Monday, December 1, 2008

Send in the Clones

Isn't it rich?
There are more than a pair!
Two Lammies lie face down on the ground.
Two sit and stare.
Send in the clones!
Isn't it bliss?
Oh, what a tale!
Four of your daughter's favorite toys
How could it fail?
But we are the clowns.
Naive, troubled clowns.

With all due respect to Mr Sinatra, Ms. Streisand, and the rest of the talented people who sang the song I just parodied, there is no time for for singing. We have a serious problem.

We, as parents, thought we could cover our bases and stock up on Penelope's favorite toy. Her security object. What parent would not do anything to ensure the security of their child? We are nothing if not our own Department of Homeland Security. It was a sure-fire way to guarantee she would never be without Lammie. Lose one... here's another!One's dirty... this one's clean! Left one upstairs... there's one downstairs!

What could possibly go wrong?

Here's what: We never thought she would choose a favorite. That's right. At the risk of getting into a constitutional debate, not all Lammies are created equal.

And here's the stomp on the foot after the punch to the gut: Only Penelope can tell which of the 4 Lammies is THE Lammie. Putting her to bed has become a nightly ritual reminiscent of "The Dating Game."

"Will it be Bachelorette Number 1, Bachelorette Number 2, or Bachelorette Number 3?"

For the record, the fourth Lammie is "day care" Lammie, and is always with Penelope's day care things. And, to our amazement, Penelope is fully aware that "day care" Lammie exists only to be carried to, played with, and soiled at day care. She even switches in the car. The chosen Lammie comes for the ride, then sits in the car seat to "wait" for Penelope. Then the stunt double - day care Lammie - fills in during the raucous, messy day at school. At the end of the day, we return to numero uno, sitting patiently in the car, covered in a blanket.

We all pick our favorites. Favorite teams, favorite colors, favorite flavors of ice cream. I have a favorite seat in the house. My wife has a favorite Earth Wind & Fire song. Heck, parents even pick their favorite children (don't say that you don't, because you do). So why wouldn't we think that Penelope would develop a preference for one of these Lammies?

It was our mistake. In thinking ahead, we didn't think ahead. We assumed our daughter would maintain the brain capacity of a nine-month old, and continue to be fooled by our wacky hijinx.

Sometimes it's so difficult to tell them apart, that even Penelope gets confused. We've started to assume which one is the top dog - or lamb - by where Penelope puts her in the playing pecking order. She's either "sleeping" under a blanket on the floor, or in her toy stroller. But Penelope will insist that THE Lammie isn't really THE Lammie. It's like arguing with your grandmother over how to pronounce "Arkansas." For the record, my grandma Sylvia pronounced it "ar-KANsas." As if the state of Kansas just had an "Ar-" stuck to front of it. No, Grandma, it's "Ar-kin-saw." And that conversation would last 15 minutes.

"Sweetheart, THIS is your Lammie." And she'll shake her head feverishly and refuse it, like an amnesia patient who doesn't recognize his family. Then we have to play The Dating Game again. And round up all the Lammies, and make her choose. And she'll reluctantly choose the one we told her was indeed the chosen one. Like Grandma finally relenting after you've pulled out the dictionary.

And try pulling the old switcheroo, and she'll make you pay. The other night my wife tried to sneak up on Penelope while she slept, and take Lammie #1 to wash it, and replace it with a stand-in. Every time, Penelope woke up, smiled, said "Lammie," and then said "night night." Foiled three times! Lammie escapes the bath for another week!

It just goes to show you, try to outsmart your kids, and they'll eventually learn from - and turn the tables on - the master of deception.

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