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Saturday, 14 September 2013

A eulogy for Monkey

Monkey has now been missing for 3 weeks and 2 days. Isla had taken him as always out in the morning and I'd dropped her at the childminder. They spent the day at her house, took a walk to the farm to collect some eggs and played at the local rec in the afternoon. They've searched their house, retraced their steps to the farm and we've left posters up at the park, but no one can find him.

I can't blame the childminder, I should have told her about his tendency to go missing and to pop him away after breakfast like the previous childminder used to. But I didn't mention it and now he's gone.

On her first night without him, Isla's little lip trembled as she quietly said, "I'm worried we might never find him" so I let her sleep in my bed. But we had been through this so many times before that I wasn't too worried as we always managed to retrieve him the next day. Like the time she left him at a petrol station over an hour away and there he was perched up on the counter among the special offer chocolate bars. Or when she came to view the house we now live in and left Monkey playing with the big monkey in the little boys bedroom. I always thought it was a good omen that Monkey had a sleepover before our offer had even been accepted, as if he'd chosen the right home for us.

But three weeks on and Isla's started to realise that Monkey might not be coming back. When she's tired she sobs, big huge tear-stained-cheek sobs, "I really want Monkey now". And it breaks my heart that I can't ease her feeling of loss. We do have another monkey but he's always been known as Bobo's brother and has been firmly rejected along with all other possible substitutes. A friend who's son lost his bed bear told him that all the lost toys go to help Father Christmas in his workshop in the North Pole. I liked this idea but when I told Isla she got very excited because this meant that she would see Monkey at Christmas when he came back to us as an elf. For those blog followers among you, you will know I only have myself and Alvin to blame for her unfailing logic.

The only way I could stop Isla crying this weekend was to reminisce about the good times we'd had with Monkey and the scrapes he got into. There was the time we left him on the train heading for Ashford International. The train was intercepted at the next stop and a train driver returning home to Tonbridge brought him back, stuffed in his inside pocket. Another time, he didn't Mind the Gap getting off the Tube and he fell onto the tracks. A chivalrous man with very long arms reached down and grabbed him before the next Tube appeared. He was always dropped on toilet floors as Isla went to the loo, and once even ended up in the loo, but being so inseparable meant that when I did manage to prise him away to be washed, we would have to sit in front of the washing machine watching him go round and round. Its strangely comforting to know that the night before he disappeared Isla gave him a wash in her bath as she helped him practice his backstroke, swimming him up and down the bathtub.

She came in the other day with a little bell she found in her bedroom and said, "do you remember, Monkey used to wear this around his neck? If he was still wearing it, we might have found him because we would have heard him." She said his favourite pastime was perching behind the handle on the hoover while I cleaned the house and being pushed around in baby's buggie. But most of all he loved having Isla's little hand wrapped tightly round his neck as she took him everywhere, from the pyramids of Egypt to EuroDisney, where once again we had to retrace our steps to find him safely tucked away behind the counter at McDonalds.

He is just a soft toy and while its understandable that a 4 year old would be upset, it is pathetic that I miss him too. I still automatically go to check we have him before we leave the house, or look for him as part of the bedtime routine. But what makes me sad is knowing how much I loved my Snoopy as a child and I still have him and gave him to Isla (who has no interest in him at all). And I would have liked her to be able to do the same with Monkey, who has been such a huge part of the toddler years. He could comfort her in a way no one else could, calm her down when she was overwhelmed with tiredness, or cheer her up after she'd taken a tumble. When she was feeling shy and worried at pre-school or parties, he was there for her.

So thank you Monkey for being Isla's first love. You are forever remembered.


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