Bear vs. Cow
March 13, 2011

When I decided I wanted a baby, I expected a lot of things. I expected the dirty diapers, the sleepless nights, the finding of food in places I never expected. I never thought I would find myself debating the pros and cons of stuffed animals on a Sunday night.

This week has been hell on earth. We finally gave in and realized I couldn't write the book -- wait, did I tell you all I was writing a book? I am. It's about picky eating and it's where I've been for the past 8 months. This awesome imprint of Penguin called Perigee is publishing it, god willing, in 2012. Anyway, ever since Bug became a toddler and a vessel of excruciating energy, it's been impossible -- not almost impossible, not nearly impossible, and not practically impossible, but actually impossible -- to write during his waking hours or during his one nap that we're now down to. Working at night is almost as bad, because I'm so worn out from the day that even drooling takes effort. So, last week, we started day care. And the transition been so hard that I'm not even going to begin to describe it because no matter what I say, I'll end up lowballing it, which will just add to my already supremely bad mood this Sunday night.

Basically, it's a whole lot of crap that amounts to lots of crying, not enough sleeping or eating, and too much wine at night on behalf of the entire family. (Obviously, that last bit doesn't apply to Bug, but lately, even the cats have been like, "Oy, what a day -- I'm gonna need a bowl of Grenache, like now.")

One of the biggest issues we're having is that Bug is not napping at day care, which is kind of huge. It affects his naps and moods on the days he's not at daycare, and it's also messing with his night sleep every day of the week. The day care lady suggested I bring in one of the stuffed animals from his crib to make him feel more secure. And this is where the major debate begins.

Bug has four stuffed animals in his crib: a black and white cat hand puppet from my childhood, a knitted bug from Catherine, a heathered grey teddy bear Mathra and I picked up somewhere, and a soft, floppy cow we got when we bought a computer at the university book store. Cow and Teddy are his two favorites. He clutches them -- one in each arm -- every night and every nap. If we go to check on him in the middle of the night, he will be hugging one and have the other flopped across his eyes to block out the faint beams from the ItzBeen we use to light our way. When he video chats with the grandparents or meets new people at our house, he insists on introducing them to both Cow and Teddy.

Teddy is and has always been the clear favorite of the two. He asks for Teddy by name and will grab at him first. Okay, you might say, then it's clear you should send Teddy to daycare. Not so fast. What if we forget Teddy one day and he's left behind at daycare and we have to get through the night without him? In that case, you would argue, send Cow. Cow, while important, would not be as missed as Teddy if he's forgotten. This is true. Cow doesn't even seem to have his own name. Bug will ask for Teddy and then wordlessly reach out for Cow, too. And therein lies the problem: if you give him one, he wants the other one, too. In his mind, they aren't so much a pair as they are one half of the other.

Because of this, I can't see bringing one and not the other to daycare. If you suggest I bring both, I'll tell you that I'm worried we'll forget to bring them home and then we'll really be screwed that night. I could bring the cat puppet thing, but because it has no insides (where your hand is supposed to go), it's not as cuddle-able as the others.

This evening, as Mathra and I were repeating all rounds of the above debate over dinner, I said, "Maybe we can just go with the bug. He's used to it being in his crib, he has dragged it around with him at times, and even if it's not a favorite, it will be a familiar face at day care." "I don't think that's a good idea," Mathra said, taking a bite of fish. "He hurled the bug out of his crib during his nap today."

Excuse me, I'm getting another glass of wine.

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