8 years ago, in the midst of a hysterical crying spell by Baby Evan, I desperately snatched a random stuffed animal from his bin beside the crib. I knew that babies weren't supposed to have fluffy toys or pillows in their beds, but honestly, this kid hadn't slept on his own for 8 straight months* and I was DESPERATE. When his chubby baby hands came into contact with the pristine and beautiful panda bear that his grandma had received for donating to the World Wildlife Foundation, the heavens opened up and the angels sang and that baby SLEPT.
And I wept.
And Pandy Bear was adopted into the hearts of our entire family.
Over the past 8 years, he has traveled across the country, even on a plane! Pandy has had gentle spa treatments in our washing machine after Evan's illnesses or after unplanned "adventures" to the backyard sandbox. Pandy has comforted Evan through childhood tears and accompanied him through all stages of imaginative play. He has a smell about him that may be disgusting to the untrained nose but to this Mom, I understand the comfort he still brings to the overactive imagination of a little boy in the middle of the night.
As time has passed, we have found friends for Pandy Bear. His family has grown and grown and Evan currently has 8 total panda bears to snuggle with. And while they definitely do find their way into his hands for a hug or a quick panda battle, it is always, ALWAYS dirty, ratty, holey, smelly and floppy Pandy Bear that is his true love.
This Christmas, Grandma donated to the WWF again and received the SAME Panda Bear as a donation gift. The SAME ONE! I couldn't believe it! But the evidence was there in front of me, right down to the make and model number on their tags.
I wistfully smiled when I realized how much love the original Pandy has received. If ever a toy were to come alive when a child outgrows him, it would be Pandy.
Justin claims that this is what 8 years of abuse by Evan will do to you. He is bald on his ears, neck and stomach. His neck is so thin that Evan can fit his hand around it. His body mass is SIGNIFICANTLY less than the new guy...
I claim that this is what 8 years of LOVE looks like. The newer model may be fluffy and WHITE and smell divine, but my faithful child has not replaced his first love...
...No matter HOW many times people have tried!
I hope that he can always retain this ability to remain true to the ones who have stuck with him.
* 8 years later and he's STILL in our bed! WITH PANDY.
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