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Let's Panic: The Book!

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How to Endure and Possibly Triumph Over the Adorable Tyrant
who Will Ruin Your Body, Destroy Your Life, Liquefy Your Brain,
and Finally Turn You
into a Worthwhile
Human Being.

Written by Alice Bradley and Eden Kennedy

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Sleep Is
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Chicago Review Press

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RIP, Minty Bear.

We have returned from Montauk, full of sandy, lobster-rolly memories, but missing a beloved member of our family: Minty Bear.

Henry and his Minty Bear.

Henry and Minty Bear.

I bought Minty Bear--so named for her pastel-green hue—when I was five months pregnant. When I didn't yet understand that when you have a baby, the world dumps truckloads of stuffed animals over your head. When I couldn't have predicted that within months we would be cramming animals into industrial-sized plastic bags and hauling them to the Salvation Army, where they would join their bereft, plushy brethren.

Anyway, when Henry was an infant we kept Minty Bear in his crib, because it didn't have any pull-out eyes or pop-'em-off buttons or related chokeables. He liked it fine, but then again he was also smitten with the ceiling fan, and would spend hours chuckling at it. There you go again, ceiling fan. Whirling and whirling. Oh, ceiling fan, you are a minx. But as the months passed he developed a decided preference for Minty over the ten or so stuffed animals that we had room for. Sure, he had the occasional fling with Black Bear or Teensy the Elephant. There was that weird jag with Tup Tup, the hard-bodied, scratchy-furred Siamese Cat Steiff. But in the end, he always came back to Minty.

The Minty/Henry bond was only strengthened over the years. Every night, he gathered Minty Bear in his arms and hunkered down on top of her. Every morning, he dragged her out of bed and downstairs to join him in buildng his mighty Lego Army, occasionally stopping to kiss her ears and murmur her name. He enjoyed discussing her positive attributes: her softness, her excellent smell. (A smell built up from countless nights of either drooling or peeing on her—or, hell, both--which no amount of washing could totally expunge.) She was his baby. His words.

The night we returned from Montauk, Scott asked me, as he does most nights, where Minty Bear had gone to. Henry made do that night with Black Bear while the two of us searched. And searched and searched. And I realized that at the hotel, I had failed to execute a final under-the-bed search before we left, although I had checked every other nook and cranny of the room. I called the hotel. The woman who answered the phone promised to call if it was found, but when I offered to give her a description, she just said, "It's a bear. Got it," and hung up. I didn't hold out much hope.

The next morning we told Henry that Minty Bear was probably gone for good. He asked me to call the hotel again, which I did. No luck. He nodded and said, "Okay, next we need to call the police." I tried to explain that typically the police weren't called in such matters. That's when his lower lip started trembling. "You mean I'll never see her again? Not even when I die?"

It went on like that for a while. He wept for her and also recited poetry on the spot about Minty Bear "going to sea" while his heart "blew up." He had us both in tears by the end when he sang a song called "Bye Minty/Bye Henry," in which both bear and boy bid each other adieu, forever and ever. (He sang both parts.)

Then he asked me to call the hotel again.

He seemed to recover after that, although he had moments—moments in which he demanded that I look at him as his eyes spilled big fat teardrops and he whispered "I'll never see Minty again." My own heart was blowing up. I called the hotel a few more times. They didn't ask me not to call again, but they thought it.

Then, yesterday, we found another Minty Bear. We were at a toy store, finding a present for another child, a child whose parents have probably never misplaced that child's best friend and soulmate, when I spied Minty Bear II on a shelf. I picked it up. I wasn't sure if this was a good move.

"Henry?" I said, and showed it to him. He looked it over, gave it a hug."It doesn't feel right," he said. "It feels too fat." He looked at it some more. "No, it's good. I think we should take it."

But on the way home he wept more for Minty Bear, and I doubted the wisdom of the purchase. "Oh Minty," he keened. "Gone forever."

"Maybe we should tell this Minty Bear about the other one, so she knows how special she was to you."

Nothing from the backseat. Then: "You go first."

So I told Minty Bear II all about Minty Bear I. How I had found her in a store when Henry wasn't born yet, and I knew she was meant to be his bear. How much Henry loved her. How he loved to smell her ears, which smelled like stale little-boy pee (I didn't say that part). And how she was his baby.

Then I kept going. I said that Minty Bear loved Henry so much that she told all her relatives about him, about this great deal she had with this amazing little boy. And her relatives were jealous. Why do you get all that love when we're stuck in this toy store? they wondered. So she cut a deal with one of her cousins, a bear who happened to be waiting for a boy of his own in New Jersey, of all places. I've had plenty of good years, she told her cousin, so I'll take off and maybe, just maybe, they'll find you. And that's just what happened. And in this way Henry made two bears very, very happy.

He was suspiciously quiet. Was he sleeping? I pulled up to the house and turned around. He was staring at the bear. He looked at me. "We did a good thing," he said. He kissed the new Minty Bear's ears, and closed his eyes.

Reader Comments (199)


My 3-year-old has "purple blankie." I fear the day that purple blankie gets lost, or falls apart. By now, all the love she bestows on it has given it magical properties. I myself had a special bear growing up. I still have it, in fact. I still love it, too.

You really came through for Henry with that sweet story. Hooray!
July 9, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterRhonda
You need to really warn your menstruating sistahs when writing this. I almost shorted out my Dell. I agree: you are supper. The homemade kind.
July 9, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterjbeeky
You did a good thing. You also got me all choked up.

We have a stuffed Doggie like that -- I'll be dreadfully upset if anything ever happens to him.
July 9, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterteryn
Poor Henry! Poor finslippy! This breaks my heart because we've been there.

At our house my daughter has Bunny Baby (from Goodnight Moon) and my son HAD Brownie, who was a little brown dog that he dearly loved since he was tiny. And who mysteriously disappeared from his bed one day after the cleaning ladies came three months ago and we haven't seen him since.

I fight to keep the image of our dearly-loved Brownie rotting in a landfill somewhere out of my mind and hope against hope that he's shoved in a closet somewhere. But so far, no dice. I might try to find a replacement, but since my son is 7, I'm doubtful if it would work.

RIP Minty Bear I! And welcome, Minty Bear II.
July 9, 2007 | Unregistered Commenter3 to get ready
I had a similar saga with a koala many years ago. She was left at my brother's high school graduation. My mom said that after she finally got my tear-soaked self to bed sans koala, she sat down and cried herself for about an hour.
July 9, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterKrissa
Very, very lovely.
July 9, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterHeather B.
Don't give up on Minty I!! When I was 17 (embarassing but true), I left a beloved stuffed rabbit in a hotel on Mackinac Island, MI. We called the hotel and gave a mailing address in case they found it, but nothing ever showed up. I tried to play it cool but I had some of the same panicky thoughts that Henry is having: "never to see Jack Rabbit again? sniff sniff" Of course I couldn't really share them because at 17 it wouldn't have been considered so "cute," more "insane."

Anyways, for my 20th birthday, my cousins (who had been with me in Mackinac) were crazy excited for me to open my gift...which turned out to be, you guessed it, Jack Rabbit. Turns out the hotel had mailed it 3 years earlier, but my aunt, who is known to be a little scatterbrained, took her time picking it up from the post office. So keep a candle in the window for Minty 1.
July 9, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterohkelly
This is just beautiful, on your part and on Henry's, and I'm so glad you found a replacement - you won't regret it. If you can stand one more story -- My son lost "Little Bear" on a 20-foot trip from the car to a Little Gym one night - got two replacements from some Ty collector in Nebraska. (two, in advance of the next loss). I switched the two new Little Bears back and forth for a while (he'd play with one while I hid the other in the closet so they'd wear out kind of evenly) - but it was all over when he found the other in the closet - he was stunned at his good luck. Suddenly we had Little Bear, and also, Little Bear's twin cousin. The cousin just is not as favored (I think because it is cleaner, not flattened, and not as smelly) . . . thanks for your beautiful story.
July 9, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterCindy
I never would have imagined that a story about a teddy bear would make me cry, and yet it did. I'm so happy you found Minty Bear II.
July 9, 2007 | Unregistered Commentersherry
Oooh, Minty Bear I. You made me cry. You also made me remember Pink Blankie, which was torn from me and tossed by a stupid babysitter who thought she was a child psychologist while my parents were on vacation. I still miss it, and I'm 34. I learned years later that there had been at least three Pink Blankies - it would magically come out of the wash without holes.

Before my nephew became glued to Andrew Bear, his parents dropped him (the bear, not my nephew) on a shuttle at the college where I worked. I recovered him, wiped the vague smell of cheap shuttle driver cologne off of him, and we took him to Disneyland. Mickey kissed him on the nose. He's now an honorary citizen of the Magic Kingdom. He had a churro, he wouldn't keep his paws inside the Monorail, and he insisted we go on Splash Mountain twice. He finally made his way home with a full photo book.
July 9, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterWendyP
Oh my...I'm at my desk crying over Minty Bear.

I wake up some nights in a cold sweat after dreaming that we lost G.G.'s blanket. It too has just the right smell of musty sweat, thumb sucking and pee.

G.G.'s blanket can cure everything and instantly makes Prince Alexi feel better.

If there is a god he will never let us lose G.G.'s blanket!
July 9, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterKristine
Heart. Blowing. Up. Thanks for making me cry at work!

This reminded me of my right hand bear, Gundi, who was left under a hotel bed in New Jersey when we were both of a tender age. Fortunately, the kind staff sent him back to me, unharmed, in a box complete with air holes.

I'm happy to report that Gundi and I are still happy roommates today, although he no longer sleeps next to me. No worries, he and my fiance get along just fine.

I'm sure that Minty II will fit right in with your family. Congratulations on your new edition!
July 9, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterDrew
Someone gave my 7-year old a pair of matching receiving blankets when he was born. Only once did we lose both simultaneously, though only for about 30 minutes. One was lost for a whole year after we moved. He still has them both, though he doesn't take them to bed at night anymore.

My younger son has "Blue Bunny," which is, you guessed it - a blue bunny. Blue Bunny goes everywhere, though he has to stay in the car when we go to stores or restaurants now. I love the smile on his sleeping face when I retrieve Blue Bunny and put the animal in his arms. If I rattle it (it has a rattle) while he's sleeping, he will often reach out for it. It is his best friend, and I am not looking forward to the day when he no longer needs it.

Your post was lovingly written and really hit home for me.
July 9, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMichele
Weeeeeepy! So beautiful!
July 9, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterKarin
That story almost killed me. I swear to god. Minty! Miiiiiiinty! Blog readers everywhere are reading tyour post and having traumatic lost-lovey flashbacks.

July 9, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterBarbara
When I was a baby my great aunt gave me a bear, his name was Boo-Boo Bear. He was a good friend, he let me dress him in clothes and I would sleep everynight with him smooshed under my tummy. I'd hold onto his tiny little off white arms. And I'd bury my face in his ears for my naps. He was my best friend. My family made a move across the country, and before we moved into our house we stayed in a hotel. And when we left that hotel, we left Boo Boo. In the bed. A simple white bear, tossed in white hotel sheets. I didn't realize until the next night. That my best friend was gone. My parents called, my father returned to the hotel to talk to the manager, but nothing was found for days. Until one morning my dad got a call at work, they had found Boo-Boo. In the laundry room. He had gone through with the sheets, and it took that long to get to the laundry. When my dad came home with Boo-Boo, his thread nose seemed to have unraveled while he was gone, and he was left with only half. But it served as a scar, of what he had been through...of his adventures without me. No doubt that Minty Bear is having adventures of her own. This was beautifully written, and it brought tears of my childhood back...thank you.
July 9, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterp|b
you weren't kidding in your "about" section when you wrote that everything you write is brilliant. Amen to that, sister. this is a "print out and hang on the fridge" post!
July 9, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterdebbie
How beautifully sweet.
July 9, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterRobbin
Oh, we had the same trauma in March--we lost Punky (Monkey--she used to call him Punky when she couldn't say Monkey, so he's been Punky ever since) at the zoo. We had a spare, but man, the trauma--and I'm not talking about my child's. She cried at first, and has sporadically since then, but I wept--I felt like I'd lost part of my child's babyhood. The spare Punky wasn't the same to me, though when I finally did get him out and give him to her it did make me feel better. Of course, since then, every few months, she sighs (or, if she's tired, cries) and asks when her old Punky is coming home from "vacation" at the zoo. Boy, she sticks me right in the heart with that one.
July 9, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJen
So sweet. However, don't ever show Henry this website:

Or he might be tempted to do a few more Good Things.

We have Pancake. The same as Minty Bear but yellow. (Well, we actually have Original Pancake, Regular Pancake and The Other Real Fluffy Pancake to prevent just such a Tragic Event.) (Mmmm, actually we have about six of them, because we are crazy.) (Okay, I lied. We've got nine.) (Like I said, craaaaaaazy.)
July 9, 2007 | Unregistered Commentermadge
You're making me tear up with that story - it was beautiful, and I'm so glad you got to adopt Minty Bear II. And also that you had a good vacation - Montauk is gorgeous. Now, watch the hotel find the first bear and cause some huge bear drama.
July 9, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMelanie
OMG I haven't cried like that since The Velveteen Rabbit.
July 9, 2007 | Unregistered Commentervictoria
What a wonderful story. I bought a backup when my son got attached to his "WOO". Good thing too since we needed it. My DH forgot Woo at a playground and she landed in the trash barrel. He dug her out the next day but thank God for the backup Woo.
July 9, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterEllen
I hope my 3-month-old develops a love like this...right now his only "cuddly" is a cloth diaper.

Thank you for this beautiful piece of writing.

My childhood rabbit, "Bunsy" will also enjoy it...

July 9, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterChristen
You got me crying too. Good work. By which I mean, really, no kidding, brilliant writing.

Also, you are the world's most inspired on-the-spot storyteller.

And since everyone's telling stories about them, I once stalled a school trip in Ireland because I almost left Scooter (the stuffed seal) in a hotel room. I got back off the bus, ran into the hotel, back to the room, retrieved Scooter, stashed him in my sweater, and dashed back to the bus. (Did I mention I was about 16?) I'm 25 now, and Scooter still lives with me, though he's now banned from shorter riskier trips.
July 9, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterSara

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