Savvy has spent several nights this week going to bed and NOT clamoring for her stuffed baby dolphin toy “Hope.” It’s another possible milestone at age 3 1/2, and it’s good that she is growing up and doesn’t need them, but it’s disturbing how much she needs something one day and then the next day she just abandons it and never looks back.
Trust me, I’m grateful as I think about my wife and I not having to look around for that stupid thing in the dark when our daughter wakes up in the middle of the night, or both of us trying desperately to locate it so she will calm down and just go to bed at a reasonable time. But to just suddenly one day not need it, not mention it, and just move on… I am equally impressed and unnerved by that.
Nothing moves in a straight line with small children, so we will probably be looking for Hope tonight so Savvy will go to bed, but in a month or two we’ll be talking about how it’s been so long since she needed Hope to go to sleep.
A few months ago, she would make us tear the house apart to find it before she would go to bed.
Last night, she couldn’t have cared less where Hope was, and it is possible that she won’t ever ask about Hope at bedtime again.
There’s just something not right about that.
It’s not the underlying fear that she will disregard her parents one day, the same way that she disregarded the Shamu breakfast bowl or the Monkey Pillow Pet – aptly named “Monkey” by her – that she HAD to seep on every night for over a year. We ended up with three Shamu bowls in case one was dirty, we got 2 large Monkey Pillow Pets and a small one, so she could have one upstairs for bedtime and naps, one downstairs for other naps, and one in the car. They were a fave for well over a year.
I have a picture of her in the shopping cart at WalMart hugging the Monkey Pillow Pet, the first time they ever met. It was love at first sight. Best 20 bucks we ever spent. (Well, it $20 for the first one…)
We accumulated three Hope’s, too, because she took it everywhere in the house but would leave it everywhere in the house, too – making for a bedtime disaster. When I’m sleepy and ready to crash, that is no time to start a hunt for a stuffed dolphin that is just as likely to be under a couch as it is to be in a toy box or in the pantry. We got a backup so we could get her to go to bed with the substitute, and the 3rd one was in case one wore out (which one was doing).
Yes, it sounds extreme; I need my sleep!
She even got to the point where she could tell we’d given her a backup. She named #2 “Blackie” because his plastic eyes weren’t worn out like Hope’s. Constantly being carried around the house will do that to a toy. The wear begins to show, and stuffed animals aren’t really made for too many washings. #3 never go a name. He mostly stayed in her pajama drawer for emergencies, like when we’d lost the first two – which we did.
Before, Blackie could stand in for Hope; then, when she figured things out, Blackie could occasionally fill in at bedtime while we promised to go find Hope. Savvy might actually wait up, awake in the blue glow of the night light in her room, waiting for the final report – but usually Hope was just someplace where turning on the living room lights would find her, and all was well. On a rare occasion, Savvy would agree that we would find hope in the morning, and she would go ahead and fall asleep hugging Blackie.
Then, as I say, one day no dolphins were necessary. It happened twice in a week. Maybe more than that. I almost don’t want to count them and jinx myself.
We had a garage sale last weekend. We went through a pile of Savvy’s stuffed animals and she opted to give many of them away. It didn’t bother me; I knew which ones were her favorites and she kept all of those. The others were, mainly, ones that I had bought for her first Christmas: a variety of jungle animals, of high quality. But even then I knew that a kid can’t have 10 favorites. She liked them, and she learned each of their names – that is, what kind of animal it was – but she never played with the gator or the rhino, or some of the others. It was a swing and a miss. I got too many.
But we also learned that first Christmas that Savvy might like a toy at the toy store, leading us to believe it would be a good Christmas present, and then a few weeks later at the house on Christmas morning, it was a dud. It was an expensive lesson to learn, but I only needed to learn it once. Crag’s list and garage sales then became my forum of choice for presents for my kid, and it worked well for me. But I didn’t know that on her first Christmas, and I’m not sure it would have mattered. I wanted a big pile of stuffed animals for my little girl, all sorts of jungle animals, and she got them.
I really liked them; she only liked a few. At the time, I was disappointed, but I became okay with it as I realized that she wasn’t going to fall in love with every single thing I ever bought her, and she certainly wasn’t going to fall in love with every one of those stuffed jungle animals. Kids just don’t do that very often – Barbies excepted.
She fell in love with a few of the jungle animals, though, and that was good enough for me. I wanted her to have a big pile of stuffed animals on her bed, and she did. I wanted her to enjoy playing with them, and she did. I thought she’d eventually settle on one that was her absolute favorite stuffed animal ever, and she did. First, it was a monkey Pillow Pet that her mom bought here, and then later it was a stuffed toy dolphin named Hope – also that her mom bought her.
The jungle animals I got just never really did it for her the way the monkey and the dolphin did.
And when it was garage sale time, I knew they would go, a lot of them. And what didn’t sell would go to Salvation Army as a donation.
And one day it might be Hope and Blackie in that pile.
I’ll probably pull Hope aside and stick her in a shoebox or something, and place her in the top of my closet. There are a few other memorable things packed away up there, like a pair of monkey slippers that my kid wore every day, 24/7, for about two years… Her first USF onesie, we framed and hung on her bedroom wall. I’m sure she will wake up one day and ask for that to go somewhere else. It’ll go into the closet, too, next to her first pair of baby booties.
Some new thing will take Hope’s place, whatever it is; I don’t know yet. It may not be an obvious transition, as it was when Hope gave Monkey the boot.
I’m not sure it matters.
Because even though Monkey got replaced, she was completely devoted to Monkey for a long time – two years; literally about 2/3 of her life. That’s pretty good, considering the Christmas presents from year one were enjoyed for less than a week.
Hope’s realm has lasted quite a whole, too. Way more than a year. The kid is steadfast and faithful to her favorite toy. When she makes a decision, she sticks by it. I like that, even if it wasn’t my toys she liked best.
I like to think that people’s personalities and lifetime qualities begin when they’re young. Impatience, unfortunately, is one; but so is a good sense of humor. She has both of those things in abundance.
This thing with the toys makes me think she’ll be a loyal friend, and that’s a good quality. Maybe even a rare quality.
And it makes me think she will be a good and loving and devoted child to her parents all of her days, which is a good thing to hope for in a child.
After all, she didn’t let Monkey go to the garage sale. He’s still up there in her room quietly carrying out his duties. I don’t see him going anywhere anytime soon.