I just drove 200 miles for a stuffed cow.
My son Michael received Cow as a present when he was five months in utero, so he’s had him for awhile now. He goes to bed with Cow every night, and he’s pretty attached. He never plays with Cow during the day, but where Michael sleeps, Cow sleeps.
I recently took my kids camping because I am campaigning for the Mother of the Year award, and also because I’m not very bright about practical matters and I suspect I have masochistic tendencies. We rented a cabin in Ft. Stevens State Park, a few miles south of Astoria, Oregon, about 90 miles from home. Cow came along with us, because Cow comes everywhere with us. We walked on the beach, we cooked over a campfire, I only lost my kid in the woods once, fun was had by all.
The next morning we packed up, checked out of the cabin, had a nice long hike on the beach, I only had to pull my kid out of a waist-high stagnant bog once, and fun was again had by all. Quiet, relaxed and happy, we made the 90 minute drive home where I fed dinner to my two worn out children and put them to bed. I’m tucking them in when Michael looks at me and mutters, “Want Cow.”
I look around, don’t see Cow. Check the bags, no Cow. Dump everything out of the car, still no Cow. I tell Michael to go to bed and I will find Cow while he is sleeping. (I can sometimes get away with this if my children are in incredibly good moods, and because I had just spent the last two days making his camping dreams come true, he lets it slide and goes to sleep.) I rip apart all the gear, but it’s painfully obvious Cow didn’t make the return trip with us, and with the sort of clarity I imagine people must have right before they die, I know with absolute certainty that cow is back in Cabin 12, wedged between the sofa and the wall.
Oh well, Michael went to sleep and there’s nothing I can do about it tonight, right? I will just call the housekeeping staff in the morning and ask them to ship it to me. It’s not that big a deal, right? Right? With that final self-delusion firmly planted in my brain, I go to bed.
You probably figured out which direction this story’s going in by now.
I’m jolted awake by screams and crashes. It’s 1:45 AM, every light in the house is turned on, Michael is sobbing, racing from room to room screaming, “COW! WANT COW!” Guess he woke up.
Have I mentioned crap?
I grab my pillow and take Michael back to his room, trying to calm him down. He’s weeping, “I want Cooooowww,” and it’s the most pathetic thing I’ve ever heard. He cries on and off all night, mostly every time I’m about to doze off and get ten actual minutes of sleep. The whole “ask them to ship it to me” plan flew right out the window at around 4AM and I was resolved: I would solve this cow conundrum or die trying!
Morning finally rolls around and I shove Michael on the bus to school because Dear God I need him to go to school. I’m on the phone with Ft. Stevens the second they open, begging them to search for Cow, terrified about what I will do if they can’t locate him. Praise the Lord, Cow is found!
Operation Phase Two: Cow Retrieval is underway. I have to pull both children from class early to guarantee I make it back to the coast before they close the office. When Eric wants to know why he has to leave school after lunch I tell him we need to drive back to the beach because we forgot Michael’s cow. Eric owns a fetid, stinky blue rag named Kiki that we will one day pry out of his cold dead hands, but he has no empathy for his brother’s plight, and he informs me, “No, that does not sound fun for me, I’m not going.” I had to bribe him with dinner and a carousel ride in Seaside to make it “fun for him” so now we are tacking an additional two hours and fifty bucks onto the longest and most miserable day I can remember.
By the time we hit Hwy 101 Michael is screaming for his cow (and a hamburger), Eric is screaming for Michael to shut up about his cow (and that he also wants a hamburger), and I have to pee so badly I don’t really give a damn if they rip each other’s heads off. I better win that freakin’ Mother of the Year award after all of this.
Those of you riddled with anxiety because this post is triggering your own parental PTSD can breathe easy, we finally made it to Ft. Stevens, and Boy and Cow were reunited at last, Michael was happy for five whole minutes before he started demanding something else, and we all lived to fight another day.
But now I’m terrified. I don’t want to leave my house ever again. I’m scared to go visit family, I’m scared to take a vacation. What if we lose Cow again? What if we can’t get him back so easily next time? I feel like I’m a hostage, or I’m sitting on a time bomb, or I’m trapped in an episode of 24 but Keifer Sutherland can’t get to me because of the LA traffic. My security and peace of mind rests in the hands of a forgetful little boy and an easily misplaced out-of-production stuffed animal. It’s just a matter of time…
The only way I will ever truly be free is to have a back-up plan: I need a contingency Cow!
This dependency on the sacred toys isn’t right. How many other parents are scared to leave the house for fear of losing the one toy that can never be replaced? How many other moms have lost sleep because some precious rag or treasured piece of plastic was lost forever?
We need an Irreplaceable Toy Database! A spot where parents can track down those hard to find toys so they always have a backup. Yes, I know that place already exists and it’s called EBAY, but not everything is available on EBAY, and I hate to see a desperate parent gouged by a toy collector, so we really need a better way to help each other out. If you have an urgent need of a back up toy and can’t find it anywhere else, feel free to post in the comments and maybe somebody can help you out.
It’s my blog, so I’ll go first: Cow’s made by Gund and his official name was ”Milkshake” and it’s a flat blanket mat sort of thing, not the 12” plush. We got it at Babystyle about 10 years ago, and they’re no longer in business. If you or someone you know has a cow they no longer need and would be willing to pass along, you might just save a life…probably mine.
Please help me, Internet, you’re my only hope.