On September 5th, 2008, a mere two days following Rigel's first day of preschool, panic set in at the Fox Den. Rigel's beloved pillow, (the innards of a Little Giraffe baby pillow minus the rejected lining), now a worn and torn satin lump of hand-stitched repairs and missing stuffing, was discovered on our lawn shredded to bits and pieces by our golden retriever puppy. Unbeknownst to Rigel and ever the protective mom (or shall I say over protective), I stealthy gathered all the remains and hid them from view, snuck them into our car and shuttled Rigel off to preschool. Next stop: the little tailor shop tucked between a nail salon and a Rice King. In not so clear English (reminding me of my late Japanese grandmother who also had a knack for sewing), the woman behind the counter explained she could not fix this for me, and instead I should buy replacement fabric and stuffing to construct a duplicate. Could that be possible? What about the corner seam he held so gingerly between his two fingers, the characteristic stains that survived every wash, the delicate texture of the worn, silky satin, and the lumpy stuffing that had long since lost its fluff? This was a possession which he had held, smelled and loved every day since he was approximately 6 months old. Could we possibly pull off a "switcheroo?"
Grandma to the rescue--by bedtime the same evening she arrived undercover with a replacement, identical in measurements, color, texture, etc... complete with the original pillow remains mixed in with the stuffing and pseudo-seams to match my poorly hand-stitched repairs. Daddy took the pillow out of the dryer ("wink, wink"), and took one foot into Rigel's bedroom to deliver the replacement when he was busted. "That's not my pillow. Where's my pillow?" Panic from both parties began to erupt as Rigel's fingers barely touched the new pillow and declared, "It's inside!!! Get it out!!! My pillow's inside!!!"
How the heck did he know? The whole operation was top secret, so either this boy was telepathic, or his bond to this pillow was deeper than we had imagined.
Left with no other alternative, I opened up a "pseudo-seam" and painfully revealed the remains of his pillow, which summoned the most heart-breaking, gut-wrenching cry I have ever heard from my son--mournful cries of loss. I cried. I tried to comfort him with consolations until Dan intervened. "Understand something, Jen. He's a guy. We don't like to drag things out. Let him cry, but let him move on." Within minutes Daddy had him laughing at cartoons in our bedroom, giving me a lesson on male emotion, as well as private time to continue crying--as my emotions were still reeling.
Rigel accepted the replacement pillow with reservation and only after it was tucked inside the formerly rejected Little Giraffe case. And, I don't see any signs of the trauma by which I was fearing he would be forever scarred. My mom told me that if there was one thing she fears she did wrong, it was protecting us too much from life. She believes she may have sheltered us a bit too much rather than letting us fall and pick ourselves back up again. Perhaps this was my first test in letting go (just a tiny bit--not too much).
P.S. Mom, you couldn't have done a better job--I hope I can be as good of a mom to your grandkids.