Today, my daughter took her Moose to school. She was beyond excited, and had looked forward to it for days. It’s part of the Red Ribbon week, designed to teach kids to say no to drugs (and maybe ‘yes to success?’ or at least, ‘yes to hanging with harmless stuffed animals?’). Whatever. She’s clueless that there’s a message push, which is fine. Her father and I have talked to her (and her brother) about the dangers of drugs for, well, years.
To her, the annual “bring a stuffed animal to school” day is just fun. For this mom, it was also kind of sad.
While my daughter has about a gazillion stuffed animals and rotates her favorites from week to week, my son has always had just a few, and only one beloved stuffy, Bobby Bunny. His grandparents gifted him with the Build-A-Bear rabbit when he turned two. It was instant love.
Bobby helped my son transition from Baltimore to Birmingham a few months later. And his constant long-eared companion helped him sleep; he would hold the animal close and rub his long, pink ears between his thumb and fingers, a soothing technique that he used for years.
This morning, his sister asked him if he were taking Bobby to school. I knew what the answer would be.
I get it. Older kids don’t want to be seen with a stuffy. Then my son added, “I don’t even hug him at night anymore. I hug my pillow.”
I asked him, “Do you remember that time we went to Knoxville for the night, and forgot him? You cried yourself to sleep.”
My son seemed wistful as he said, “I remember. But I didn’t cry myself to sleep. You ended up telling me all these stories about Bobby Bunny—all this fun stuff he was doing in Birmingham. I stopped crying to listen to what he was up to while I was away.”
“You remember that?”
“Of course, Mom.” (Eye-roll)
He was four then; he turns 12 in two weeks. There’s a well-worn, brown stuffed animal upstairs buried under his blankets, a beloved old rabbit who I think deserves to hear some stories about the adventures my son is having today while away at school.