Today my middle daughter turns 4! There are so many thoughts running through my head. Thoughts about how fast she's growing up, how I love the joy in her sweet spirit, how excited I am for the birthday party this afternoon (and also how terrified I am that some little princess is going to stain my basement carpet with purple cake frosting). But there's something else I'm thinking about today and that's what we do about Mimi, my daughter's stuffed lamb. Now, I know most kids have a special blanket or lovey that they sleep with while watching TV. But my daughter's relationship with Mimi the lamb goes way beyond that, to the point where I sometimes think that Mimi is an actual member of our family. At least, we all treat her that way. Mimi asks questions and gets thoughtful answers, she sits with us at the dinner table, she gets dressed up in fancy attire for parties, and we never EVER EVER leave home without her.
I have no one to blame for this situation but myself. When this daughter was young she asked for nothing. Like nothing! The one thing this child asked for was her lamb, Mimi. So I started saying yes. Yes, Mimi could come out to dinner. Yes, Mimi could have some ice cream. Yes, Mimi could sit in her lap at the Nutcracker ballet. And it was such a sight, to see my little blond toddler walking down the street with Mimi the lamb gripped tight in her hand. The girl literally stopped traffic . But now that girl is four. She goes to preschool, she just played the footstool in a local performance of Beauty and The Beast, and she can finally get herself dressed. Is it time to start leaving Mimi behind? Because I really don't think I have it in me.
I think this relationship between my daughter and Mimi is one reason the picture book Knuffle Bunny is one of my all time favorite children's picture books. Another reason is that I love anything by Mo Williams. Like anything. The guy's awesome (and in my imagination he is very hip and cool and would love to have a beer with me, probably somewhere in Brooklyn). Anyway, Knuffle Bunny tells the story of a girl named Trixie who leaves her beloved bunny at the laundromat. Never fear, the bunny is rescued and the escapade even inspires Trixie's first word. The book is the perfect length for little ones and Williams throws some nice winks to the parents as well - was anyone surprised that it was the father who left the bunny behind and the mother who realized it was missing at first glance? Not I. I treasure this book and though our copy is well-loved, it's staying with me forever. Just like Mimi.
Here's a picture of Mimi. She's sitting next to a brand new Mimi that I keep tucked away in a drawer in case of emergency. But the new Mimi is going to need years and years of love to pass for the real deal.