Earlier today, and about fifteen times this week I've heard this phrase: "Mom, when I am five I will leave Dah in my bed."
You can imagine how much harder it was for me to make my case, when a well meaning store clerk this afternoon admired Dah, and told our sweet boy that she herself had one similar at home that she just loved and loved and couldn't part with... and thought it was grand that he was so obviously consumed by his own.
"You are really not helping my cause." I said with the laugh that all store clerks know means momma-knows-you-think-you-are-helping-but-you-are-not. She smiled back, with that relish-every-moment-it-goes-so-fast smile. We parted without altercation.
And so it goes that we breezed on to the playground, so that this pregnant momma could take a load off her feet whilst the boy and his Bugglish sister could play for a few minutes. I vividly remember them running on ahead of me, his fiercely colored hair gleaming while his Dah waved behind him like a cape.
Three hours later as we were readying for bed, I told him to grab his Dah so we could settle in with a book. "Where is it?" he asked. "I don't know honey, have a look around." It dawned that perhaps the Dah was never retrieved from the car or stroller after our outing. As I searched both, the dreaded fear was realized. In our haste to leave the playground for an imminent potty stop, I saw shoes retrieved, but no Dah. There was little doubt in my mind that the beloved rag of a security blanket had in fact been left behind.
It's one of those teachable moments, right? As a mom, you are torn between the desire to show grace by starting a frantic call-a-thon to find if someone in the vicinity can scour the play area, but also the need to convey the importance and responsibility of caring for one's things, or at least one's most valued possession. But before I uttered a word, and as he sobbed, "I'm sorry I forgot it, Mommy!" my instincts lept into high gear.
An Amber Alert was issued. He wanted me to call the police. And I sincerely thought about calling the police.
I texted friends, grandparents, the law-school-abiding-husband-100-miles-away, all to pray. Anyone who had a relationship with Dah would understand the gravity of our situation. And of course, being the knight-in-his-shining-library that he is, the husband who seemed out of reach for help sounded the alarm the loudest. He knows how much I hate to 'ask' and chose to make our neighborhood Search & Rescue squads know of our dire situation.
Enter Bond and Bond girl. Or at least in this story, they play the role of Bond and Bond girl, because he drove like Bond to the scene of the disaster, with his beautiful wife, at a moments notice.
They had a description of Dah. And while we waited, the boy worried. "Mom, what if other children try to take him?" I couldn't bear to tell him that I didn't think Dah looked the same to other children... So I just conveyed how Bond and Bond girl always come out victorious. Although my hopes sincerely were waning.
Bond girl called me breathless as she ran to search... I told her she might have to use force in the retrieval if necessary. After all, the boy thought Dah was attractive enough to steal. And as he fell asleep peacefully with his back being rubbed by momma, the most blissful picture came across my phone. That tattered and worn blanket with his name and birthdate embroidered popped up with a quip from Bond girl, "Look familiar?"
Never have I been so happy to see that silly piece of fabric. And after today's epic adventure, I honestly think a second date should be inscribed below the first... for Dah's first near-tragedy. And while it tumbles in the dryer awaiting the reunion with the boy (lets be honest, a good sani-cycle in the washer was desperately needed), I am reminded that some of the best things in life are the little things. And the little things can remind us of incredibly large blessings. So if it takes until he is five for him to be 'ready' to give Dah a rest, I can handle it.
It also reminds me that I have a Dah of my own that I carried on for a bit longer than four and a half years. It's in a box in our crawl space, and I've promised the boy on more than one occasion that I would share it with him so he could see the tattered remnants of my beloved security blanket. If you've never had such an attachment, then maybe this excerpt from the Velveteen Rabbit will explain a little of the childhood devotion to such an item:
The Skin Horse had lived longer in the nursery than any of the others. He was so old that his brown coat was bald in patches and showed the seams underneath, and most of the hairs in his tail had been pulled out to string bead necklaces. He was wise, for he had seen a long succession of mechanical toys arrive to boast and swagger, and by-and-by break their mainsprings and pass away, and he knew that they were only toys, and would never turn into anything else. For nursery magic is very strange and wonderful, and only those playthings that are old and wise and experienced like the Skin Horse understand all about it.
"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"
"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."
"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.
"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."
"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"
"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."
Yes, even a Dah might be real.
PS - I highly recommend finding Bond and Bond girl in your respective neighborhoods. Ours are in the witness protection program. High stakes operations like this can't be meddled with - so don't try to get their names out of me.