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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

Some Books
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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.

Lets-Panic.com → 

« 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)

me likes your blog.me reads it even when it is 1 o'clock in the morning and i is feeling very very very (fin?)sleepy.me likes henri too. hope he doesn't miss minty bear too much. hope he doesn't pee on the minty bear II too much either.

tip: if he asks if there is a teddy bear paradise, please pleeease say yes.(i think i asked a priest that question when i was young...i'm still in denial!)
July 11, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterconstantina
now I miss Minty! I am not pregnant, not thinking of getting pregnant, but must go get a minty now in prep.
July 11, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterTorrey
You did a good thing, mama.
July 12, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterAnita
For us it was Pig Fur and the replacement I found through the internets was soundly refused. I cried all over again when I read your post. Hope (my daughter) is over the incident and Blackberry is her new one true love but for me it will always be Pig Fur. Why, oh why, do hotel laundrys eat stuffed animals? Would it be so hard to have some sort of system to just keep them in one jumbled box of young love? I would have gladly driven the 5 hours back to Gatlinburg, TN to retrieve the filthy pig. I would have driven to Outer Mongolia....
July 12, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterSara
Awwww ... I am in awe (sic). The story has a happy ending. Good for you!

Just the telephone calls to the hotel would leave me lying down in a dimly-lit room with a cool cloth on my forehead. And a restorative glass of wine at my right hand.

How can you keep up with it all??? The verbal abilities, the imagination ... oh, wait a minute. That's right. He's your son. :D
July 12, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterPoppy
Oh for pete's sake, I'm crying. That happy ended snuck up on me. Awesome.
July 12, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterAlly
You are an amazing mom, you know that? When we lost my daughter's puppy, my response was so comparatively inadequate. This was beautiful, thanks for sharing it.
July 12, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterSue
Awww....very sweet.

It reminds me of this book, particularly the replacement ending.
July 12, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterhamiam
We have Baby who is a koala bear. When I saw peanut was becoming attached, I bought a second one. My husband told me how stupid it was and such a waste of money. Well one of the babies disappeared at the farmers market one day. He was more than happy to go with me the following Monday to get a new one.

I got a bit scared when there wasn't any babies to be found in the "Everything Australian" Store, but the owner ran into the back and pulled 3 babies out of a box that was delivered just that day. Evidently all the koala bears had been on back order for 6 weeks. IKES. It was funny to see peanuts eyes when he presented her with 3 koala's to choose from. She didn't know what to think.

thank you for this wonderful story.

July 12, 2007 | Unregistered Commentertallgirl
Oh CRAP. I have a videoconference in 10 minutes, and I'm CRYING. Minty Bear! How those words will haunt me (all day, I'm sure).
July 13, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterLori
Dude. Could you have wrapped me around your finger with that story any more? No. Beautiful tale, of a beautiful boy and his bear. Bravo.
July 13, 2007 | Unregistered Commentercoolmom
Oh my STARS I'm just bawling!!
July 13, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterEveryday Mommy
This is just so lovely; I'm all choked up. Each of my three kids have that very same bear, and my 5 year old, Eleanor, is very attached to hers. You are brilliant, just brilliant, for handling this the way you did. I loved the story. What a lucky child you have!
July 13, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterAlly
You have made me cry. What a beautiful, precious little boy you have. (And what a clever mommy!)
July 14, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterLisa C
Add me to the list of people whose hearts just blew up reading that story. Absolutely lovely. Thanks for sharing!
July 14, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterRachelskirts
Nicely handled. This might be the first time I've ever seen a tiny consoled by a substitute.

Also, now I miss every toy I've ever lost.
July 15, 2007 | Unregistered Commentergolfwidow
Aww. Why do you have to get me all worked up about Minty Bear? Mii-iinty! *sniff*
July 15, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterKate
my heart, it melts.

i am totally crying.
July 15, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJohnny Sapphire
Oh sad and beautiful story of Minty Bear.

My girly has Lambie, and we sneakily bought her Alternalamb for when Lambie is in the wash, but I think she's beginning to suspect.

Me, I had Hazel P. Bun-Bun (I named him after the rabbit in Watership Down when I was 8), a cheap little rabbit stuffed with ground nutshells. Hazel was the only comforting thing I was allowed to bring from my mother's house to my father's for the one month-long visit I had with him every year. I left him on a tree stump in Austria and he survived a week-long flood, losing only his pink felt nose and the brightness of his white fur. One day when I was talking to Hazel my father whirled around and spat at me, "Aren't you too old to play with dolls?" and I screamed back "I'm TEN! I'm SUPPOSED to play with dolls!" Hazel still lives in my nightstand.
July 15, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterBeth
I had a blanket growing up. Boy did I love that blanket! Once when I was about 5, we were on vacation in Florida, and we left it at a motel. I didn't discover it was gone until we'd driven about an hour or so. I was utterly inconsolable!! My dad drove us (my parents, my two older sisters and my brother) back to the motel, where it was discovered still tangled up in the blankets in the room we'd been in. They hadn't cleaned the room yet. I still have the remains of that blanket, though it lives in my underwear drawer now.
July 16, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa H.
a quick follow up:1. there is no alterna-kitty to be found on the web. found exact kitty on am*zon, but unavailable, ever, ever again. eb*y, zilch. ach!!2. my aunt suggested the smartest thing i've ever heard- write in black magic marker on the tag "if found, please return my kitty to (phone #)"3. my cousins wife and i decided that our niche could be to start a lovey-lowjack company. of course, now it won't be our secret, but, eh, whatever.
July 16, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterpnutsmama
Ohhh. Oohhh! I dont know what I would've done if I'd lost Drowsy, the goofy looking, sleepy-eyed dog with a ballcap. He fit perfectly into the crook of my arm when I slept. But he was so funny looking, I swear they must've broken the mould, or pattern, as it were.

Have you tried posting on Craigslist in Long Island? Under "Missed Connections" or, more obviously, the lost and found? Is there a chance he wasn't left in the hotel room?

Wonderful piece. Long Live Minty!
July 16, 2007 | Unregistered Commentergirl27
Thanks for expressing this so well, speaking as the parent of a child who lost her precious blankie on a trip.
July 17, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterBernard Farrell
Here I am, sitting in my cubicle, crying about Minty Bears I and II. What a great mom you are. Thanks for sharing this sweet story.

You and Henry both did a very, very good thing.

July 17, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterSlierk
What an amazing story. Henry's song and poem -- and then your wonderful save with the story about Minty Bear II. I'm 5 months pregnant and so will heed the advice about not buying stuffies just yet, unless one really really speaks to me (well, not really speaks -- that would be scary).

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