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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,
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into a Worthwhile
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Written by Alice Bradley and Eden Kennedy

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Monday
Jul092007

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)

P.S.--Since we lost Punky, I've wondered why in the world anyone would keep him--but they have! The zoo has our number, our name, a description, and we've heard nothing. For the first few days, I was really confident we'd hear--who the hell would want a really loved-looking, slightly dingy, slightly spit-smelling Gund monkey with my daughter's name written on the tag? What kid's mother would allow him or her to keep such a thing? Any mother would take one look and know what it was--some little person's lovey. Surely there's a special kind of karma for the person who doesn't turn something like that in to a lost and found.
July 9, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJen
"Minty told her cousin" and "we did something good." Barack Obama has found his running mates, for sure. Way to problem-solve, and heal a broken heart!
July 9, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterBipolarlawyercook
I'm glad I'm not the only one who cried over that post.

And for goodness sake, don't lost Minty Bear II!!
July 9, 2007 | Unregistered Commentererin
This may very well be my favorite post by you, not least because I have a similar tale about my older daughter and her lovey, Little Nutbrown Hare.I'm just stunned at how brilliant and artistic Henry is. And what a loving heart he has.
July 9, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMelanie
I like how you handled it. I'm certain I'd have tried to convince my kid that it was the same bear - only fatter because she'd been off on an eating binge. Your way was better I think.
July 9, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterbellevelma
Wow, too cute.
July 9, 2007 | Unregistered Commentermel
Oh Minty Bear! You did indeed do a good thing. I'm blinking back tears.
July 9, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterGenie
We had a problem when we misplaced Sam, my daughter's favourite friend (a beanie baby kid). Luckily, I had a spare Sam available from a previous misplacement, and so she didn't notice at all. Until she found the first one and was confronted with the mindblowing reality of TWO SAMS!!! I had to think fast! I told her that one of them was actually Sam's twin brother, uh, uh, uh, MAS! Yes, and Mas was visiting from uh, uh, uh, Australia! And he had to go back the next day. Daddy dropped him at the airport on the way to work. She fell for it completely!
July 9, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterlb
I am in tears for Minty Bear and your lovley little son. Not. Kidding.

I lost my Bunny Alice at school shortly before I was diagnosed with Type I Diabetes, and man, those two weeks in the hospital would have sucked marginally less with her company than they did without.

25 years later, and I am still grateful for The Velveteen Rabbit, who helped me believe Alice got to be Real, and that is why she went away. Losing your best stuffed animal friend sucks.
July 9, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterKate C.
That is why, by the way, no child of mine will ever take her Minty Bear (or whoever) anywhere other than to bed. If I can manage to pull it off. Which I doubt.
July 9, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterKate C.
Seriously, thanks for making me tear up. Your post was so sweet and genuine - I love reading all the comments here because we've all been in that boat, as the child or the parent. My mother had a beloved teddy bear that she received as a young girl, and even as a kid I remember her denying my visiting grandmother's attempts to patch it up. I still recall, when it could no longer be avoided, sitting quietly to watch my mother painstakingly snip the old stitches, fill the wilted body with fresh fluff, and fix him up again. When she graduated college after years of hardships the same year I graduated high school, we managed to take a trip to Europe together - the first time out of the country for both of us - and we both packed our childhood comfort toys, her loveworn teddy and my noseless yellow bunny. After she passed away from cancer at 47 it was the only object of hers I couldn't assent to give away to a politely inquiring aunt - I couldn't let go of the bear that she had managed to keep for over forty years, that she had lent to me when I had nightmares, that embodied her loving nature and nurturing...um, ness. There's just something about those first loves, inanimate though they may seem to be..
July 9, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMary
thank you for sharing that--brought back memories of a Florida hotel room, circa 1990, where I left my bear, Brown Grey. My grandpa (who we were visiting) took me to the toy store to pick out a replacement, which is how I ended up with Florida the blue bunny with the always-loose ear.

And even though I miss Brown Grey, it's one of the best memories I have of my grandfather, who died a few years later. I hope Henry remembers your bittersweet transition from Minty I to Minty II with similar fondness.
July 9, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterStacy
Only my child could fall in love with something they stopped making four or five years before she was even born. She received Hammie the Pig from my aunt and uncle when she was about 7 months old, and he was a constant companion. We did even manage to find an extra Hammie, "just in case". But she never liked Hammie II as long as Hammie the King was still around. However, back in May Caroline herself decided that the original Hammie had been "loved to bits" and his fabric was too thin for me to sew anymore, so she said it was okay if we put him in a special box so he could rest and still be around to show her babies when she has some. Caroline got a yellow sticky note and wrote out "Caroline R....M.... age 5 Hammie the Pig; July 2002-May 8, 2007" It looks like a little Post-It headstone! But Hammie is in his plastic box on her bookshelf, facing her bed so he can still see her when she sleeps, and she sleeps with Hammie Jr. just fine. I hope the same for Henry and MintyBear.
July 9, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterAnne
Awww. I absolutely love it. LOVE. IT.

And I am infinitely glad that we bought millions of the puppy that was/is Declan's lovey. Seriously. We had 16 of them at one point that just kept rotating through the wash. They are all named "Puppy."
July 9, 2007 | Unregistered Commenteraimee/greeblemonkey
A very similar thing happened to me as a preschool-child. I had a small white bear I loved more than all the other piles of stuffed animals that poured out of our home. One day, I left Snowflake at the college bookstore and when we returned he was gone! Well, I came across another Snowflake a year later and he came home me. Even now, grown up with a job and all that adult stuff, Snowflake has stayed with me. He's long since turned grey and has an old, sweet smell. Thanks for helping me remember how special that is.
July 9, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterEmily
I have been so touched by all of the tales of lost love in the comments! I lost my best childhood pal "Furry Friend" while on a trip with just my dad and my sister -- the only time I can remember my mom sending us off without her. Dad fed us (at 3 and 5 years old) a bag of potato chips and a soda for dinner and I puked all over the bed. My bear got swept off to the hotel laundry with the sheets. After several frantic phone calls, he was returned with a note attached that said "squirrel sucking his thumb" when anyone could plainly see that he was a bear with a bottle in his hand. I was so indignant that anyone could be so blind! Truth be told, a bear doesn't have a long furry tail like that, but my parents were kind and didn't point that out.

Kudos to you for spinning such a lovely, warm, comforting tale that got Henry past the rough spot. I could only hope for such grace under pressure if we lost my Henry's two puppies Goldfish and Pandy.
July 9, 2007 | Unregistered Commenteramy
I read you faithfully and savour each entry (although too intimidated by your brilliance and that of your posse to comment before) but this one had me apoplectic with laughter...the whole way through. Truly, I did not take a breath. Had you been here in person, telling me the story I would have been literally rolling around, clutching my sides, begging you to stop because it huuuuuurts... there may have even been some snorting (even though it was indeed heart-breaking but really, you make heart breaking insanely funny).And then, the last line. The last line made me cry.THAT is good writing.You did a good thing. Your little boy is a gem.
July 9, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterKirsty
Oh. Oh, okay. I see how this is going to be. Suddenly I'm some elusive symbol of childhood lost. How CONVENIENT. What am I, the Velveteen Freakin' Rabbit? I just, like, ran off somewhere and am now dancing in a meadow somewhere with the other lost bears? Lady, please.

I should have known this was where I'd end up someday--here in the dark directly under some overly amorous couple who, let me tell you, are not shy about verbalizing exactly what they intend to do to one another. If these minty cheeks could blush, I tell you what.

Henry. Come on, man, wise up. She's lying! As for your rampant disloyalty, well ... I'm willing to chalk that up to heart-crushing grief, but if you let that shoddy replacement share your pillow at night, it's so over. Do you hear me? Over. Don't you DARE, Henry.

It's not too late. We can still work this out, you know. Henry, just sneak out the window and take a cab to Montauk and we can be together again, just the two of us, like it's meant to be. Sure, it'll be tough to survive on our own, but I'm not actually susceptible to starvation, so really, I can take it if you can.

And you'd better take it, mister. Because there's no way you're leaving me here with these two people who are breaking six separate decency laws AS WE SPEAK.

Henry? You there, little dude? Come on, man. Throw a bear a BONE, will you?

Hello?

God, I need a fucking cigarette.
July 9, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMinty Bear
I loved your story. It made me cry a little. My husband, who's in China for business, mocked me, so I sent him the link to see how stoic he could remain. But, finslippy is blocked in China!
July 9, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterLara
Oh, it's The Velveteen Rabbit all over again, and I am sobbing my little heart out.
July 9, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterAnnika
oh,jesus, where can I get a kathy kruse terry cloth lamb immediately. This happened to my husband on a cross country trip, and he is still talking about it thirty five years later.
July 9, 2007 | Unregistered Commentersally
oh,jesus, where can I get a kathy kruse terry cloth lamb immediately. This happened to my husband on a cross country trip, and he is still talking about it thirty five years later.
July 9, 2007 | Unregistered Commentersally
I am weeping. WEEPING.
July 9, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterleah
My parents lost my Boo Boo (a basset hound) in our own home, so don't feel bad. I still remember that awful night when after hours of searching, with all four of my siblings helping, I had to face a the first of many Boo Boo-less nights.But my sister bought me a replacement--when I was 14. (I still have him 28 years later)
July 10, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterLaurie Ann
Do you have an email addie for the hotel....send them this blog and then see if they care a bit more about Minty #1. I suspect they would scour the building and seal the doors until Minty was found. Hoorah for Minty #2, splendid ending and heart warming tale. Come home minty #1.
July 10, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterHelen

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