Monday, December 16, 2013

Pink Bunnies

Things change awfully quickly these days, and time flies by. Day after tomorrow, I will officially have a teenager. The tides have turned, and the majority of my daughter's time is spent in her room with her guitar and her books. Things could certainly be worse. But as she grows older, as we all do, it scares me. Soon she'll be out doing things and I won't necessarily know what those things are. She will get into cars. Then she will DRIVE a car. Then she'll graduate, and then she'll leave. It's all too fast for me and I'm at the mercy of time. My best friend and I were reminding each other of all our capers today, and it made my blood run cold. We met in 7th grade, which my kid is in now. What does the future hold for her? Hopefully not, by the grace of God, the same adventures that her mom and her Auntie Renee experienced. Perhaps He will be kind, or what goes around comes around, in which case I am in major trouble.

This may be the last Christmas our son believes in Santa. Does he still? I'm not even 100% sure he still does, but I notice his excitement when he changes the advent calendar, and love how excited he is for Christmas. This too, is finite. I remember when my babies were little, praying for a decent night's sleep, looking forward to them being out of diapers and able to feed themselves. Now I want to slow it down and I can't.

So I think about the Pink Bunnies.

When Madeline was very young, she had a lot of bad dreams. She even had a few night terrors, which were awful and scary. When she would awaken from these dreams, calling for me, I would go into her room and pray with her. In fact at the time, our nightly prayer included a ferocious, "and tell those monsters to STAY OUT OF MY ROOM!" One night, she was about three years old, she'd had a particularly bad dream and was crying. We'd prayed and cuddled, but she was still upset. She had collected quite the menagerie of stuffed animals by then, including a number of pink bunnies, both from her baby days and every single Easter. Being a mother, if nothing else, teaches you how to think on your feet. 

(A splendid example of thinking on one's feet came one night the tooth fairy didn't arrive, and we were awakened by a teary child holding a bag with a tooth still in it. I quickly explained from bed that the tooth fairy had probably been frightened away by the cats, as they like to chase flying things. Sure enough, the tooth fairy did arrive the following night, along with a note of apology, explaining that the cats thought she was a butterfly and they'd frightened her away. However, upon her return, she explained who she was to the cats and they allowed her to go about her business. PHEW!!!  She bought it...and her mother escaped fairly unscathed, save for that sinking feeling of FAILURE.) 

Back to the bunnies. While trying to comfort Maddie after her bad dream that night, I said to her, "Did you know that monsters are afraid of pink bunnies?" She looked at my skeptically, as she does, but I persisted. "They are absolutely TERRIFIED of them. No one really knows why, but it's a known fact. Monsters are very, very scared of pink bunnies. So let's pile them all up around you, and I'll bet they stay away!" 

It WORKED! I'm of course, not sure if this is a picture of that very night, it's probably not. But the idea stuck, and that's what's important.  Since that time, it's just something that is KNOWN in our home. If you're scared when you go to bed, bring a pink bunny. If you wake up after a bad dream, get your pink bunny. Lucky for us, we have many, many, many bunnies that fit the bill. And luckier still, the Power of the Bunny translated easily to our second child, as can be seen here:

To this day, with Maddie mere hours from becoming a teenager and Stephen closing in on 9 years old, they both still do this. They probably don't think I notice it, I know Maddie doesn't. But when we check on them before we go to bed, I notice the army of bunnies. Stephen is still pretty forthright about it, and when he has nightmares, I'll sometimes lie down with him for a bit. The last time I did this, probably a couple of months ago, he had an absolute death got the right arm, Pink Bunny got the left.

Maddie also still sleeps with the blanket I made for her when she was 9 months old. I am not a crafty person, or anywhere near an adept seamstress, but I was determined to make my child a blanket, so I did! It was flannel on one side, teddy bears of various colors with bows on their necks. The other side was lavender satin. The flannel is all but gone now, and the lavender was replaced with pink, and now cream satin on the other side. It's a tad worse for wear, but I keep trying to revive it. I'm hoping she will take it to college, even if it's in scraps. I hope that it will always comfort her, through bad days, bad dreams, bad breakups and bad grades.

We all need things like this to cling to, whether physically or mentally. It's the constant, the unshakable, the continual presence.  It doesn't even matter if you still have the item, the memory of it will be precious and nothing can replace them. 

The holidays can be an emotional time for a lot of folks, myself included. It's the time one thinks about the people who have moved on, and their absence becomes so PRESENT that sometimes it can be hard to shake off. Or should we shake it off?? In any case, the memories, the attachments, and the safety of childhood, if we were lucky enough to feel safe as children, are all golden. I will always remember Christmas Eve with my father and how relaxed and warm it felt. He always welcomed my friends, who would often stop by. I remember the year we attempted to make Cornish Game Hens, but the power went out and we attempted to finish them in a Dutch oven on the stove. It didn't work. I will always remember Christmas evening at my grandparents home, with the uncomfortable clothes and kid's tables and everyone having to "oooh" and "aahhh" at everyone's gifts. I remember my spunky, crabby great-grandmother sitting in her chair and watching everything unfold. I remember holidays at my friend's homes, who have lost parents of their own. It's all good, folks. 

Put up your pictures, bring out your grandmother's things, hug your babies, create traditions, and don't forget to rely on The Bunnies. They're always there.