Monday, August 10, 2009

whatever it takes

I had searched and searched, straightening the house as I went. Pretty much nothing short of a visit from the in-laws could have gotten me to clean the place these days. That, and the tearful pleading of my son.

Hannah had not been seen for days, and although Banyan Bunny was much loved, I was getting the feeling that her substitution days were coming to a close. I'd position the 3-inch blue stuffed rabbit on Isaac's pillow at night and watch him pause, just for a second, before lifting her to his face and proclaiming his love for her. Last night, the pause lengthened until it was replaced with a long, low wail.

“Where's Hannahhhhhhh?”

The truth, something that involves much tact and trouble on average anyway, becomes a virtual land mine while parenting a young child. What is God? Why do people throw trash on the ground? What are you eating, Mama? Where do babies come from? Why do people die? Is there really a Santa Claus?

Recently, a friend was admiring one of Isaac's small wooden cars that run on his wooden car track. “Did someone you know make this?” she asked. Before I could answer, Isaac chimed in with “The elves made it, Silly!” It was charming and sweet and I loved him for saying it. I also walked away with the tiniest of lumps knotted in my stomach. Maybe it's my memory of an assignment I once gave my college freshmen – to write about a family myth, or something to that effect. One particularly apathetic boy who most classes enjoyed spending discussion time showing off his new piercings wrote a passionate piece on how angry he still was that his parents told him when he was 7 that his dead dog “went to live with another family.” It was the best thing he wrote all year. I had a mentor once who claimed that all writing was persuasive writing...

The truth was I had no clue where Hannah, Isaac's prized baby doll, had gotten to. Like the rest of the household, I was beginning to think she was quite lost. Slightly bigger than your outstretched hand, Hannah, whose name until recently when Isaac took seriously to naming things, was “Baby” and for one brief inexplicable period “Nacho,” was a $4.99 job from Target. Only the best for my kid. On the day we brought her home and for months afterwards, Isaac had ignored her heartily in favor of any truck with a scoop, but lately she'd become irreplaceable for bedtime and would often join us at the table for meals.

“I think she's missingggg!” Isaac says the tears streaming in fast little rivulets down his cheeks. “Where is sheeee?” I talk him down with much time and effort, reminding him that we don't know for sure if Hannah is actually lost and promising to scour the house for her in the morning.

“If we can't find her, wi-wi-wi-will you buy my another baby doll? Ju-ju-just like her? Little, s-s-s-so her clothes fit?”

“Of course,” I soothe. “Of course, I will.”

And then the WCS – Worst Case Scenario, proving once again that he is truly my son his brain spins out the ultimate in sorrowful outcomes: “Wha-what if...What if.. we took her somewhere and w-w-we dropped her on the streeeeeeettttt?” While you and I can think of all the terrible things that might befall a young doll on the street, for Isaac, I'm pretty certain the terror in his eyes had everything to do with the possibility of Hannah being raised by ANOTHER CHILD. The cooing and calming have to start anew.

I left Isaac's room well after 10, when he had finally fallen asleep and wrote “Hannah” at the top of my to do list for the morning.

And so, there I was cleaning my house in the hopes of locating Hannah. I had pretty much given up when my eyes landed on the radio flyer rocket ship my niece had bought Isaac the Christmas he turned one. Suddenly, I was moved to flip up the seat – and there she was, naked but for a Bandaid covering her left arm – Baby “Nacho” Hannah. With my clothes hung up, my rug vacuumed, the puzzles in the puzzle drawer, and just the two of us face to face, all I could think to say to her was, “Thanks.”

1 comment:

bobbie said...

I hope we will get a second episode - The Reunion.

(I give it a couple-three weeks before she is replaced again by a dinosaur.)

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