Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Night Greenie Disappeared

That stupid blanket. A phrase I can't count how many times I've said now. It's not even really a blanket. A blanket keeps you warm when you sleep, covers your furniture when you move, or provides more appropriate bedding for the family dog when their expensive Martha Stewart-approved pet bed just won't cut it. No, this does none of these.

It's one square foot of polyester. But to my daughter, it might as well be a pacemaker.

Like many parents, we fell early victims to the security blanket trap. Force your impressionable young toddler to cling to some fabric as a necessity for sleeping and any other time they show the slightest signs of discomfort until it becomes an obsession? Sure!  Look how happy she is! What could possibly go wrong?

Plenty. These things should come with FDA warning labels. They have more adverse side effects than a hair dryer in a bath tub, but it's the one thing Big Government fails to try and protect us from. Nowhere on this thing does it say WARNING: THIS PRODUCT IS ADDICTIVE. QUITTING NOW GREATLY REDUCES SERIOUS RISKS TO YOUR HEALTH. DO NOT LOSE OR YOU WILL NEVER SLEEP AGAIN.

An Aunt and Uncle got it for her. It's green. So it's called Greenie (or maybe it's Greeny, I don't know, we've never had to spell it.) It's silky on one side, fleecy on the other and apparently made with fibers from the crack plant.  For the first year or so, things were manageable. But as her mobility increased, so did the degree of difficulty in keeping the thing around and not in the trash, or a slushy parking lot, or in the duct work of the house -where various other things have ended up. Given we're into year three and with countless airports, zoo trips, three moves, and the infamous blueberry-puking incident of 2012, it's unbelievable the thing is still around.

(As an important side note, mother, in a vain attempt at good, bought and introduced a duplicate Greenie that was actually brown with polka-dots. I don't know why she did this. I wasn't present at the time and had I been, I would have dove to prevent this tragedy like Secret Service agent taking a bullet. So instead of dedicating our lives to the preservation of one security blanket, we now had two to keep up with. Fortunately, brown Greenie, as it is became known, was never truly accepted as equal to real Greenie and was relegated to just an occasional necessity. But still, TWO? If we ever get divorced, I am bringing this up in court.)

All kids are creatures of habit. Nowhere is this more apparent, important, and binge drinking-inducing than the dinner table and bedtime. You invest countless hours perfecting and tweaking the routines to garner kid approval and a few hours of sleep at night. The slightest omission or deviation and your day is ruined. Launching a nuke requires less attention to detail. Over time their tastes and habits change and you adjust accordingly, but some things stay constant. And it's always that stupid Greenie.

In two plus years of bedtimes with a Greenie, I could count on one hand the number of nights she's slept without it. Because in three plus years of fatherhood, I've become damn good at finding things. Instinctively now, I keep a mental tab of this thing's last known whereabouts. It's behind the potted plant in the guest room! I recount as the bedtime ritual begins. Sure, sometimes it goes missing but always seems to turn up just in the nick of time. Once, I spent an hour tearing the house apart for a missing Greenie only to find it underneath her in bed. I think she planned that, but I can't prove it. In fact, when "missing" it's frequently within a five foot radius of her.

But not last night. We've adapted the routine at night in case Greenie is missing. We'll go look for it while you wait here. This buys us some time before a massive meltdown, on rare occasions she'll even pass out. But not last night. Last night I couldn't find it and she did not approve. Between occasionally breaks to pick her writhing, sobbing body back into bed, I look for that "blanket" for three hours. Eventually she stopped opening and slamming her door and passed out. Eventually I gave up looking.

I checked the usual haunts. The cars. The basement. The appliances. I even pulled kitchen drawers out and looked behind (note, don't do this, it's gross.) Mom opened the front door and look outside, minus five degree weather and foot of snow withstanding. I found a picture from New Year's Eve that had Greenie in the background. A CLUE! But, nothing.

Later that night, the missus and I begin to discuss the worst case. What do we do?  Do we tell her she's a big kid now and it's time to move on? Did it run away and is living on a nice farm? Can we just order a new one and hope she doesn't notice? What if she finds it a year from now? DO WE HAVE TO LIVE THIS NIGHTMARE ALL OVER AGAIN? Whatever we tell her, it will have to be well-crafted and carefully constructed. Cross-interrogation will be intense and kids are masters of B.S. They know it when they hear it.

This morning I woke with dread, that feeling that you just wish today wasn't here because something bad was about to happen. It wasn't long before the distinctive sound of a woken three year old and she was headed my way.

Dad, did you find Greenie?

No, do you remember where you put it? Well played dad. Your move kiddo. 

Found it. Can I have some cereal?

Sure. Please leave Greenie in your room.

Stupid blanket.