Wednesday, October 2, 2013

My Other Child is a Monkey

My readers who know me personally know that I have two biological children as well as an adult stepdaughter. But I bet that none of you know that I also have one more child. His name is E.E., and he is a sock monkey.

My son never had a typical “lovey” like most kids have as babies. We had a collection of four dozen plain white washcloths that we referred to his “rags” that he used to cuddle with, chew on, and just generally comfort himself with. But having two dozen of them that were identical, there were always a bunch around in both cars and in every room of the house, any of them that got dirty or damaged could be thrown away and replaced, and if we lost one it was no big deal. So we didn’t really have to pay attention to or keep track of the rags. But my daughter has decided that her sock monkey, E.E., is her best friend and constant companion. And E.E. is in no way, shape, or form, replaceable.

One of the first things my daughter says when she gets up in the morning is, “Where’s E.E.?” despite the fact that he is lying in bed next to her. If she leaves a room and comes back, she asks, “Where’s E.E.?” as if he’d wandered off while she was gone. If she gets distracted by a toy and suddenly realizes he’s not next to her, she’ll exclaim, “Where’s E.E.?” in great alarm. When she’s overly tired, she’s even been known to sleepily inquire, “Where’s E.E.?” while she’s holding him IN HER HANDS. She shares her snacks with E.E., she tucks him carefully under the blanket with her at nap time, she pretends to change his diaper, she hugs and kisses him, she even holds conversations with him. We have weekly arguments over whether E.E. has to stay in the car during her gymnastics class or whether he will guard her sneakers in her cubby at the gym. If E.E. is not visible to her at all times, she panics.

And because of that, I have to supervise E.E. as if he were another child in the family. I need to be absolutely certain that I know E.E.’s whereabouts at all times. If we leave a particular area, like a playground or a restaurant, unless E.E. is holding someone’s hand, there is no hope he will follow us like most children would. He’s like an independent, self-focused child who pays no attention to the rest of the world. He neither notices nor cares that the family is leaving, and stubbornly and silently stands his ground. You would think that he would at least be easy to find since he stays wherever he is put, and yet his tendency to wander (with a bit of help from one pair of small hands or another) is notorious. I have to check on him every few moments so he doesn’t have a chance to get far without my knowledge. Since he doesn’t answer when I call him, it’s entirely up to me to figure out where he’s hiding.

So nose counts in my family these days include my son, my daughter, and my monkey. I feel just as responsible for his health and well-being as I do for my human children. And although he may not reward me with hugs and kisses, he also never talks back, never misbehaves, and is completely potty-trained. Which is more than I can say for my other children. So I think I’ll keep him. (But don’t worry, I’ll keep the rest of them, too. The hugs and kisses more than make up for everything else.)

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