It was a handmade gift from Grandma on the day Anna was born — a green and white crocheted blanket that we tucked over her on chilly stroller rides, brought in the car and, when she was old enough, snuggled into her crib. As soon as she could get words out, she started calling it “mee mee.” (I think she was saying “Give it to me!”). It was love. As soon as Anna touched it, she popped her thumb into her mouth and was instantly comforted. We didn’t take any chances and asked Grandma to make back-up mee mee for Anna’s first birthday. From then on, green mee mee and pink mee mee were our secret to a sound night’s sleep.
I wasn’t surprised when, on the day Avery joined our world, Grandma arrived at the hospital with a purple mee mee to bestow on her newest granddaughter. I’m not sure if it’s in the genes, but Avery formed the same affectionate relationship with her mee mee (thumb sucking and all). I got smart this time, and for Avery’s first birthday, asked Grandma to make a mini mee mee, a fraction the size of the first, just in time for Avery to take with her to her first daycare. Blue mee mee quickly replaced purple mee mee as Avery’s most precious possession.
My girls are still so attached to their blankets. It sounds terrible, but there are times when they’re upset or hurt and they actually want mee mee over mommy. We had to make a rule that all mee mees stay upstairs, or else I swear our kids would just lie around cuddling with them and sucking their thumbs! On the upside, their blankets have helped them (and us) with many transitions and travels over the years, and have put a quick end to myriad tantrums and tears.
Until yesterday. I still don’t know what happened. I picked Avery up from daycare. She plucked blue mee mee from its waiting spot and we were on our way. We picked Anna up from camp. We had to make a quick stop at Walmart and Avery wanted to bring the blanket in with her. Who knew it was ominous foreshadowing when I said, “You’ll be upset if it gets lost in the store.” Avery agreed, and tossed it back into the van. That’s the last clear visual I have of blue mee mee.
We got back into the van. I’m sure (but not quite sure?) I saw mee mee then. We drove home. We all carried bags and backpacks into the house. Anna went upstairs to play and Avery hung out in the kitchen with me as I made dinner. About an hour later, she mentioned mee mee. When she couldn’t immediately locate it, I didn’t worry, figuring it was somewhere in the mound of things that came in the door. We had dinner and moved on.
But then, we really couldn’t find mee mee. There have been times in the past that Avery has “lost” blue mee mee (because it is small) down the side of her bed or in her covers. A couple of times she put blue mee mee somewhere and forgot (in the linen closet or in her Dora suitcase to go on an adventure). But this situation seemed particularly odd because Avery had barely left my side the whole evening.
We checked the cupboards and under the couch cushions, the bathroom and the basement. We searched the van. We unloaded the backpacks. We scoured the living room. Avery was becoming increasingly upset, and the rest of us (even Anna got in on the search) more and more baffled. Where on earth was it?
Bedtime was a mess. Avery was almost hyperventilating, she was so upset. We managed to get her to cuddle up with second-rate purple mee mee, and let her sleep in our bed (because that makes everything better). “You’ll bring it to me when you find it, won’t you?” she sobbed. We promised we would.
And even though I didn’t think it was there, at 10:30 p.m. I found myself scouring the half-deserted Walmart parking lot for a small blue blanket. The woman at customer service shook her head sympathetically when I inquired about it. So I returned home and carefully transferred Avery to her own bed and went to sleep, relieved that she’d at least managed to get to sleep without it.
Until 4 a.m., when she came running into our room. “Where’s blue mee mee?” she wailed, and then plunged into a 30-minute kicking, screaming, hysterical sob-a-thon. Nothing would console her. Eventually, she fell back to sleep. I didn’t.
This morning, we managed to send her off to daycare with purple mee mee. There were sad eyes, but no tears. “It will be fun for purple mee mee to see your school, Avery!” I said with forced enthusiasm. She halfheartedly agreed.
More than anything, I’m perplexed about how the blanket seemed to disappear into thin air. I keep thinking we’ll come across it in some bizarre place and laugh and say, “Oh Avery, look where you put it this time.” But I have a feeling it may, somehow, be gone for good.
The practical (read: heartless) side of me wonders if this is a good opportunity to sever her dependence on blue mee mee, and hopefully her thumb-sucking habit along with it, because she only sucks her thumb when she’s cuddling with her blanket. More realistically, I think purple mee mee will just rise in the hierarchy, even if it’s not quite the same.
“I’d give anything to find blue mee mee for Avery,” Anna said to me in a rare display of sympathy for her sister. “But I hope wherever blue mee mee is, she’s safe and warm.” Me too.
Do your kids have lovies — and do you have backups?