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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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At LET'S PANIC ABOUT BABIES, Eden Kennedy and I share our hard-won wisdom and tell you exactly what to think and feel and do, whether you're about to have a baby or already did and don't know what to do with it. → 

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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)

So... when is that book of yours coming out?Wonderful post.
July 10, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterAnne
Aww. Sniff. Sob.
July 10, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJem
Ack! You made me tear up in the office.

That was so lovely.
July 10, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJulie
Alice - in case you were ever in any doubt at all - you are a wonderful Mom. God bless.

July 10, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterlizneust
You have a grown man weeping at his desk, I hope you're happy. My son recently had his pet goldfish die... the fool thing only lasted about 4 days but he still tells me "Daddy, I miss Fishy-fishy-fishy Volcano." Yes, that was the fish's name, I kid you not. Excellent post. Makes me afraid of losing my son's stuffed raccoon, Wall.
July 10, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMatt
Lovely, lovely, lovely. I have another tab open, Googling #2's particular lovey to immediately purchase an emergency backup as I type.

You're wonderful, Alice.
July 10, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterNotFace
Great! Thanks for making me cry! What a sweet story.

I still have a stuffie from childhood that I sleep with every night and I've had nightmares about losing him. My daughter became very attached to a bear with no tags that had been a gift and I had to solve a little mystery to find a replacement. We now rotate between the two just in case.
July 10, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterwwbd
That seriously gave me chills and made me cry.
July 10, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterRLGelber
Maybe it speaks more to how hormonal I am, but I cried reading this and then quickly ran upstairs to check on the whereabouts of teeny tiny teddy, pink towel, and Iggy doggie (we spread our love, but we love each intensely).
July 10, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMel
Wow, what a lovely tale you came up with to spare his poor heart from blowing up for Minty... and my poor little heart too! I'm so happy he embraced Minty II and is full of love to give her now.
July 10, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterGabs
Oh wow. *sob* That was a lovely story -- so sweet. You are a wonderful mom.

My 8 year old son's Brother Spotty (Spotty #1 became too threadbare after years of loving) still sleeps with him every night. Just as Beary snuggles with my 6 year old daughter every night. She also talks about how soft Beary is and how Beary smells so good (only to her, trust me). Can't imagine losing either one. But you've given me hope that life could somehow go on.
July 10, 2007 | Unregistered Commenteriheartnewyork
Nice save !

However... Minty Bear looks suspiciously like a green version of Mr. Bear, who was lost somewhere in Colorado 3 years ago, may he rest in peace. He was replaced (well, can he ever be REPLACED ? I don't think so) by Rocky (and we bought 2 the second time).

July 10, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterBrad
Big gloppy tears rolled down my cheeks on this one. And once I finished kersnuffle-ing into a nearby tissue, I jumped online to buy my new niece who is arriving next month, the-Good-Lord-willing-and-the-creek-don't-rise, her very own version of Minty Bear, who methinks will be called Pinkie Bear. Thanks for sharing such a sweet story.
July 10, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterViaggiatore
You know, Minty I isn't dead. Someone likely found her, crying, missing Henry, and took her home to live with them, and their baby. She's in a good place, with a warm bed, and soft arms to hold her.

But great story. Made me all soft and gooey.

PS. My mom blew my Raggedy Anne doll up in the washer. I was heartbroken.
July 10, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterLana
My heart just blew up.
July 10, 2007 | Unregistered Commentersveedish
You and Henry are full of Minty Bear awesomeness. Great storytelling from the heart, and a lovely, tender photo.
July 10, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterCarolyn Bahm
Our Minti is big, plush phallus. Well, phallus-like. It used to be a plush ring-toy stand, but now, well, the ring-toys are gone and the questions that we get in public are awkward.

I'm not going to miss it when it's gone.
July 10, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterHer Bad Mother
What I thought might just be a misfortune turned out to be much more, and you made that situation so wonderful for your boy. No wonder he comes off as such a sweetheart with all those fond words. He's got you.
July 10, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterPretty Lush
First time to your blog. I love this story and read it while ignoring my screaming had me riveted.My 3 year old also has a "Minty" type. It's a little lamb that someone gave me when I was pregnant with him. My son has named her "Lambie" and he loves her like no one's business. God forbid we lose Lambie..and we've come close.Thanks for the beautiful story and blessings to Minty #1.
July 10, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJosie
We had the same thing happen with Cindy's little Stanley Bear. We were sure we had left her at a campground in southern Utah. 2 years later, when we were packing to move, we found her mysteriously stuffed at the back of the top shelf of the entryway coat closet.

"Even when I die?" Priceless.
July 10, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterPete Dunn
That is so so sweet. Although I nearly fell off my chair from holding in the laughter when I read: "There you go again, ceiling fan. Whirling and whirling. Oh, ceiling fan, you are a minx."
July 10, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea
This made me all sad and weepy over our own Monkey Guy. Who is still wandering somewhere in Disney. Monkey Guy II did ok for awhile, but never evoked the same passion that Monkey Guy I did. Thankfully, Pink Baby and Red Baby stepped in due to a very tender-hearted sister's generosity. So even though my 9yo son sleeps with two soft, cheap, filthy dolls (that he will deny to any other 9yo's), I am grateful to them for filling the void that was Monkey Guy.

May Minty Bear II fare well with Henry. Your story was far better than the lame one I came up with so I bet MBII will fill in seamlessly for his cousin.
July 10, 2007 | Unregistered Commentersusies
July 10, 2007 | Unregistered Commentercarosgram

Thanks for this post. It's a gift to your readers.
July 10, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterCarrie
We lost Bunkie - a flannel, satin-edged pastel plaid baby blanket - when Primo was three, in a hotel in mid-PA. I had done the hotel-room-scour before leaving. I called the hotel, and then hotel housekeeping, no less than SIX times in two days. I kept calling,e very week for about a month. I have had no luck replacing or replicating Bunkie (I didn't think it'd be that hard, but it IS). Every so often Primo - now six and possessor of several beloved bears and a white dog - still cries for Bunkie and sobs about never seeing him again. When I suggested that maybe another little boy is loving Bunkie, thinking it would make him feel better (I KNOW, I never said I was bright) Primo wailed, "NO!! He loves ME!" sob sob sob. Sorry for posting a veritable book, but I have so been there, and my heart broke, and I know this is just a precursor to all the things I will not be able to fix for my beloved boy.

Maybe Minty bear will show up yet. Keeping my fingers crossed.
July 10, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterbabelbabe

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