Oh poo, we’ve lost Pooh!

It was over a year ago now that he moved in with us. We weren’t expecting to take on a lodger, particularly not one naked from the waist down, slightly jaundiced and with a penchant for honey. But we soon warmed to him and it wasn’t long before he’d semi-permanently nestled his way under my daughter’s arm, and was sleeping in her bed. All, rent free.

It was Halle’s first birthday and Pooh Bear, a gift from my little sister, had been unwrapped and discarded along with all the other presents. But as friends and family exited the celebrations, one by one, Pooh remained. Halle picked him up, tucked him under her arm and, fast forward 17 months, and it’s where he still spends most of his time.

Halle loves PoohHe’s been everywhere with us from shopping trips to theme parks, family and friends’ homes to hotel rooms and Spanish villas, from Christmas fairs to meals out, beach trips to picnics. And he’s travelled by plane, car, taxi, bus, bike and pushchair. And if Halle isn’t carrying him around, her younger brother is having a quick hug before she notices, or Ralphie the dog is using him as a cushion on the sofa. He’s loved by all of us, one of the family. And while our yellow, furry lodger doesn’t pay rent, we’ve had our money’s worth out of him. He’s been puked on, weed on (no poo on Pooh, thankfully), dropped in mud and covered in paint and crayon. He’s spent a fair bit of time going round and round in the washing machine and he’s had a couple of stitches in his leg. I fear his ear has a hole in it and his bum area looks close to splitting. He’s also less yellow now, and more dirty.

Pooh + potty training = confusing
He appears in family photos, he sleeps in Halle’s bed, has breakfast, lunch and tea with us, waits patiently in front of the TV while Halle has her bath, and snuggles into her when she drinks her pre-bed milk. He’s there when she falls and hurts herself, when she’s ill or tired and grumpy. And he was always close by during potty training, which was confusing – does she need a poo or Pooh? Silly name for a bear.

In short, he’s always there. Until…

There was always going to be a time when Pooh went AWOL and, as Disney (damn them!) don’t make Pooh in that shape, size and style anymore, we knew we’d be in the poo eventually. Or should that be Pooh?

So when Halle and daddy returned from Socatots class without Pooh the other week, we actually didn’t notice until later in the day. Okay, so it was the same day I lost one-year-old Austin in a garden centre for a couple of minutes, but I think the former is much, much worse (kidding!).

Me and hubby felt close to tears – he just couldn’t remember where Pooh might have slipped Halle’s grasp. Socatots? Car Wash? Supermarket? Car Park? Hubby threw himself into the car and raced back to the sports pavilion, retracing steps, while I got on the phone to the Socatots staff and prepared to launch a social media campaign entitled ‘Shit, we’ve lost Pooh’. After an unbearable hour or so, although Halle was oblivious to missing Pooh, we discovered he’d been found! He’d been scooped up by the instructor at the end of Socatots class who’d popped him in the car and headed off for a Bank Holiday break until Tuesday. It was only Saturday. Nooooo.

Tears? Screams? Tantrums?
Luckily, we’re both creatives, hubby and I, so fed Halle our story… “Pooh’s gone on holiday with George from Socatots and he’ll be back on Tuesday.”

We handed her a bear she’d never played with, who’s sat patiently on her chest of drawers since before she was born, waiting for ‘his time’. “Halle, this is Pumpkin and he’d really like to sleep with you and look after you until Pooh gets back from holiday. Is that okay?” We waited for tears, screams, full blown toddler tantrums… but she scooped Pumpkin into her arms and gave him a big hug. Phew! Pumpkin fit into Pooh’s shoes (if he wore them) in an instant, and then guilt set in. Poor Pooh, he’s been replaced! How will she feel when he comes back? Will it be like Lotso the purple bear from Toy Story 3, shunned by his owner for a newer model only to turn into Evil Pooh, launching a hate campaign against all new toys? And was he lying in the back of George’s car, cold, lonely and with no one to snuggle up to?

Yes, it’s daft. But Pooh is one of the family and family stick together. Pumpkin did an excellent job of supporting Halle though Pooh’s minibreak with George and I only thought we may have gone too far when hubby suggested letting Halle do a Skype call with Pooh (I rolled my eyes and he got the message).

Tuesday came, and Halle and Pooh were reunited. She scooped him up, hugged him and carried on with her toddler ways. That night, Pumpkin and Pooh slept in Halle’s bed together, and she appeared the next morning with one under each arm. A few days later though, Pumpkin remains in Halle’s bed, making only an occasional appearance, and it’s Pooh who’s returned to the top slot. He’s back. And he’s here to stay. But her warmth towards Pumpkin during what could have been a very long weekend is reassuring if/when Pooh should go missing again. Or when he falls apart!

PS There’s a nice bit of research from The Open University here about why children form such strong attachments to some of their toys.

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