Monday, April 7, 2008

Penelope Had a Little Lamb

If you were stranded on a deserted island, and you could only have one thing, one personal item to get you through, what would it be? I'd want a pillow. My pillow. Big blue. It's soft, but not too soft. Thick, lumpy, and fits my big noggin perfectly.

If your house was on fire, and everyone was ensured to get out safely, and you had time to grab just one thing, what would you take with you? I'd probably grab my Emmy. Could possibly be the only one I'll ever win. So I'm taking it with me.

Regardless of the situation, Penelope needs just one thing. Her lamb. Lammie. A stuffed animal so pivotal to her happiness, we own four of them. One for home. One for day care. One for traveling. And one just in case one of the other ones gets lost. Why have we taken such measures to ensure that Lammie is there when she - when we - need her? As David Banner said, "You don't want to see me when I'm angry." Well, you do not want to see Penelope without Lammie. She's a pint-sized Incredible Hulk, but instead of green skin, it's red, blotchy and tear-marked.

My niece had a legendary stuffed friend. An adorable dog named "Poochie." Poochie was so beloved, such a member of the family, such a part of our everyday lives and vernacular that my father showed off his skills with his brand new 1985 Panasonic video camera - a contraption so large by today's standards Scorcese would be intimidated - by making a movie starring just Poochie. A one dog show.

Sadly, Poochie mysteriously vanished during a routine trip to ShopRite one day. The police were called, the store surveillance tapes were pulled and combed dozens of times, Poochie's cute little face was plastered on posters and milk cartons throughout Ocean County. Yet despite the best efforts of some of the finest in law enforcement and the most dedicated of volunteers, Poochie was never found. And my niece, now 22, has never fully recovered.

You don't choose your family, but you do choose your friends. And Penelope chose Lammie, and they are inseparable. There was no ceremony, no hyped-up nationally televised episode where the winner was selected through a nationwide vote, no primaries, no campaigning. One day, she just picked Lammie, and hung on for dear life.

Mere mention of Lammie's name invokes non-stop giggling from Penelope, and a frantic search that will not end until Lammie is in hand, and thumb is in mouth. It's pretty amazing. She could be inconsolable. She could reject the comforts offered by me and my wife like a high school cheerleader rejects a date proposal from the class geek. And once Lammie comes into view, even before she has her in her hands, the crying starts to subside, and the thumb is already headed home. There are some narcotics that don't work this fast and this well.

It's not that her happiness relies solely on the presence of this furry little stuffed lamb, but it certainly doesn't hurt to have her around. On a side note, who assigns gender to a child's security object? In my eyes, Lammie is clearly a girl. So we refer to it as "her."

Lammie even smells like Penelope. The perfect mixture of Johnson's Baby Shampoo, Cheerios, Desitin, and bananas. So soft and sweet and delicious.

A great debate rages amongst some parents as to whether these security objects benefit the child or not. And I don't have the answer. I do know my wife and I each had one. She had Ellie, a stuffed elephant. I had Koalie, you guessed it, a stuffed koala bear. Actually, we still have them. One day a couple of years ago the dog found Koalie on a shelf in the closet and was playing with her, and I freaked out. She hasn't touched Koalie since. And we turned out OK, right? We're well-adjusted, confident, successful. Right? No, I'm asking. Right? We're cool, right? You like us, right?

Anyway, whether or not they're good for the child in the long term is irrelevant. Lammie is good for Penelope right now. And it's great for us. For our peace, our quiet, our sanity. So I think we'll keep her. All four of her.



  2. I regret the error. Apparently my niece, and therefore, myself, are both older than I thought. And yet, Poochie's whereabouts remain a mystery...

  3. As someone who had a "Bear-dee-lair-dee" teddy bear until the age of 9 (!) when he went to stuffed animal heaven after living for years without limbs and finally letting his head fall off... I say security objects, lovies, whatever-you-call-em are healthy parts of childhood.
    My daughter has "Teddy" and sleeps with him every night - the apple doesn't fall far (though her name for him needs work).
    You are smart to have back-ups - very smart... but are you cool? I'll sit out on that one for now.
    take care,


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