We had a traumatic night last Saturday when Tip Top went missing. Yes, the stuffed giraffe that my grandmother bought my son while he was still in utero, the one who has snuggled with him every night since his infancy, disappeared.
We realized this, of course, when bedtime was upon us. While I was cuddled up with Kaden, reading him a pirate story, with Ollie the elephant sandwiched between us. "Where's Tip Top?" I asked.
We couldn't find him. Anywhere. He'd been in the car with us on the way to the Italian restaurant that night. He had waited in the car while we ate dinner. After that we couldn't solidify the details. Had we brought him inside? Chad thought so. We retraced all of our steps. We checked under the sofa. Under the coffee table. Behind the curtains. In the coat closet. Under our bed. Under all the throw pillows. We started to panic. We checked the car. Twice. Three times. We checked in the garbage can. I checked the refrigerator (I have pregnancy brain. It wouldn't have been that shocking). We prayed for help and for Kaden to be brave if we couldn't find him. And that's when we broke the news to Kaden, "We're sorry, Buddy, but we can't find him. You might have to sleep with something else . . . just for tonight, and we can look again in the morning."
If you want to experience heartbreak, you should have seen my sweet toddler contemplating the idea of sleeping without his precious spotted friend for one evening. The sock monkey wasn't going to cut it. Nor was any of the other 3,000 stuffed animals he has packed in a basket in the corner of his room. He kept saying, "I just need him!"
Chad got in the car to go check the parking lot outside the restaurant, just in case he'd accidentally fallen out without us realizing it. It was doubtful, but it gave me hope. I tucked Kaden in and lay next to him, holding his hand, trying to console him, which wasn't working. My phone buzzed, and it was a text from Chad. "We're saved!" I thought. But the message said, "He's not here."
And that's when I started to cry a little bit myself. I know, I know. I should have held it together for the sake of the tot who was already emotionally scarred, but I couldn't help it. I couldn't believe we'd lost the stuffed animal Kaden had chosen as his constant companion. The giraffe whose nose is always a bit dingy because he bites it all the time, with no regard for whether or not his mouth is full of goldfish cracker crumbs or not. The giraffe he posed with during photographs on his first birthday. I started crying, because I wanted that giraffe to take up space in our attic for 30 years until he had babies of his own someday. And most of all, I started crying, because I couldn't fix this, and it was tearing my heart out.
And then I had to tell Kaden that Daddy hadn't found Tip Top, and that we were going to have to keep looking tomorrow, while I calculated how much it would cost to overnight a replacement to our house . . . if they made the thing anymore. Kaden kept saying, "I need Tip Top! I need him!" And crying. And saying, "We need to just keep looking." And that he was going to help me find him. And then the door creaked open, and there was Chad. Holding Tip Top.
He'd called my mother-in-law on the way home who suggested taking out the couch cushions (DUH! The one place we hadn't checked!) and sure enough, there Tip Top was, smooshed from the wrestling match Kade and Chad had enjoyed there earlier.
Kaden burst out in giddy laughter as soon as he saw him, and I cried a few happy tears, and I think all of our hearts heaved a huge sigh of relief.
And then I stayed and cuddled for a few minutes with Kaden and our long-necked friend, while he told him, "You just disappeared! We couldn't find you anywhere! You were too good at hiding!" and showered him with hugs and kisses.
We talked a little bit about how we'd said a prayer and what a blessing it was that Gigi had known where to look for Tip Top, and I reminded Kaden to say a prayer to thank Heavenly Father that we'd found him.
And then we all went to sleep, because we can do that when safari animals are safely cradled in the arms of the toddler to whom they belong.