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On things lost and found

Categories: Hacking Life, Making Time, Parenting, The Juggle, Uncategorized

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When my now 6-year-old daughter was a baby, my mom gave her a fuzzy cream-colored toy Easter bunny that my daughter, for whatever reason, named Minno.

Minno quickly became a permanent fixture in our lives, traveling with us to and from that hectic early-evening childcare hand-off my husband and I had, snuggling with our daughter at bedtime, even occupying the high chair with her.  I quickly realized that all hell would probably break loose when (not if) the bunny got lost, and decided to get a couple of identical backups. Which is when I discovered that the bunny had been discontinued a couple of years earlier.

So I scoured the internet for back-up bunnies, stalked eBay for extras, and finally managed to horde, in a box at the top of my closet, four Minno clones. I pulled one out the day Minno required an extra-long stint in the washing machine; instead of happily accepting the substitute without question, my girl looked at it, sniffed at it, dubbed it New Minno and waited patiently for Old Minno to reappear. Which it did.

She could tell them apart at glance, even when they both became so worn and ratty that no one else could even tell they were bunnies. My husband marked one with an “O” on its tag and then mixed them up, just to see if she could identify it as Old Minno, and she did, every time.

But then, as predicted, the day came when Old Minno got lost. The kids were all out on the deck, I darted back inside for no more than two minutes, and when I came back out, Minno was missing. My girl, not yet 2 years old at the time, picked up New Minno and assumed Old Minno would turn up at some point.

Over the years, we went through all four of those back-up bunnies in my closet. New Minno became Old Minno and then mysteriously disappeared from the family room; the next one got left on a plane (and I still kick myself about it, because really, why didn’t I check before we disembarked?). She carted the last two replacements—a.k.a. Fluff and Fluffy Minno—with her to preschool until she herself decided they were too precious to transport.

And then, just a couple of weeks ago, my husband was digging in the garden when he found this:

(Yes, he shrieked a little bit.)

It has a little “O” on its tag. It has been missing for longer than my youngest son has been alive. It was filthy and almost unrecognizable. It looked like some dead thing. Weeds had grown around it and over it and even through it.

And it cleaned up beautifully.

(It’s the one in the middle.)

What’s my point? I’m not sure. Maybe it’s the way my daughter always believed that her original Old Minno was never really lost; maybe it’s the fact that she knew the difference between a substitute and the real thing. Maybe it’s how the things we need in life seem to return to us in one way or another, sooner or later, and we just have to be on the lookout for their altered forms.

Or maybe it’s the fact that, when something you love—your career, your dream, your brilliant idea—ends up lost and muddy and riddled with holes, when you find it again it may still clean up beautifully.



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One comment so far...

  • Cute! My daughter is like that with “Bear.” Bear was a $5 promo I bought from Borders shortly after I took custody - she’d fallen in love with it during a bookstore browse and I didn’t have the heart to take it away. (Sucker! I promise I am not that way all the time. But she needed a lovey!) Luckily a friend of mine also went to Borders around the same time and bought the same bear for each of my girls - but they all ended up with one kid. My other kid had taken a fancy to “Doll” (so I bought 2 more “Dolls” ASAP for the same reason you did).

    My eldest is 4 and she is very particular about which Bear is which. I wash them, and she goes out of her way to “mark” them all over again. She’ll suck on one part over and over until it is just the (grungy) way she likes it. Whatever! I hope she outgrows this sometime before college.

    As for old dreams - I think you are right, and also, being away from something for a while can help you come back to it with a lot more perspective. On the other hand, you also discover that some of the things you though would make your life perfect are really not “all that,” once you get distracted by intense life for a while.

    (Just so you know, I had a beloved dollhouse when I was a tot and after a couple of pieces went missing, I alternately searched and grieved for many years. When I moved to a new house at age 12, I made one last intensive search, even behind the attic walls, for those lost toys. If only they’d had eBay in those days!)

    SKL  |  May 28th, 2011 at 11:53 am

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