My daughter lost her blanket and we tried to find it
My sons and I stopped by Unclaimed Baggage in 2021 when we were on a roadtrip. So. Much. Stuff. You can spend hours there and never see it all.
In other news, I won an iPad Air from my public radio station before Christmas. But I don't need it. I couldn't figure out who it should be gifted to, but I knew it wasn't supposed to be mine. Then yesterday, I read a Tweet from someone I follow who had lost her iPad just as she started a new business venture that required an iPad. She left it in a van while in DC this week and admits that it was a foolish idea to leave it there. When I read her post on Twitter, she was seeking to get some funds via Venmo to replace it, but I immediately knew that this stranger was the owner of the iPad I had won. And so I'm off to the UPS store to ship this iPad cross country (she lives in CA) to someone who very much needs it. I hope it isn't delayed by weather or airline groundings. It is a satisfying feeling when the pieces click into place.
My eight year old has Beau Beau. Beau Beau is a dog that everyone mistakes for a rabbit; he's got floppy ears, a pudgy belly, and big feet. Beau Beau was also my wife's, so he just turned 40. I've lost track of the number of "surgeries" Beau Beau has had over the years: Eme plucked so much of his fur out while soothing herself at night that we ended up finding a close substitute from a fabric store and hot gluing patches of it back in. We've sewn up holes, re-glued eyes, added more stuffing, the works. Beau beau cuts a very tragic figure.
One of our five scariest moments of parenting was when Eme was about 3. My wife was taking her to their weekly mama/daughter dance class in Brooklyn, which meant a subway ride. They got to the dance center and realized...Beau Beau was not in the stroller. They spent 30 minutes looking around Greenpoint looking for him, but he was nowhere. Eme was inconsolable. My wife dumped her back in the stroller and they came home.
As they climbed the steps out of the subway back in Manhattan, they found Beau Beau sitting up against the fence right at the top of the subway entrance. I don't know what heavenly creature put him there, but they legit saved our lives, or at least YEARS of therapy expenses. (Also yes, New Yorkers are, on the whole, very kind people when it comes down to it).
I lost my baby blanket (also Blankie) at age 29, after a community band dress rehearsal I attended on the way back from the airport, because I'd used it to dampen the bass drum. When I called the rehearsal studios the next morning, it was completely gone. I was as distressed about this as I had been over losing my sweetheart, four-year-old cat to illness a couple months prior, which is to say, nearly hysterical.
I spent a couple months trying to "grow up" and live without one, then caved and tried to find a new, different one at Target. I tried two or three different blankets over the next year, none of which met my needs (texture/comfort, a perfect airplane blanket, plus the right weight/warmth to keep my neck warm at night - which I now know is from Hashimoto's).
Finally, in one of many dark moments after my divorce began, over a year and a half after losing my blanket, I decided to try to see if I could find an exact replica. To my shock, a thorough internet search (and the discovery that it was a "waffle weave") led me to someone selling my exact model and color baby blanket on Ebay. I paid around $35 for it, and it is absolutely one of the best purchases I've ever made.
I was and am shocked at how much it helped/helps me emotionally and physically. I never sleep without it, I never travel without it, and in fact, I discovered that rubbing the corners STILL drastically reduces my anxiety as an adult. It may not have the years of wear, tear, and repair, but it's as damned close as I can get.
All of which is to say, I understand your daughter's distress (and yours) deeply. And it reminds me of a scene in an old Debbie Reynolds B movie called My Six Loves, in which she spends an evening rooting through a garbage dump site in an effort to find a child's blankie. Sending love to both of you.
The pain of losing your childhood blankie is uniquely unbearable. I lost my yellow and white crocheted chevron blankie made by my grandmother when I was in my early twenties and packed it in a suitcase to fly to NJ. The luggage was never recovered. To call it a security blanket is an understatement. 30 years later it still pains me. My daughter is leaving next week to study abroad and she’s starting to pack. My number one piece of advice to her and anyone who is ever flying is if you are packing something you would be heartbroken to lose, don’t put it in your checked luggage!! I love that your daughter passed on the new-old blankie, that is such a nice gesture.
My 19-year old still sleeps with the blue stuffed dog he received from my former brother-in-law when he was born. He would, of course, survive if Bubba (so named because he couldn't pronounce "Blue Dog" as a toddler and all my attempts to imprint Buddha as a name on the dog came to nothing) were lost, but he would never not be sad about it.
Similarly, I had a small teddy bear that had been given to me at birth that I kept with me always as a little kid. At some point when visiting my grandmother's house in Memphis it disappeared and could not be located. It was missing for years, until my grandmother moved a set of shelves in her hallway and discovered it secreted behind the shelf where my brother had undoubtedly hidden it to torture me. (He was that kind of kid. And adult.) I was probably in middle school, or maybe high school when Teddy was finally rediscovered and I have never, ever let him go since. He lives tucked in my dresser right now.
All four people in my immediate family still have their favorite lovies. I have gone to great lengths to make sure Bobby, Mr. Duck (it's a chicken), Baby, and Pam remain with us at all times. My husband and I have our childhood keepsakes sitting on our dressers. That's probably weird but I still find comfort in it. Tell E that I'm sorry for her loss.
The stepdaughter I helped raise had Dot. Joint custody meant that if Dot was left at one house, the receiving parent had to go to the other parent’s house to retrieve it. I’m sorry to say I, but never my husband, may he rest in peace, was sometimes irritated with a six year old girl who had left her precious Dot behind, or with the mother who could never be counted on for, well, much of anything. (Once my stepdaughter called me frantic on a weekday evening when she was with her mother. She had taken a nap and woke up to find her mother simply wasn’t home. By the time I got there, in a state of panic, her mother had returned and seemed oblivious to both our distress.) Eventually Dot was lost, but long after Emily needed her since she had at her own request started living with her dad exclusively. Your story brought back many memories, mostly of my own ignorance and of a small child who was asked to assume the adult responsibility of Keeping Up With Things long before she was able. I’m glad Emily forgave me and doesn’t remember me as the inadequate stepmother I too often was. Only a few material things in life are important, and Dot was one of those. I get it now.
I read Valerie’s twitter thread and immediately ordered an airtag. Woe to the airline that claims my lost bag is sitting at an airport.
My deepest sympathy to your daughter. I well know the pain of lost things. And even though I am an entirely grown person, the entire "Knuffle Bunny" arc (lost/found/sent on his way by a child who grew up) still pains me.
My heart hurts in just the right way after reading this piece, like listening to Joni Mitchell singing The Circle Game. Thanks so much for this!
What a kind gesture by your daughter. Good for her.
I bought Spare by Prince Harry yesterday (I KNOW) and learned that his dad, the now King of England, still has his childhood teddy bear, and it's gone through many repairs. I've never read a more humanizing thing about a very strange person.
Beautiful. Then you walloped me with that ending. Like a giant puff of feathers and soft blankie flannel descending around my head. Thank you for this gorgeous writing, and thinking, today.
This is just the kind of 'hidden' history of families and childhood, and parenting that I like. It brought back a flood of memories of my son's blankie, which i have safely tucked up in a wooden hope chest of baby stuff for future (if any) grandkids. Thanks for illuminating a very human experience.
Really good piece - thank you.
I had a Blankie (and was also a thumb sucker). My parents decided that once I started first grade, I needed to give up Blankie because I was a big girl now and couldn't be carrying around a blanket and/or sucking my thumb. So smol me walked to the dumpster with my dad and threw Blankie in.
I cried when recounting that story for YEARS, and my eyes still well up nearly 40 years later. I'm so glad my little sister was allowed to keep her blanker(s) for much longer.
I feel like the takeaway here is to pick something you can purchase multiples of so there's always a spare ready to swap in!