There’s a shelf in Max’s room.
It’s about 18 inches from the ceiling, far from where he can reach, and it’s full of “important” things.
My Cabbage Patch Kid, Jamie’s panda… the stuffed monkey we got when I was 20 weeks pregnant, and Max’s special CarsLand Mickey ears from Disneyland.
I’ve memorized all of these things and their placement.
The Bambi from my trip to Disneyland when I was six.
The Giants World Series pennant, the little green monster I made, named “Naver” by a two-year old Max.
One recent evening, when I glanced up from yet another reading of Good Night, Good Night Construction Site, I noticed something different.
Max’s Blue Dog had been added to this shelf of special things.
Blue Dog was the first gift Max received from my mother-in-law when he was born. Blue Dog lay alongside him in his isolette, nearly the same size as he was.
Blue Dog slept alongside him in his crib, his Pack n Play, his toddler bed and his big boy bed.
My dad drove Blue Dog the 25 miles home from their house at 11 o’clock one night, because Max was inconsolable without his sleeping lovey.
Blue Dog is well loved, and it shows.
The ribbon tied around his neck is limp and grey and fraying at the edges, from Max sucking on it while he was teething.
But his tail is what was the final piece. Max sucked on Blue Dog’s tail in his sleep for about three years. Three years and it shows.
(It’s kind of gross.)
We noticed a hole wearing through the fabric, and pointed it out to Max: “You might want to try not sucking on his tail, or it might fall off. You don’t want Blue Dog to lose his tail, do you?”
And Max tried, he really did. Tried to break the habit. But as someone who sucked her thumb until she was 12 (don’t judge) my fear was that he would switch Blue Dog’s tail for a far worse habit.
So one night, Jamie got Max to agree to put Blue Dog up on the shelf to be safe. And now that’s where he lives, right next to the important plush toys of my and Jamie’s childhoods.
Another moment passed, another milestone, he no longer needs Blue Dog to fall asleep, my big boy.