Little Puppy has been lonely lately. So has his friend, Hoot, and his cousins, Giraffy and Brownie.
When you're a parent of three young children, the fact each child has his or her essential nighttime toys can be both endearing and infuriating. A forgotten or lost toy can be the difference between harmony and hell when you're ready to call it a day. Like the time we were cruising and couldn't find Squirrelly. Squirrelly wasn't even a first string player; he was back up. Squirrelly was one of those substitute toys you brought on trips because, should something untoward happen to Squirrelly, life would go on. He eventually was found under a mattress, but bedtime suffered a delay and his temporary misplacement caused some small measure of emotional duress for the German.
In Our Daughter's time, there were dolls Shu-Shu and Miranda, in addition to dogs Dottie and Bernie. It became second nature to grab one or all them on the way out the door the way you grab your wallet and keys. She has long since outgrown them.
When she was just four or five years old, Our Daughter heard about college. The concept of leaving home to live and study in a strange city panicked her to tears. I assured her she wouldn't be going anywhere for a very long time. That very long time has now come and gone like the flickering of a candle.
The same will hold true for the twins. Before we know it, thirteen will have turned to eighteen and it'll be their time to tour college campuses and complete scholarship applications. Just around the corner are the dissolution of bedtime rituals and the packing away of the silly toys of early childhood. Our recent housecleaning over the holidays offered proof these days are coming. The ease with which they let go of things that were, only last year, must-keep essentials was equal parts freeing and frightening.
So, what will become of Little Puppy?
For now, he sits atop the dresser overlooking the bed he once occupied. He might end up in a bin under the bed, or a drawer in the closet. Rest assured, there will be an intervention before his well-being is ever in jeopardy. Maybe Little Puppy will end up on the shelf in my office. Whenever I look up to give my bleary eyes a break from staring at the computer screen, I'll see Little Puppy and be reminded of the words from the Paul McCartney song "Little Willow."
"Bend little willow,
Wind's gonna blow you
Hard and cold tonight.
Life as it happens,
Nobody warns you.
Willow, hold on tight."
It's a song I sang hundreds of times to the children when they were babies and toddlers. I wonder, sometimes, if I was singing it to them or to myself.
© 2015 Mark Feggeler