“And everywhere that Mary went, the lamb was sure to go.”
Peeper recently adopted Sheep as her go-to lovey, and while its fleece used to be white as snow, it has already acquired the dingy dishwater hue of a much-adored stuffed animal.
One day, out of nowhere, Peeper grabbed Sheep—a stuffed toy she’d never had much interest in—right before we went on a hike. Then, when I unloaded her and Finn, she wouldn’t let go. “Sheep come on hike,” she said, so I figured what the hell. Sheep has been Peeper’s Number One Partner ever since.
Sheep comes on our hikes. Sheep rides with Edie in the stroller when we go for morning walks. Sheep even accompanied us to IKEA—then to Mexico. Now that Peeper has formed an attachment to a lovey, many parents have cautioned me to buy a backup Sheep—or several. The toy was a gift from my college host family in Argentina, though, so we won’t be getting a just-in-case replacement anytime soon.
We already had a brush with disaster on that front. We had just finished a 45-minute walk and were a half-block from home when I looked down at Peeper in the stroller and realized both her hands were free. Panic gripped me. Where’s Sheep? Thank goodness it had abandoned ship at the corner, and we didn’t have to put out a missing person’s report or a Facebook plea to please please please bring home my toddler’s AWOL lovey.
Eric still remembers the loss he felt when Scoot, his mangy stuffed dog, was forgotten at his grandmother’s house. The separation, to hear him tell it, was nearly unbearable. Some time later, his grandma found Scoot and mailed him back—but only after the attachment had dissolved.
Yet Scoot won’t be soon forgotten. He now holds a place of honor in our house, as does my no-eyed, thoroughly patched childhood bear, Pooh.
Scoot and Pooh are proof that I don’t have to sweat the stains already accumulating on Sheep’s less-than-snow-white fleece. Peeper doesn’t care now, and when she grows up, the discolorations will just be evidence of a life well loved.
So Sheep continues to take a sit in the middle of a muddy trail mid-hike; I don’t mind. I’m sure there’s a good reason in Peeper’s imagination to put a white toy in a parking lot puddle. And if Sheep ends up covered in blueberry-banana squeezie on a car ride, it’s only fair: Peeper is soaked in it, too.
Sheep is part of the family now.