As the mother of a two year old, I’ve accumulated a lot of toys.
When my daughter started favoring a certain toy I thought it was the most adorable thing.
Minnie Mouse was her world. When I heard her in her crib, crying for Minnie, instead of getting annoyed I smiled at how charming it was, and I happily went to reunite them.
Then things took a turn. We went on vacation and God help us if Minnie wasn’t with us every step of the way. We might be halfway across the resort but if it was discovered Minnie was left behind, it was pointless to continue any further; no one was going to have any fun until Minnie was tucked safely into my daughter’s tiny arms.
Minnie had a rough time at the beach. She returned home with a ripped bow, covered in dirt, and I had to sneak her into the washer and sew her bow on as fast as humanly possible.
Then suddenly, Minnie was no longer a part of the inner circle. Now it was Zoe from Sesame Street.
Zoe, much like Minnie, had to come everywhere with us. But it was fine. I could shove Zoe in my purse easily enough and take her with me for when my daughter realized she needed her.
I’d learned to start doing this when my daughter would decide not to bring her along and no sooner was she buckled into her car seat than the crying for Zoe would began. I knew better, so I was taking Zoe whether she wanted her at that moment or not. I thought that was the end of it. I thought I had it covered. Guess again.
We went to the Sesame Street Live show and my mother bought an adorable set of Sesame Street figures for my daughter to take home with her. Super cute right?
I thought so until I realized they opened up a whole new can of worms. These tiny little figures hide everywhere. In couches, under tables, stashed in drawers and somehow snuck into the dollhouse too. If my daughter is missing one, good luck getting her down for her nap until everyone is accounted for.
Her main focus is currently on Ernie and Bert… especially Bert; Skinny, yellow mini Bert who manages to wedge himself in the corner of the crib where no one can see him; Bert who the cat cannot seem to stop batting under the ottoman.
If Bert isn’t in bed, we aren’t sleeping. In a mad dash my husband and I check all the drawers, search through the toy baskets, pull the cushions off of the couches as our daughter yells for Bert. This is the case during naptime and at bedtime and no one may rest until the hunt proves successful.
The other day she brought Bert and Ernie to the small swimming pool in our complex. It’s a pool for babies, so she can walk around safely with me monitoring closely.
I tried to get her to leave her toys behind but she wouldn’t hear of it. I clumsily helped her down the stairs because she wouldn’t let the toys go to grab the railing. Once we reached the pool, she tossed them in. The pool, cloudy from the rain the night before, swallowed Bert and Ernie whole.
I bit my lip in horror, knowing nap time was going to be a no-go if I didn’t find them both. I was lucky to find Ernie immediately but Bert, always that Bert who was no bigger than my pinky finger, remained at large.
I stood in that freezing cold, cloudy water carefully feeling around with my feet for a good forty minutes before Bert mercifully poked the bottom of my foot and I was able to leave the pool with the hopes of a successful nap time in my future.
Currently there are about 15 little action characters that need to be in my daughter’s crib pre-bedtime. I know my personal time, scarce as it is, is going to be held hostage if all are not present.
I’d like to think that maybe I’m doing something wrong. Maybe I can find a way to teach my daughter to not throw a tantrum over a simple toy. Then I recall my childhood trip to Disney World.
My aunt and uncle were so kind to take my brother and me to Disney. Of course I had to bring my favorite toy, my stuffed lamb specially crocheted for me by my grandmother. I was young but I recall the tantrum I threw when I realized the cleaning ladies had accidentally taken my lamb away for good.
Now I understand how my poor aunt and uncle must have felt, trapped in the beautiful resort room with an irrational screaming kid who didn’t want to go anywhere or do anything because her toy was gone.
I supposed all parents are at one point or another held hostage by their child’s toy, whether it is naptime, trying to get to an appointment, or having a few minutes of rest before passing out at the end of a night. Perhaps someday I’ll learn to ignore the cries for characters or perhaps she will finally stop needing them for security, but for now I am doomed to continue to be held hostage by Minnie, Zoe, Bert, Ernie and any other new addition to our fuzzy, plastic toy family.
I guess it’s a rite of passage.
Marisa Svalstedt is a stay-at-home mom living in her hometown of Bethel, Connecticut with her husband and two-year-old daughter.