My son lost his lovey.
His name was Smelly. He was a yellow, or formerly yellow, raggedy duck blanket. His bill was smashed from years of loving. His tags were frayed from constant rubbing. And as his name suggests, he smelled.
Smelly was a member of our family. He was “real.” He was my son’s best friend and they went everywhere together.
Smelly traveled with us and helped my son feel safe in strange beds.
Smelly went on play dates with us and helped my son feel comfortable with new kids.
Smelly was there when my son was sick. Tired. Sad. Loney. Smelly helped my son get through all the bumps and bruises of childhood. As long as Smelly was there, everything was okay.
On the first day of Kindergarten a few weeks ago, Smelly helped my son bravely walk through the door into his new life. Little did we know, that new life would not include Smelly.
A few days later, Smelly was gone.
We’d gone out to eat at a local Italian place. When we sat down, I noticed my son was carrying his lovey. I meant to say, “Give me Smelly so I can put him in my purse,” but I got distracted and forgot.
Like most, er all, dining experiences with young kids, the meal was stressful. And rushed. I don’t know what we were thinking going out to eat. We should have just flushed $50 down the toilet and punched ourselves in the gut to get that “I just ate out with a little kid” feeling. When my son started freaking out about the fact that he couldn’t have dessert, we had to hightail it out of there.
It wasn’t until I was tucking him into bed that night, that we both realized what had happened. We locked eyes and knew. Smelly was gone.
I called the restaurant in a panic. The hostess didn’t seem to understand the urgency of the situation. She offered to look for the lovey after closing. I tried to explain the significance of Smelly. How’d he’d been with my son his whole life. How I'd held him as I nursed my son in the days after we came home from the hospital. How my son couldn’t sleep without him. How he’d helped us get through visits to the ER and the first day of preschool. She was unmoved. Clearly she wasn’t a mom.
I rushed back to the restaurant to look myself. I searched everywhere. I had the manager look in the laundry in case Smelly had been mixed up with the dirty napkins. But there was no trace of Smelly.
My son had to bravely go to bed alone that night. And he did. He had to bravely go to school without Smelly the next morning. And he did. He had to be strong when I cleaned his scraped knee without Smelly. And he was.
The truth is, my son is fine without Smelly. He’s asked for him, but he hasn’t freaked out the way I feared he would.
No, the truth is, I’m the one who misses Smelly the most. I miss seeing my son curl up with him. I miss hearing my son kiss him with the little staccato pecks he'd land on the duck's beak. I miss handing him Smelly and knowing that he was instantly comforted. That as long as he had Smelly, the world was safe. I miss being able to offer that safety to my son. And I miss the little, raggedy, yellow symbol of my boy's baby days. Days that, just like Smelly, are gone.