THE BLOG

It's Not Your Game

06/03/2013 07:17 pm ET | Updated Aug 03, 2013
Shannon Sutherland

We never intended for either of our children to have a lovey, it just happened.

Our first child is furry, walks on all fours, and has a tail. His name is Freckles and he is a dog. When he was about six months old, we went to a friend's house -- a friend who has five kids. He had the time of his life playing with the kids and when it was time to go, the youngest boy gave him his teddy bear. I gave it back, saying we couldn't possibly take his lovey. The boy told him that all babies need a lovey and since he is now a big boy, he doesn't need his anymore and wanted to give it to our canine baby. How could we say no to an adorable gesture like that?

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Freckles instantly fell in love with the teddy bear and cuddled with it every night. When he was sick or went to the vet for shots, we brought the bear along for comfort. When our human daughter was born and we had less time to play with him, he wrestled with his teddy. Before long, the teddy had holes and his stuffing started falling out.

Then, one night, Freckles wrestled with his teddy so hard the head fell off and we knew it was time to put his lovey out to pasture. I felt equally guilty and ridiculous about the whole situation. Why was I crying over a dog's teddy bear?

I was convinced our dog would never be able to sleep again and was be scarred for life. Shockingly, Freckles was able to sleep that night and has been doing fine, despite the incident.

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When I was pregnant, I bought a bunny blanket and had our daughter's name sewn onto it. I gave it to her when she was born and was convinced she loved it even though she couldn't have cared less. I put it in her crib whenever she slept and gave it to her whenever she cried. Eventually, she learned to like this bunny and soon enough, that like turned to love.

At 1, she started demanding her bunny at bedtime and was unable to sleep without it. The bunny became disgusting and no matter how many times I washed it, I was never able to get the stains out. The worst part about this bunny is that much to the horror of her parents, our daughter insisted on sleeping with her bunny blanket tightly wrapped around her neck. We have tried taking it off when she is sleeping, only to find it back around her neck hours later.

Around her second birthday, we started contemplating putting our second child's lovey out to pasture as well, but something kept stopping us. We consulted many experts and friends, who all had their own opinions.

One couple talked about how they lost their child's lovey on a family vacation and never found it again. When they came up empty-handed after their search, they feared the worst; an eternity of sleepless nights coupled with a crying toddler. To their surprise, their son went to bed that night and didn't even ask for his lovey. While his parent's needed to talk to a grief counselor, he was over it.

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I decided that before my daughter's bunny was destroyed I would take it away so I could save it for her when she was older. This was the right thing to do. If I let her continue to wrap it around her neck everyday, it will surely fall apart, and then I will have to throw it away like I did with my dog's teddy. And obviously, my daughter will want to take her beaten up bunny along with her to college, when she gets married and when she became a mother. Obviously!

But I couldn't do it. Just the thought of taking her bunny away makes me teary-eyed.

Then, my baby niece was born and my daughter became obsessed with taking care of babies. She refused to sit in her stroller because she wanted to push her baby dolls in the stroller. She stopped fighting bedtime and told me to leave her room so she could put her babies to bed. If I lingered, she told me to be quiet. Why didn't I understand that how hard it was to get babies to sleep? Her godparents bought her a crib for her babies, which thrilled her. Finally, she could have her bed to herself while her babies slept soundly next to her!

Naturally, she put her bunny in the crib with her babies, because why would a big girl mommy need a dirty bunny? I was confident this was an accident and took the bunny out of the crib and tried to put it on her neck. She pushed me away, screamed no, and then pointed to the door telling me to "GO!" I tried to say something and she shhhhed me.

And that was that. Without any help from me, my daughter was over her lovey.

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As parent's, all we want is what's best for our kids. We never really know what we are doing and we are always looking for answers. The second you feel secure in your job, your kid changes, leaving you utterly confused. That's how people make millions upon millions of dollars writing books and trying to teach parents how to be parents. I've read almost every book and not one has told me what I should do, because there really there isn't any one thing that you can do. As my 2-year-old informed me, it's not my life, it's her life. It's her life to experience and succeed in and yes, sometimes even fail in.