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Thursday, August 17, 2006  

Finder of Lost Loveys

If you've ever spent any time around a small child, you're probably familiar with the concept of a "lovey." If not, it's generally some object that the tot likes to have close at hand for security and snuggling and what not. It's usually a stuffed animal or blanket or something similarly cuddly.

M. Small's first lovey was a plastic school bus.

It makes a certain kind of twisted sense, even above and beyond his well-documented love of anything with wheels. Before he went to day care every weekday, and whenever he stays home sick, one of the highlights of his afternoon was when all the buses came to the school across the street. He would watch raptly, his nose glued to the window, until they were all gone for the day. So when he spotted a miniature one on a clearance shelf in the grocery store one day, it only made sense that it would not only get snatched into his hands, but become his favorite object.

But it turns out our boy is a little bit fickle on the lovey front. A few weeks later, Trash's mom came up for a visit. She brought a gift from Trash's grandma, a sleek green toy sports car with springloaded rear wheels that slingshot the car forward if you roll it back a few inches, as well as some pimpin' lighting and sound effects. It played two different beats, and M. Small had a different changing-table dance for each one. I'm pretty sure it was a 3 Fast 3 Furious: Tokyo Drift tie-in product of some sort, but I lost interest in checking it out. M. Small also lost interest in the car when the battery started dying and the hip-hop stopped coming out of it.

And also when his new lovey arrived, courtesy of a rare McDonald's Happy Meal. It came with a cute little sky-blue faux-Porsche, also with springloaded wheels and an eyeballs decal on the windshield. Yes, it was Sally Carrera from the movie Cars. None of us have actually seen the film yet, but it figures that Trash and I would end up having a third Bonnie Hunt fan in the house.

We knew that M. Small's new lovey -- "Boo Car!" as he affectionately referred to it -- was going to get lost sooner or later. We made several more trips to McDonald's over the next few weeks, eating Happy Meals ourselves to make sure we'd have a "Boo Car" in reserve. We ended up with a brown pickup truck, an aquamarine 50s monstrosity with tail fins, and two yellow faux-Beetles (with two different facial expressions, if you can believe that) instead. M. Small liked them all fine, but none of them -- not even the $200 Lightning McQueen replica big enough for him to drive that we saw at Costco one day -- were as cool as "Boo Car."

Which, naturally, vanished one day. We hoped that, failing its reappearance, M. Small was still young enough to forget about it and find a new lovey, just as he had before. Our hopes were in vain. "Boo Car," he would call plaintively at bedtime, and when he woke up in the mornings, and at nap time, and at his midnight wakenings. Weeks of this.

I made another trip to McDonald's that very first week, but it was already too late. "Pirates of the Caribbean II" was out by now, and I had a Big Mac for lunch instead. I ruminated bitterly on the folly of doing a tie-in between food aimed at kids under seven and a PG-13 movie. This would have bothered me even before I was a parent, because inept marketing has always gotten on my nerves, but somehow it's worse when it affects me directly. I tried to make myself feel better by winning a Volvo in their little contest, but even that pathetic sop to my damaged emotions proved a nonstarter. I didn't even win a damn pie.

There was one brief ray of hope when M. Small's birth mother came over one day with a new Cars car she'd found in a cereal box just that morning. I immediately hightailed it to our neighborhood grocery and picked up a couple of big boxes (which sit on top of our oven, barely dented, to this day), but when I got home, I learned that those fuckers in Battle Creek were also phasing out M. Small's lovey, and we ended up with a pale, Matchbox-sized imitation of the beloved Boo Car. M. Small has plenty of cars. He even has plenty of cars that are boo. Yet he knew the difference. Damn him.

Trash and I were at a loss. Then one day, she was on one of her adoption message boards and a desperate post popped up:

"Does anyone have one of those brown Happy Meal pickup trucks?"

The rest is e-mail negotiations and a glorious bubble-wrapped package that a few days later. "BOO CAR!" M. Small cried when presented with his replacement lovey. Of course, we immediately took it away from him and locked it in a safe deposit box at the bank so we'd always know where it is.

No, not really. We let him play with it, reunited at last with what he assumed was his long-lost lovey. He didn't seem to care that its windshield decal had grown back despite having gotten soaked away in one too many baths before its disappearance. And it's not like he could compare it side-by-side with the original.

Because that didn't turn up in one of his diaper bags until almost two days later.

Yes, M. Giant's Law strikes again. Leave my kid alone, you stupid law.

Of course, now he's got a more conventional lovey: a small, soft blanket knitted from pale green chenille. I know where it came from in case it disappears next, but what I really want to know is where I can find a bedspread of the same material that I can cut up into sections and stash in various secure locations around the country.

posted by M. Giant 9:48 PM 18 comments

18 Comments:

reading this, despite having a difficult pregnancy, makes me happy to be pregnant. thanks.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at August 18, 2006 at 1:50 AM  

My son Jesse, (now 24) had Mr.Bear. He got left behind at Target one day when Jesse was about 5 yrs old,they had been together since Jesse was 18 months.After a very stressful day Mr.Bear and Jesse were reunited.Be very grateful M.Small is willing to accept more than one lovey.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at August 18, 2006 at 5:02 AM  

My 3 year old has her Blankie, which she sleeps with, and drags around everywhere, including in the sandbox. Whenever we manage to wrest it from her to wash it, she cries the entire time it's in the wash. I am working on convincing her to leave it at home when she starts preschool in a few weeks, but so far it's not looking good.

In any case - we have 2 of those Boo Cars if you ever lose this one.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at August 18, 2006 at 5:50 AM  

Our son's lovey is a cloth diaper, or has he calls it, his "tow-ba" (towel). He was such a spitter as a baby, no one ever dared to hold him without one close at hand and he got very used to having one by his face while he napped.

The great thing is that we bought almost 40 of them after he was born and from now until this day, 26 months later, he does not express a preference for a specific tow-ba. Any one, or two, of the 40 (or replacements as they get gross) will do.

By Blogger Kate, at August 18, 2006 at 5:53 AM  

My mother, a very wise woman, bought 2 of the same blankies for my small daughter. I was skeptical until the first time her precious "bee-bee" went into the laundry, and then I became a believer in the instant replacement. When my daughter entered preschool and was devastated that she couldn't take bee-bee with her, I cut a small strip off the end and tucked it into her pocket. She only needed that for a few months.

By Blogger nancy, at August 18, 2006 at 8:29 AM  

I once bought a Burger King toy on eBay because my 3-yr-old daughter had lost her original. Taking care of our kids' loveys--that's true love.

By Anonymous leigh, at August 18, 2006 at 11:01 AM  

If you know where his new blankie came from, go there now and buy all of them, because when (not if) it gets lost, they'll be discontinued and you won't be able to find any. Don't wait. Do it today.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at August 18, 2006 at 12:15 PM  

My 42 year old son still has a stuffed dog he received as a gift after surgery at age 2 1/2. I made a new body for it and it lost an eye(Now covered by a pirates's patch). He took it to college and when he moved away from home after Law School. I found Snoopy clothes for it one year which the dog happily wears!!! Long live the lovey.

By Blogger Pat Ricci, at August 18, 2006 at 12:41 PM  

M. Giant's Law? We call that the "hairbrush rule" in my family. When I and my three brothers were growing up, that situation happened to each of us at least twice--always with hairbrushes.

By Blogger Dimestore Lipstick, at August 18, 2006 at 2:16 PM  

I used to work at a bookstore, and so many kids left their stuffed animals there. We always displayed them behind the counter in hopes that they would come back, but they never did. Which always struck me as both weird and sad.

If they didn't come back after six months, I gave them to my mom (whose indian name is She Who Collects Useless Crap). She now has a gallery of lost loveys on her couch.

By Anonymous GhostGirl, at August 18, 2006 at 2:44 PM  

I still have my childhood Wabbit (owned since my birth), my Big Baba (doll, approximate size of a 6-month-old child), and my blankie.

I refuse (with violence if necessary) to discard any of these objects.

Admittedly, they live in a box under the stairs in my tiny flat at the moment, but I have them.

By Anonymous Mahal, at August 18, 2006 at 6:25 PM  

The yellow faux bug is in fact a Fiat, and I know a six-year-old car buff who'd be able to tell you the precise model and year.

By Anonymous Susan G, at August 18, 2006 at 8:47 PM  

My twin sister and I were given blankets for our baptisms by our grandmother. I never showed much interest in mine, but she still has hers 17 years later. You can see through it-but not because of holes. The fabric is so thin that it's translucent. Gotta love loveys

By Anonymous Anonymous, at August 18, 2006 at 10:59 PM  

My wife bought an exact copy of our 16-month-old son's favourite blanket so we could actually wash it without inducing trauma, but we made the mistake of letting him realize they both exist. Now, he always wants the one he doesn't have. He'll drop the one in his hands and stand beside his crib or under the clotheline saying "bankit? bankit?" until we give him the other one.

It's worth it, though, because when he does get it he lays down on top of it on the floor, says "night-night" and starts fake-snoring. It's priceless.

By Anonymous Chad, at August 19, 2006 at 3:36 PM  

Hey--my toddler loves that "aquamarine mostrosity"! It's not her lovey, but it's one of the current favorite toys.

By Anonymous Joolie, at August 21, 2006 at 7:01 AM  

My 18-month-old's lovey is a fleece blanket with satin trim. Thank goodness she's not very particular, so we have 4 of them in all (so far). If we forget to bring one in the car, we quickly hear about it from the back seat. My only "rule" is that one has to stay in the crib to remain dog-hair free. Of course, that's the one she always wants. So she stands at the crib, touching it through the slats and sucking her fingers with the other hand. Like she's visiting her lover in prison.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at August 21, 2006 at 4:39 PM  

My best friend's daughter has a generic lovey, in the form of a very plain white cloth. Or, rather, one of a zillion of them that the family has been smart enough to accumulate. You can find them all over the place, and she doesn't care which one it is, which makes their lives a lot easier, because if you try to move her without giving her one, she will kick your ass. She's very vengeful for a two-year-old.

By Blogger Linda, at August 22, 2006 at 2:47 PM  

I don't have children, but it seems I have a knack for giving loveys. One friend called to request a back-up lovey, known as Teddy. It seems the only way to keep the original clean was to allow her daughter to fall asleep with Teddy, then sneak him into the washer and dryer before they went to sleep for the night, so that Teddy would be back in her daughter's arms by the morning. A year ago I gave my sister an Ookie (Google it if you don't know what it is) when her son was born. At about 12 months, he finally took a liking to it. I'm told that he will notify his parents that bedtime has arrived by going to the crib, grabbing Ookie, and then crawling into one of their laps for snuggling. A replacement was dutifully delivered two weeks ago. My sister opened the box, handed it to him, and he dropped it like a hot potato. He marched into his room and found the "real" Ookie. He's no dummy!

By Anonymous Michele, at August 30, 2006 at 7:12 PM  

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