Good Things Come in Tiny Packages

For two years we tried to get Kostyn to accept some type of stuffed animal or blanket that would help him self-soothe at bedtime. He rejected all comers in favor of the only two things that ever worked -- his pacifier and mama’s (or daddy’s) hand. Until recently, every single naptime or bedtime ended similarly: After books and prayers, hugs and lullabies and cover tucking, Kostyn would utter his last words of the day: “Mama hand?” He wanted to hold my hand as he fell asleep. And, ya know, “awwww” and all that, but after two years* of crouching beside his bed with my arm tingling from falling asleep in its awkward position, two years of trying to pick the exact safe moment to slip my fingers out from his dead-asleep grasp ... I’d had enough with the damn “Mama hand” thing. We’d nixed the pacifier sometime around 21 months, but this whole “Mama/Dada hand” thing was totally, ya know, outta hand.

And then, about a month ago, Kostyn took a shine to a little stuffed bear he found at the bottom of his bin of stuffed animals. Its very important presence in Kostyn’s bedtime routine happened overnight. One day out of the blue, as he was settling down for his nap, he suddenly grew concerned and asked, “Where’s Little Tiny Tiny Bear?!”

I of course had no idea what the hell he was talking about ... until he scrambled down from his bed and ran into the other room, returning with what appeared to be a tuft of brown fur snuggled up against his shoulder and a big smile on his face. “Little Tiny Tiny Bear!” he exclaimed, climbing into bed.

Hallelujah! was the first thing I thought when I saw how much Kostyn seemed to like this little bear. But that, of course, quickly became a double-edged sword.

The problem with Little Tiny Tiny Bear is that it is (wait for it.....) so damn tiny. It’s tiny tiny. To give you an idea of just how tiny this bear is, consider its origin: It came stuffed in the pocket of some hand-me-down overalls Kostyn got when he was 1. So yeah, it’s small enough to fit inside a 12-month-old’s pocket. Tiny tiny, I tell ya. Kostyn couldn’t have picked a more suitable name (though he could have picked one that wasn't quite so redundant). My cat coughs up fur balls that are bigger than this thing.

And like anything small, it’s easy for Little Tiny Tiny Bear to get lost, particularly when it’s in the care of a toddler who likes to leave his toys in random places for his parents to find. So while it’s wonderful to hear Kostyn ask for this so-small-it’s-practically-unhuggable bear at naptime instead of my hand, it’s also stressful.

The words “Where’s Little Tiny Tiny Bear?” fill me with panic as I glance around at the few predictable spots where Little Tiny Tiny Bear often resides between bedtimes. Because if it’s not there, Lord only knows where the hell it is, and nothing short of a crime-sniffing dog can find it.

Not only is it extremely small, it’s also dark brown, which is the exact shade of the hardwood floors, the couch, the dining room table and chairs, and every dark shadow and corner of our home. Ever hear of something “disappearing into the woodwork”? That’s what Little Tiny Tiny Bear does.

More than once I’ve emailed or called Chris in the middle of the day, skipping all pleasantries to ask one pressing question: “Have you seen Little Tiny Tiny Bear?!?”
His response is usually something like, “Nah, man, we need to put an EPIRB on that thing.”

(And yes, I do feel -- and sound -- ridiculous saying the bear’s “given name” out loud. But it’s so fitting that even if I chose to describe the bear instead of embarrass myself by using its name, I’d still be saying the same thing. This is, of course, the genius of the Toddler Naming System.)

So Little Tiny Tiny Bear has taken a place of prominence in our lives, with a few notable side effects. First, it’s made me realize just how many pet fur-dustballs are rolling around under our furniture like tiny tumbleweeds; I’m forever mistaking one of them for Kostyn’s little furry friend.

But more importantly, it’s given me my hand back.

*When Evan was born Chris took over “bedtime hand” duties for Kostyn, as I was otherwise engaged in nursing a newborn to sleep.


Lyn said...

So cute! Maybe you can put one of those "key-finder" things on the bear? You know, where you clap and it beeps to let you know where it is? Althought...its sounds like there might not even be enough bear on tiny tiny bear to clip it to?!?!

T.J. said...

I Love the EPIRB reference. Quite a funny visual.

Maestra said...

You should post a picture of Tiny, Tiny Bear so that if any of us have or find a duplicate we can send it to you to keep in case of an "emergency". Of course then you'll have to institute a schedule of substitution so that each bear wears at the same rate and has the same smell and....