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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Last Muttsy

For years, my youngest daughter, Laura, sucked her thumb. She was one of those babies who just naturally found her thumb as an infant and discovered the joys of sucking on it till it was raw, calloused, and sometimes infected. I tried replacing her thumb with a pacifier, but to no avail. She knew the difference, spit the pacifier out and promptly replaced it with her left thumb. Somewhere along the line she developed a habit to help her fall sleep. She'd pull her own hair out, a few strands at a time, roll it up into a ball, and then as she'd suck her thumb, she'd rub her nose with the hairball she'd made. Laura now had a deformed thumb, and a bunch of bald spots on her head. She was a real looker.

My husband owned a store, and had a stuffed animal section in his store. Almost every day he'd bring home a new stuffed animal for one or both girls, so their rooms looked like fanciful menageries with brightly colored animals wherever you looked. One of the animals, was a 3 foot long floppy dog, with a big head and long floppy ears, floppy tail, soft and cuddly and pink. It's name was Muttsy, and it became Laura's favorite. Laura and the Mutt were inseparable. Wherever you found one, you found the other, and heaven help you if they became separated. The Mutt flew on airplanes with us and took car trips with us, Laura carrying him (her?) around slung over her shoulder like a mother would carry a precious infant (if that infant were 3 feet long and had no skeleton).

I took the kids to Las Vegas to visit my parents who had semi-retired there. After seeing Laura, my mother decided that the way to deal with Laura and her hair was to cut it off and so that's what we did. And she was absolutely right. I returned home with Laura's hair-pulling problem solved, and new hope that she'd grow up a normal well-adjusted young woman, and maybe even get married and have a family of her own one day.

I wonder what was going on in Laura's 2 year old brain after her hair had been cut, when she reached up to her head and found she couldn't get a good handful? She never cried, she never whined, she never lost any sleep....but suddenly I began finding little pink and sometimes white fuzzballs all over the floor, and I didn't know what they were or where they were coming from. One day, I happened to spy Muttsy's underside as she carried him around in his accustomed place on her shoulder. The Mutt had a huge bald spot on his belly with a small hole in his fabric and I, genius that I am, was finally able to put two and two together and get three and a half. Laura was pulling Muttsy's fur and stuffing out in lieu of her own hair. I was impressed by her resourcefulness. I was impressed by the size of Muttsy's bald spot. Hell, I was just impressed!

To date, we're on Muttsy #3. Laura, now 15, no longer pulls his hair out or sucks her thumb, but she still sleeps with him over her pillow, right under her head, and stresses over whether or not she should take him along on family vacations. I've told her it's ok to take him in the car, but not on a plane. I can't imagine the grief if, packed in a suitcase, he somehow ended up on the wrong plane and didn't manage to make it to our destination and back. Because I've told Laura, this is definitely the last Mutt. And this time I mean it!


  • What a smart Laura you raised. She was so cute with her mutsy when she was little. Remember when we went on that trip to the beach? Pictures were taken and to this day, one of my faveorite pics of Laura, is the one of her laying on the bed with mutsy sucking her thumb. It was so cute and she looked so little.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:01 PM  

  • Hi Molly---Thanks for stopping by my oven, I've had the blog for some time, but just discovered the wonderful world of truly creative bloggers, by way of posting comments on Teri Franta's "Here's to Happy Women". Someone clicked on me and I've clicked on several others. I feel as though I am in hog heaven!
    I love this post about Laura and Muttsy. My children never had particular favorites among the animal kingdom, but my sister-in-law has a standard poodle who owns a pink bunny. "Jenny" (the dog) greets people at the front door with bunny in mouth. Now, she's cute, but I bet Laura is cuter! Tell her the thumb thing was okay---I sucked mine until I was ten.

    By Blogger Kacey, at 9:14 PM  

  • My now 16 year old son, had 3 PINK stuffed elephants that HAD to be at his side each and every moment. He was 2 years old, and his little arms couldnt even hold them all at the same time. He would sniff each one lovingly and then reach for the other one until all three had a sniff and a kiss. repeat this loving gesture, over and over, all day! GAWD forbid if they werent all three together, at the same time. Then one day, he gave them each a kiss and put them in his toy box, and that was that. Now when I think back on him doing that, I get teary eyed.

    By Anonymous Heather, at 5:19 AM  

  • My kids both had nummies (pacifiers), the older one had his until he was almost 5! He also has a white (well, not anymore) bear that my mom gave him called Nannybear (he calls my mom Nanny). Nannybear is quite a prize-she's kind of gray now, and really floppy but he still loves her. Alex (4) has a gingerbread man that he got from Nanny, from a scholastic book order special, and he has to sleep on top on Gingie, and likes to haul him around to the store, etc. It's pretty funny, because he is a pretty "tough guy" looking kid, and he has Gingie tucked in his elbow sometimes! Reminds me of the Velveteen Rabbit who had all of his fur "loved off".

    By Anonymous baseballmom, at 12:34 AM  

  • Thank you all for your comments. Funny, isn't it, the things they choose as their "security blankets?"

    By Blogger molly, at 6:29 AM  

  • love your writing, guess who this is!
    Didn't know my child could be so witty.
    I love your memory about the hair cut, she was so cute.
    All you mommy bloggers out there, Molly is my brillant, gorgeous and beautiful inside and out daughter.
    When we worked in the same hospital together all the girls in the OR thought she was a princess because she is so lovable.

    By Anonymous Cheryl, at 2:26 PM  

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