The little girl has a new pair of favorite toys, a mouse and a monkey.
The little brown monkey is one of those beanie-baby types that I brought out from my stash of Toys People Have Passed On To Us. The little girl had been learning the names of animals, and as soon as she saw it, she recognized that it! was! a! Minkey! I remarked to my husband that I didn't know where she would have picked up a Belgian accent* (hoho!), but the Minkey was soon transformed into a Mon'ee. And that was when she really learned to make monkey noises.
*Maybe from my habit of announcing "A bimp! There's bimp in the rhoad." before we go over a bump in the road. (Inspector Clouseau)
The mouse arrived several weeks later. I spotted it amid the huge pile of stuffed toys at the thrift shop, and something about its garish aqua green color yet sweet fabric-lined ears spoke to me. I plucked it out and showed it to the little girl. What do you think of that? What is it? She lit up and made the sign for mouse, flicking her index finger back and forth across her nose. That's right, it's a mouse! By the time we got home, it had become Mes or Mees.
So now we have the wonder twins that go everywhere together. Mon'ee! she'll demand. And once she has it in hand, she'll say, Mees! or vice versa. My husband thought for the longest time that she was mispronouncing the name of whichever she already had, but no, she was asking for them by name. If she has one, she wants both of them.
Perhaps it's that they are weighted nicely so that they sit up well. Perhaps they are just the right size and heft for easy snuggling with toddler arms. Perhaps they both begin with M? I think it's as much that she knows what they are, and knows that she knows what they are, that make them so irresistible. Before the animals arrived, she could make noises or signs to name them, but once she attached verbal name to animal, she was enchanted.
So now before we start our bedtime nursing, she has to have first one, then the other as well, clasped adoringly in her arms, possibly wedged under her chin or squished into my stomach. It makes no matter how they get in her way. There may even be a hand or two left for a cup or block. She'll leave them behind when she falls asleep snuggling with her daddy, but at least we won't roll over onto any hard edges if they get lost in the bed.
My husband came in to the office this evening after bedtime holding one in each hand like a pair of juvenile delinquents he had found stirring up trouble. What do you want me to do with these? he wanted to know, quirking his eyebrows. I grinned and reached out to take them. They can sit by my computer 'til she asks for them tomorrow.
Mees! Mon'ee! She'll rejoice, and hug them to her like her best two friends.
Before Mees showed up, we once took Mon'ee hidden in the diaper bag to the last doctor's visit. It was my trump card distraction after the little girl's lower lip started poking out in distress. Not more poking and prodding! Scary people - aaahhhhh! She clutched that monkey to her neck with no hesitation. I think hugging a little friend helped her bear the scariness in a way that even the presence of Mommy could not.
She used to suck her thumb; now she clutches the monkey. I'm thinking it's not a bad idea to cultivate a few love-transference objects. We could all use a few snuggle friends.