.

    Reply
  4. Sunnie

    How funny! My daughter is 3 and is the SAME about her belly button! I have never been able to put her in the cute footie pajamas that every other kid wears because she couldn’t touch her belly button! It has to be accessible at all times. Well, I’m glad she’s not the only one!

    Reply
  5. [email protected] Mom

    I was a blankie girl. Blankies *and* stuffy friends for my boys. We had a close call for my youngest’s stuffed Luigi in the fall when Luigi’s head came partially unattached. Luckily, with a few stitches he was good as new. ????

    Reply
  6. Kristen

    I had a blanket I was extremely attached to as a child. I called my blanket Bubby. For awhile, it was a huge blanket. But when I wouldn’t let Bubby out of my sight to be washed, and when I had a massive meltdown after losing Bubby once, my mom decided to cut my blanket into four pieces.

    Reply
  7. Tori

    My daughter did the same thing with her belly button. If she was tired, she needed her paci and her “tummy”. She would kind of run her fingers over her belly button until she fell asleep. We went to pajama separates early and at nap/bedtime we would have to unbutton her onesies so she could reach her belly button. At 2 we made her give her paci to the paci fairy because she was a big girl now (she only used it for nap and bed by that time). She suddenly gave up her need to have her “tummy” too. Every now and then if she’s upset or sleepy she’ll rub her belly or ask me to. Once when she was sick she asked me if she could rub her tummy and I of course told her yes! I worried about the belly button thing for a little while, it seemed a bit strange and kind of looked strange when she was wearing a dress. Then another mom told me that her daughter had to put her hand down her diaper to go to sleep (!) and I told my husband, “the belly button thing is just fine with me.”

    Reply
    1. hillary

      Ok, yah…when given the choice of the belly button or the hands down the diaper? Always pick the belly button!

      Reply
  8. Becca B

    I have a slight belly button fascination. Mine started when I was pregnant with my twins. Pre-twin pregnancy my belly button was so deep you could lose an appendage in there, but as my pregnancy carried on my belly button became shallower until it was flush with my stomach. After delivery it never went back. I was obsessed with tracking its progress. LOL

    Reply
  9. Chris Carter

    Neither of my kids had any specific attachments… but my daughter (still) twisted and pulled her hair through out all her years of being sick. She had huge bald spots everywhere…it was horrible and horrific. She still has “bangs” made by fraying her ends… it’s her way of coping with stress. No belly button, I only wish…

    Reply
  10. amber

    I was very attached to my imaginary friend “Jessica.” One time mom left her at the store (gasp!) and refused to go back into town to pick her up (double gasp!). Traumatic.

    Reply
  11. Amanda Nelson

    My little one has a few stuffed animals that she really likes, but nothing she couldn’t live without. My younger cousin though, she had a blanket she named “Man.” And when he was in the washer, she would sit in front and cry saying, “I need my Man!” Haha. It was so funny. Eventually, he became a knot.

    Reply
  12. candotche

    I still might be attached to “Blue Bear” and “Rafiki”…maybe….ok fine. I’m 27 years old and I still sleep with my bears. I totally get Chaucer’s addiction. I’d cry for nights too if I didn’t get to sleep with my comfort, plush, tattered toy. I”M SOOOOO happy you found one for him. His life is now complete!

    Reply
  13. candotche

    ps…kristen still sleeps with her blanket from childhood too…but don’t tell her I told you…on your public blog. haha.

    Reply
  14. Kristin

    My 2.5 year old son attached to a bib. He has to have this particular bib or the world will end. Luckily we searched eBay and found three others just like it and used them interchangeably until they were all equally loved. We’ve lost one over the last two years but still check eBay every few weeks so we can keep a stock. The Parents Choice camo bib that says Daddy is my Hero has become our loving “B”.

    Reply
    1. hillary

      How cute! You’re a smart lady. Wish I would have stocked up beforehand.

      Reply
  15. Miriam Gomberg

    Both my kids had and loved their blankies for years. Sam’s became a safety hazard when he was about 3 so we had to start cutting it apart until it was gone. Avery still has hers (22 now) and keeps it under her pillow.

    Reply
  16. Beth Armstrong Leahy

    I hope you are getting another one of those for back-up for the next time it gets lost ’cause you KNOW it will happen!

    My son had crib sized blanket/quilt he loved for many years. It had primary colors and, I think, clowns on it. He insisted on taking it on overnights with him and as you probably have figured out, if he was old enough to be spending nights with friends at their houses, he probably looked a bit silly with a ratty, worn, baby blanket. (It didn’t seem to bother him though.). But to save him from possible scorn I folded it in half and sewed up the sides which made it into a pillowcase. Luckily, the back of it was a solid yellow to that’s the side that showed. Pop in his pillow and off he’d go, no one the wiser. He’s 27 now and married and he doesn’t know it but I still have that blanket. How could I throw it away?

    Reply
  17. Alex S

    I’m 21 years old and I still have my “blankie”. Mind you she is actually a doll, a fisher price Puff-a-lump doll to be exact. She is was the one that wore pink overalls, so the very creative child version of myself called her “Pink Baby”. She isn’t much of a Puff-a-lump now more like a dirty rag with a rubber face. I still love her to pieces though(literally she’s falling apart). I’m not to sure on how I became the owner of pink baby only that the one I have now is Pink baby II. I first one I lost in crunch when I was about 3. We searched the church for hours, I’m pretty sure the priest even helped. Pink Baby II was bought the next morning by my grandma cause she couldn’t stand watching me cry over my beloved doll. Other then that one time Pink Baby never left my arms EVER. I brought her everywhere and did everything with her. Now a days she just sits beside my head at night or in the drawer of my night stand. I can’t seem to part with her. Maybe she just reminds me of being a kid. What is even better about this story is that my little sister got a hold of one of my other Puff-a-lumps dolls(I had 4) and gave her heart to the one wearing the green jumpsuit, and if you were wondering her name was “Green Baby”. ????

    Reply
  18. Top Ten Disneyland Moments

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  19. Courtney

    Oh, what a sweet story. You told it so beautifully. My son loves Moosey, which is a toy given out by a hospital in Maine. We actually have 3 for the just in case, but he knows the real one. I am glad you had a happy ending

    Reply
  20. Rhoda Jane

    My second daughter and my baby son (now 2 years, but that’s still a baby, right? ???? ) have matching Ty Pluffie Giraffes. Both are called Gaffie, but my son knows the difference even from a distance. When I couldn’t find his Gaffie one day I tried substituting my daughter’s Gaffie (He was barely 18 months at the time and I figured he wouldn’t know the difference. Ha!). All my son needed was a glimpse and he screamed “No! Gashie!” (what he calls his Gaffie). I was totally at a loss. I so should have bought him two and then routinely substituted them out so they would get worn at the same rate. We found my son’s Gaffie that time and still have him, however, I fear the day my son’s Gaffie really does disappear.

    Reply
    1. hillary

      Yah, once its all worn they really know the difference. I just convinced him that Baby went to the doctor and needed a checkup. He was missing a lot of stuffing, too. This new one already has a hole in it and he’s pulling out the stuffing piece by piece!

      Reply
  21. Mel

    I LOVE this story. That picture made me tear up. We have a similar one here:

    Reply
    1. hillary

      That story was so sweet! I tried to comment on your blog but I don’t know if it let me… So darling though.

      Reply
  22. Kathy at kissing the frog

    Awww, I love that picture! So sweet! Mine have all been blankie kids, except the last one. He likes stuffed animals, but hasn’t become attached to any one yet. We lost every single one of my five year old’s blankies. I finally bought him a bigger version, and that seems to prevent it from getting lost. I still have the small pillow that my mom made for me when I was little. It’s so comfy and lumpy and the perfect cuddling size. ????

    Reply
  23. Student Mom (Jenn)

    Oh too funny. I was also very independent and don’t recall a toy. However; The Bunny has Pig (or Piggy, according to Bunny) and he has been with her since day dot, and she still sleeps with him at almost 5 years-old. I love Pig. But… since day dot she has played with her ear to go to sleep, or if she’s sick, or sad, etc… Everyone insisted she had ear infections because she would constantly play with her ear. Over and Over I had to assure them that her ear was her ‘blankie’. She still plays with her ear to go to sleep – with Piggy in the other hand.

    Reply
  24. Vanessa Rae

    I had a blanket when I was little. It had images of cabbage patch dolls for a border. Fortunately, we had two for when “birp” needed a bath. When I was scared, I would hold birp up to my face, to kind of hide behind. To this day, if I am watching a scary film, I will need something- sweater, blanket, boyfriends arm- to hold up to my face. ???? ????

    Reply
    1. hillary

      Laughing at the name! So how long exactly did you keep it?

      Reply
      1. Vanessa Rae

        Mmmm far longer than I should have. 11? My mom still has either birp 1 or 2 tucked away in a keepsake box somewhere.

        Reply

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