Parent Moments: Froggy Baby Sister
Who was it who told me and my wife that if our child acquires an attachment object, we should immediately run out and buy two, even three versions of the same?
Wise soul that passing acquaintance.
The logic, said the wise soul, is that if you have a matched set, the child is never without her best friend and source of comfort. This could be especially important for an only child, which is the case for our family.
You see, while the best friend is being clutched tightly during nap, or dragged through the mud on the playground, or fêted at some exclusive celebrity tea party, its plush doppelgänger can secretly be in the washing machine freshening up for the next shift.
Also, keeping two or more Mimzies in the rotation keeps you, the parent, sane. It's an insurance policy. Did you leave attachment object #1 at school? No tragedy. Attachment object #2 magically appears when you get home. Dog thinks Teddy is a chew toy? Spilled carbolic acid on Lambikin? No problem! You've always got your back-up, and now you have peace of mind. No longer are you paralyzed with fear. Breathe.
Buy the twin at approximately the same time, so they age and wear out in tandem, deteriorating at exactly the same rate, we were told.
Keep the illusion alive, and the tot never knows the wiser. But it all hinges on keeping the illusion alive, cautioned the wise soul.
And so it was that when our daughter latched on to Froggy somewhere around 4 months -- at first only just amiably posing in a picture with the fluffy, bright friend, then developing a closer bond over the coming weeks -- we rushed to the toy store to make it a matched set.
The dual Froggy attachment object solution really worked for us. When we started part-time daycare, it was huge. One frog would go off to school with her all day, while the other one would have a chance to rest and recuperate, get clean, and get ready for her when she got home.
We adopted this parenting tip as our own. We preached. We proselytized. We would pass the wisdom on to any parent we chanced to meet in the park, at the YMCA, even strangers in the market got the pitch. "Your child loves that stuffed animal? Oh, boy. You better hurry up and buy a dozen to match. You'll be sorry if you don't!"
But the fear that most parents have that their child's attachment object might get lost, was replaced in us by the fear that one day, our daughter would discover our Froggy duplicity.
Our creeping anxiety grew into mortal dread. In the Germanic tradition, the meeting of the döppelganger portends ill events. We envisioned a "worlds collide" moment worthy of a "Seinfeld" episode, and as earth-shattering as having Superman and Clark Kent in the same room.
But the day came anyway, as I guess we knew it always would.
It was spring. I picked up our daughter from preschool one afternoon. We gathered her lunchbox and her artwork from the day. And we didn't forget Froggy, who had been hanging out in her cubby while the class had been engaged in an activity.
We got home. The door was wide open. My wife had the day off and was "getting stuff done."
With Froggy in tow, our daughter ran on ahead and into the house... and there -- on top of a pile of clean laundry that hadn't been put away yet -- was our lie, our cover-up, our Watergate exposed.
As I walked in, my wife had just come from the kitchen. We both stood silent, aghast. Waiting for what, I'm not sure. Waiting for worlds to collide, I guess.
But instead, my daughter grabbed the freshly laundered froggy off the top of the pile, and clutching them both tightly, she said matter-of-factly: "Mommy, Daddy ... It's Froggy Baby Sister!"
It had never dawned on us that this daughter of ours -- an only child -- would only be too happy for her Froggy to get a sibling, a new best friend ... and grow our small family by one.