real life

When your kid's favourite toy goes AWOL.

Your child loses their best friend. And it’s on you.

It was a parenting moment I’d been dreading and one I thought we’d managed to avoid. The toy, the one particular toy my son had become fiercely attached to had gone missing. Vanished. Out of all of the stuffed animals, teddy bears and assorted blankets he’d been bought or given, it was a nondescript, fluffy rabbit known as “Bunny” (I know, how meta) that had become The Chosen One.

Bunny, loyal companion that she was (I’m sad even writing that in the past tense) had been everywhere with my son and, as you can imagine, played a starring role in his bedtime routine.

He kind of looked a little something like this.

Last week, just before bed, my son appeared at the top of the stairs, his face full of confusion. "Mummy, where's Bunny?" He asked, his lip wobbling. "I think I've lost-ed it." We searched under the bed, in his toy boxes, under the sofa. Nothing. Bunny had gone AWOL. She was, indeed lost-ed.

"But I can't sleep without Bunny," my son told me, completely matter of fact. "Oh lord," my husband whispered as he continued the search. "He may never sleep again." Of course, Bunny went missing the night our washing machine (after ten years of good service) decided it was time to retire, in spectacular, mid-cycle fashion. With water gushing everywhere, mop in hand and grabbing every towel in the house, my husband and I got to work as our living room flooded.

"Bunny! Bunny! I want Buuuunnny." My son, wailed continuously. “Sorry buddy, mummy's a little busy right now," I said to him as I skated across the floor on a sodden towel. "I'll help you find him in a second. I promise.” It's hard to describe the look on his little, tear-streaked face but if I had to, I'd say it was a solid cross between pure disbelief and utter betrayal. "How could you leave me alone with these two crazy people, my fluffy friend?" It said. "How could you?!" Needless to say, Bunny didn’t turn up and oh boy did it take a while to get my distraught little one to sleep.

“Mummy,” my son said to me as I dropped him at preschool the next morning. “Can you please find Bunny for me today? I miss her. She’s my best friend.” Oh god. The pressure. The pressure! I ransacked the house. Turned it upside down. I managed to find $9 in loose change and a missing ballet flat squashed behind the bookcase. But no rabbit.

"I found everything except for the damn bunny."

Fortunately, I'd seen said rabbit in a nearby gift shop at Christmas time and had uttered the actual words to my husband: "Maybe we should buy a spare just in case?" Do you think I did though? No. Because Bunny was never supposed to go missing. She had one job. Anyway, I made it to the store and practically wept with relief when I saw that they had a single replica Bunny left.

"Oh my goodness, you have made my day!" I said to the bemused shop assistant. "Bunny. Son. Lost. Lots of tears," I rambled.  "Thank you! Just thank you!" If we hadn't been separated by a large counter I would have hugged her.

As I walked home, fresh (and extra fluffy) Bunny in hand, trying to decide whether I'd roll her around in the dirt a little or just tell my son I put her in the new washing machine (look how clean she is!!) I had a huge attack of the guilts. Somewhere out there, real, more threadbare Bunny who has seen things and has been around forever, is lying in a heap feeling sad and rejected.

Having watched Toy Story 3, 756 times over the last few years, all I could think about was that pink Lotso bear and how he was left behind at the playground by his owner Daisy, trekked all the way back home, only to find he'd been replaced.

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And he was so upset he went rogue and became MEAN.

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What if that happens to original Bunny? What if I’ve ruined her sweet, innocent, loyal little soul?

I remembered then, that Toy Story 3 is not reality TV and, because I've replaced her, Bunny will totally turn up somewhere obvious over the next few days. And then I'll have to explain to my son why there are two...

Parenting hey? It's the gift that just keeps on giving.

Has your child ever lost their favourite toy? What did you do?

Want more? Try:

"The agony and the ecstasy of your child's lost object."

"Heads up. These are the toys your kids will be begging for this year."