I was a late bloomer in many ways every way. Twenty-five years went by before I could admit to myself that stuffed animals (probably) don’t have souls. It was another five years before I finally laid to rest my beloved Grifford, a one-eyed black labrador whose limbs and tail were rigged to his torso with silver duct tape, stuffing exploding from his sockets.
All of this to say I have enormous compassion for Patrick, who is suddenly pining the loss of a Pillow Pet he hardly knew. Specifically, the Lost Pillow Pet of Christmast 2010, who was left unattended at the airport, was likely picked up by airport security, and whose disappearance at the time seemed barely a blip on Patrick's radar. Larry and I were more distraught about it because we almost missed our flight searching for it, and DAMN IT, SANTA HAD JUST BOUGHT THE DAMN THING.
Two years later, grief has apparently caught up with our boy.
Last night, I was sitting in the bean bag chair listening to Gus chat himself to sleep, when I heard weepy sniffles from the top bunk.
Patrick, what's wrong?
I ... miss my pillow pet! <*choking sobs*> I didn't get a chance to say goodBYYYYYE.
KILL ME NOW.
I climbed up the bunk ladder to reassure him that the pillow pet is happy and well.
HE WAS STOLEN! YOU DON'T KNOW!
Desperate, I told him about airport security protocol and made up a place called (uncreatively) Pillow Pet Camp. There's no swimming there, I said, but they can do all of the other activities ... canoeing ... arts and crafts ... stand up comedy ...
ARE YOU SURE?
DO YOU PROMISE THERE IS SUCH A THING AS PILLOW PET CAMP?
DUDE. There are pillow pet camps all over the country. The waiting lists are insane.
He drifted off to sleep until about three in the morning, when he pattered into our room in his feet pajamas, said, "I'm sad", climbed into bed between us with Gus's pillow pet, and fell asleep.
My heart can't take it. This kid is so sweet.
So, other than the obvious question--why now?--I'm curious to know what you think I should do:
a) Nothing, this too will pass
b) Get the poor kid a new pillow pet
c) Get the kid an exact replica of the original pillow pet and tell him IT CAME HOME! IT CAME HOME!
Every Valentine's Day I make the boys a special breakfast and surprise them with a stuffed animal and a card. So I was thinking this year I could get Patrick a new pillow pet. But if it's a different pillow pet that's not HIS pillow pet, do you think that would be the most depressing Valentine ever? And if I get the same pillow pet and pretend it came back (it came back!), will I be inflicting some weird and permanent psychological damage, whereby he'll be forever incapable of processing or accepting loss, so that when he's 95 and his wife dies, he'll spend the next six months waiting for her to show up for waffles on Valentine's day?
I'll take whatever you've got.