Monkey has been Will’s friend, constant companion, confidant, and protector since before his first birthday. With soft “fur” on the top and a red, satin material on the bottom, Monkey was the perfect lovey for cuddling. And Will had a deep bond with it.
I didn’t realize how deep until a few months ago when Monkey went missing.
I knew telling him Monkey was gone would be bad, but I didn’t realize just how much it would affect him. He was crushed. Beyond that, really. The repercussions from losing Monkey got so bad it started to negatively impact his school work and his social behavior. At first I was worried we weren’t doing a good enough job providing that to him ourselves as parents, but in talking with other moms and dads they reported similar stories of deep and very real bonds with stuffed animals, security blankets, etc.
I thought we had turned a corner and moved on, but a recent show & tell for Will’s kindergarten class brought back a flood of loss and grieving. Stuffed Animal Day was pretty traumatic in this household, and it led to lots of tears and tapping right back into that reservoir of sadness.
In my head the solution was easy. It was time for Dad’s Dose of Tough Love. Move on, kid. There are plenty of other stuffed animals. Monkey isn’t real. You’re too big for loveys anyways. MJ did not think it was advisable, but I didn’t see any other alternative. Plus, I kind of thought losing Monkey was a blessing in disguise since I would’ve had to take it away at some point anyway.
But then Will caught me off guard and, once again, showed me what an idiot I am.
“Dad, can I ask people on Facebook if they’ve seen Monkey? Like with missing kids?”
This was the result. It broke my heart.
My wife (who is so much smarter than I am) tried to tell me losing Monkey was like losing a friend, but I just couldn’t see it. Until that video. His pleas devastated me and his words were daggers into my cold heart, as I realized I had been downplaying my son’s very real emotional trauma.
But then came the phone call from my parents, and the realization that the universe tends to work shit out on its own whilst dispensing lessons that should be obvious but often aren’t.
But instead of telling you about it, have a look at the moment two good friends were reunited. I dare you not to cry.
His look of joy and relief made my Grinch heart grow multiple sizes that day. Because I realized anything that makes my son that happy and secure can’t be a bad thing. Hell, my wife brought her favorite stuffed animals to college. I brought my sports collectibles too. Really, it’s no different.
So long lost friends are once again reunited, and a peace has settled over the Daddy Files estate. And one stubborn dad in southeastern Massachusetts has been shown his way isn’t the only way, and he has lots to learn when it comes to parenting.