Lisa is a native New Zealander who’s also called Australia home for a great deal of her adult life. Now settled in Virginia USA and married to a high flying corporate dude, Lisa is an an avid traveller, a travel writer and professional photographer (see her website HERE). She is also the mother of two young boys under three and shares a hilarious account of her child’s obsession with one very special soft toy! Lisa will regularly be writing for The Mum Network and sharing bits of her life and how different it is in the USA.
I’m not sure when it exactly happened, nor am I entirely sure how it happened. But….one day about 18 months ago, my husband and I woke up and realized our household cannot function in a normal, calm and relaxed fashion, we can’t be a “go to sleep happy” kind of family if we don’t have BAAA in our three year olds arms. BAAA is a sheep my mother-in-law bought as a present for him, from NZ (of course), when my son was born. He was given so many cuddly blankets and toys but it was this sheep with the long legs and arms, all white and fluffy and ever so soft that he kept going back to. We named him “Sheepy” but our son named him BAAA as soon as he could speak. I was thrilled he rejected the pacifier (dummy), because that meant I wouldn’t have to spend my life keeping track of and keeping clean a plastic dummy to keep him calm. I figured the self soothing he was doing by giving this sheep a cuddle, whilst sucking his thumb was making my life oh so easy (he’ll grow out of the thumb sucking I marveled)
What I have ended up with is so much worse. I have to keep this lousy lamb alive, safe from harms way and getting lost. Believe you me; I have nearly lost my mind. Actually, I probably have – as I now believe in the power of St Anthony (the Patron Saint of lost things according to my old Italian neighbour).
I have to come clean. I may not know when it happened, but I think I know why it happened. And I have no one to blame but myself. My husband and I are huge travelers; it is one of the (larger) reasons that keep us living in the US and not in our home country of New Zealand. (We prefer it to take five hours to get to Europe instead of 25). Before our eldest son was six months old he had been to Mexico, France, Ireland twice, several trips over America and had three frequent flyer memberships clocking up. I decided in my infinite wisdom our son needed a constant in his life, as we weren’t about to change the reality he would be waking up in a different cot in a different time zone on a frequent basis. When he took a shine to this sheep I took it upon myself to make sure BAAA was always at his side. It worked. We thought it was cute that BAAA was showing up in all our travel photos (like that ghastly gnome from Expedia) – our son asleep on the plane with dear wee BAAA in his clutches.
I didn’t think anything of it when I took my son and BAAA to Australia – 27 hours door to door, New York to Sydney. My son was 15 months at the time and the last two hours of the journey, all he could do was throw BAAA on the ground – we as grown ups often take our anger and frustrations out on the ones we love the most, so does my son with his best friend BAAA. As we were getting off the plane, a fellow passenger commented; “you wouldn’t have survived that flight without that sheep”. He was right. Since then, BAAA has been thrown up on during more trans Atlantic flights that I would care to recall, he has been left behind at Central Park, Hyde Park, Luna Park, Prospect Park and the Lincoln Memorial (during a snow storm I might add). Mum has had to rush back to endless cafes and restaurants to grab BAAA (I learnt very quickly “has visto mi BAAA?” when we were in Spain).
Only once, have I considered leaving BAAA literally on the side of the road. This last summer gone, eldest son was about to turn three and baby brother was two months. I was driving with the two of them (on my own) somewhere between Bally Bunion and Limerick in Ireland, on a four-lane highway. It was a typical Irish summers day – pouring with rain. Both boys were beyond tired. They were at that maniacal level of sleep deprivation where you know at any moment during these hysterics they will pass out mid scream. I was breathing deeply and holding onto that possibility when I suddenly realized my near three year old had worked out how to wind the window down and true to form when he is upset and tired, he threw BAAA out the window. In the rain. On the highway. I cursed that sheep with words I hope I never have to repeat as I maneuvered the car to side of the road, and then played dodgems with the onrushing traffic to retrieve the now grey, matty, feral sheep. Ran back to the car, to discover both boys asleep. Hallelujah.
The very recent drama of just a few weeks ago where we left BAAA at an Orchard in the rain, in a muddy paddock overnight, (both my husband and I made separate journeys – a fifty mile round trip to another State – to try and find him) was traumatizing to say the least. Our son kept a vigil by his bedroom window, knowing BAAA was somewhere out there in the rain and mud. He looked up at me and said “Mom, my heart hurts”. You see, through all these BAAA dramas I have been constant in telling him to look after his mates, because they will look after you. It makes him hold onto BAAA tighter when we have been out and about. It was our fault for not doing roll call that day, not our three year olds. In addition, the two back up sheep I bought during my last trip to New Zealand, just didn’t cut it that night. Milk BAAA and BAAA 2 were dramatically rejected: “You’ve got to be serious Mom”, he cried when I suggested he cuddle up to one of them.
No one got any sleep that night, so we have decided BAAA needs a GPS chip for Christmas. And there are new rules. BAAA stays at home in our son’s bed having a nap if we are local. If we are away, BAAA stays in the car with his seat belt on. Between the GPS and the paranoid attention we devote to this sheep, our son might survive childhood with his precious mate in tow. At least BAAA is distinctive; or put another way. so ferally loved that no-one could mistake him for a cast off.
Now we are left with the million-dollar question – do we encourage the baby to have a comforter (he has taken a real shine to Milk BAAA) or is it not up to us? Does the child dictate, or can you stop it before it even starts?
Have you been held hostage by a toy your child can’t live without? Share with us by commenting below!