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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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Let's Panic

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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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« At least it was invisible. | Main | The suburbs are tougher than I thought. »
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)

oh, you kill me, Henry and Alice! *sniff*
July 18, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterDIANE
What a brilliant, perfect, moving story. I'm in tears.
July 20, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMarie
I just finished reading this post to my own little Henry (who happens to be 17 now.) We shared an "Ahhhhh, how sweet!" He had his own precious stuffed animal (Bear-Bear) that once got left at Grandma's house but we turned around after 22 miles out to retrieve it so we could all sleep.

My how your sweet story brings back such precious memories... I'm going to put this one in my breast pocket so it can continue to warm my heart. Thanks for posting!
July 20, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterthepapertreehouse
Let's all keep an eye out for Minty Bear!Godspeed, Finslippy!
July 20, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterLinda P.
Honestly, 179 comments? Wow, I'm totally jealous. And I add to them.

My daughter got a Pat the Bunny plush before she was born and it became her favorite. She called it Pat, naturally. Over the years we found other Pats and adopted them - they were all a little different: Tiny Pat, Big Pat, Apple Pat (because it had a little apple attached to its hand for some unknown reason). But Regular Pat (the original) was the favorite and so, of course, it was the one that went AWOL at the airport. We also harassed professional people daily regarding the whereabouts of our stuffed animal, to no avail. Then we tried eBay, where we asked grown-ups who clearly had no children how tall the rabbit was, if it had a fat tummy, and if its ears crinkled. Finally found a new one just like Regular Pat; her name is Daphne. My daughter is far more stoic than your boy, so we didn't get heartfelt songs and epic poems (you lucky). Blessings to you all, and Minty II.
July 22, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterstephanie
This was gorgeous.
July 26, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer
update on puppy, who's been missing since sunday. turns out i was wrong, hudson is more upset by puppy's disappearance. even though i hauled out the back-up puppy last night, hud's not going for it. he had the same response as henry to minty bear II: too fat, too fluffy, the color's not right. he grudgingly slept with the new puppy, but he kept waking up and saying he couldn't sleep because puppy wasn't there. oh dear!
July 26, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterclaudia
I can't not comment ... beautiful post. The reason for delurking? My son was attached to the VERY same exact bear for his first 3 years, unglamorously named green bear. I hesitantly bought as second 'version' online when I realized how prized the first had become. Drooled on, peed on, yes, stained and very occasionally washed. #2 was introduced before the demise of #1 ... just in case. Alas #1 was left in the jungles of Ecuador and I cried more than he did (he was 2) when I realized what I'd forgotten. #2 was left at a rest area in NJ by my dear husband, and that only added to my list of reasons to not like the state, no offence whatsoever to your choice to reside there, more power to you! Thanks for a great post, and a shared regret. Ahhhh for the soft shreds of minty green bears wherever they are laid to rest!
July 28, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterbethany
Oh that is such a wonderful story. I love that Henry recites on the spot poetry, as well.I too think you're an amazing Mum.
July 31, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterLéonie
Hi there,

I came by to see your perfect post and it is well deserved.

My daughter has Kitty Kat (who is really Marie from the Aristocats). I bought her at Disney when I was in Orlando at a conference and my daughter glued herself to het from day 1. Since Disney has not released the Aristocats recently Kitty Kat's cannot be found just anywhere. And I was always paranoid we would lose her.

I had a friend going to Disney on a family vacation and I showed her Kitty Kat, explained which shop I bought her in and gave her some money hoping she could get me a "back up."

She was successful in her quest, the only problem was my darling daughter caught a peek of Kitty Kat II before I could stash her away. Now we have "New Kitty Kat" and "Old Kitty Kat" and daughter HAS to have both with her in bed at night. My plan to avoid a problem just doubled it. However if Henry becomes as attached to Minty II as daughter did to Kitty Kat II, hopefully the pain of losing the original Minty will fade over time.

PS He's really precious!
August 1, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJenifer
This is the sweetest post ever. I have tears in my eyes, Henry is such a wonderful little boy. Minty II is very lucky, indeed.
August 1, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterLissa
Oh my god. It's not the pms making me cry, that was so real and so sweet. How on earth you pulled that story together, I just don't know but I'm very envious. Beautifully put.
August 1, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterbinkytown
i hardly think you need another comment after all this...but i wanted to say thank-you. i don't have any kids--just 3 nieces and a nephew--but i will never forget this story. it'snot just beautiful...it's helpful. seriously...thanks.
August 1, 2007 | Unregistered Commentertiffany
I am living this situation right now. My grandmother, who has since passed away, knitted my son a blanket. He loves "Go Blankey Go" and slept with him every night of his four years on Earth. He does this thing where he fits his fingers through the holes. We left Go Blankey Go in a Mexican hotel.

So far the hotel has not answered my emails, but we are driving by the hotel this coming Sunday. Wish us luck!!
August 2, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterbitsy parker
I have lived in absolute fear that we would lose one of the "lovey" animals that my three kids adore - a red dog named "Luni", a sheet named "Bobby", and a bear named "Tubby Bear". One friend of ours actually bought 3 more stuffed dogs when it became obvious which animal was getting the love. She switched them off so they would each get the same about of pee/love/drool so they wouldn't remain, what did he say, too fat.

I found you through the Perfect Post and you indeed deserved it.
August 2, 2007 | Unregistered Commentersoccer mom in denial
I'm speechless.This really was perfect.
August 2, 2007 | Unregistered Commentermoosh in indy.
Please, please submit this post to a large-print children´s magazine. It is just wonderful, full of meaning. I haven´t read a story this good about children for ages. (Maybe this is in the same line as the stories published on "Mothers who think", but yours is better!!). I am glad I could read your post!
August 3, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterLuciana
I bought a replacement Red Bard for Little A.'s third birthday in case we ever lost him and a few weeks later while house hunting 7 hours away, we did. My husband and I were the most sad. Red Bard went everywhere. His silken fur beautifully matted with love and lint, the new Red Bard could not deceive Little A. She loved New Red Bard but still mourned Old Red Bard. Where did he go? My husband bought a puzzle and a card and gave it to Little A. from Red Bard, telling her that he was on a special mission for God and would write her. We thought she forgot about it until a year later, she said "I miss Red Bard."

BREAK. MY. HEART. Millions of pieces.
August 3, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterPinkPowerSuit
Now I'm crying! Sooooooo sweet!
August 6, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterStarshine
Ok, you got off easy. My 10-year-old is still so totally attached to "Moondog" (who used to be white and smells so rank that only a boy could love him and I don't care if that's sexist) that I'm not exaggerating when I tell you that his future wife better like sleeping with a stuffed animal. I can't imagine the nightmare, the months and years of sleepless nights, if Moondog is ever lost or completely disintegrates out of love.Good luck with Minty II! And good job with the new Minty fable!
August 8, 2007 | Unregistered Commenteredj
perhaps the most wonderful blog entry i have ever read... ever.

i had a Minty Bear, although he was a dog named "Smoochie" who was white when he became mine and gray by the time he left me... also at a hotel. i was convinced the maid had stole him for her daughter.

i was twelve and i cried for days.
August 18, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterliz
That was the sweetest and saddest...and yet happiest story ever! I am very glad you found Henry a new special friend. RIP Minty Bear I
August 18, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterTammy

Alice, this is a phenomenal story. Thank you so much!

January 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMalkah

Amazing! This blog looks well-founded like my prehistoric a certain! It's on a right down to the ground other topic but it has pretty much the same layout and design. Classic select of colors!

June 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHP Pavilion

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