Remember how I said Lana didn’t seem to care at all about when we put Jazz to sleep? Well, I may have been wrong about that. She seems to just be dealing with it differently than those of us who cried it out that day. Her coping mechanism was to become attached to something else altogether. A Christmas decoration, no less. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.
Years ago, CVS starting selling little stuffed animals from the animated Rudolph special that comes on CBS every year. It has always been my favorite Christmas special. My best friend, Melissa who also loves Rudolph, and I were so excited when they started selling those dolls. We bought as many of them as we could. At one point we lived together and had quite the menagerie at Christmas. I have all the main characters from Rudolph, with maybe the exception of Clarice, Rudolph’s girlfriend. I even have some Frosty the Snowman ones, which CVS also sold for a few years. I don't think they have them anymore, but I know you can find the toys on ebay sometimes.
Every year I put them out as part of our Christmas decorations. Before I had the girls and when they were just babies, the toys were there only to look at. However, once they got to an age of knowing what they were, I couldn't keep them away from playing with them. Good thing I'm not one of those crazy collectors who don't wan you to even breathe on their toys. I didn't care if the girls played with them. After all if you you've watched any of the Toy Story movies, those guys were dying to be played with. However, in the past, the girls have always been fine with them leaving when it was time to put the decorations away.
We put up most of Christmas decorations the weekend of Thanksgiving, before we put Jazzy to sleep. The girls were playing with Rudolph and friends throughout the week, but I would always put the toys back where they belonged every night. The next weekend was the sad one where Jazz left us. I didn’t realize it at that point, but Lana started to hang on to Rudolph a little more.
Soon he was going everywhere with us; the grocery store, gymnastics, Target, play dates, in the car before school, and Heaven forbid he wasn’t there waiting for her when she got out of school. (She had a huge tantrum when I forgot one day). Every time we left the house, she asked if she could take him. Most of the time he got to just come along for the ride. She slept with him and carried him all over the house. If there was a moment she couldn’t find him, she would break down into sobs. And I mean sobs. Usually when Lana can’t find something, she just gets, angry, whiny and ornery, but this was different. She cried like she lost her best friend and he was never coming back. My heart broke for her every time.
It all came to a head the week after Christmas. Andy and I were still in bed one morning and the girls were up and playing. Side note: can I just say how awesome it is to have more self sufficient kids who will entertain themselves on a weekend morning? Andy and I can BOTH sleep past 7am most weekends. Something for you parents of babies to look forward to one day. I swear you won’t be up at 6am forever. Anyway-we were still in bed one morning and she came in and said to me,
“Mommy? Can you call Rudolph and Clarice, so they can come visit me?”
Huh?? Wait, what was she saying? What was she talking about? I opened one eye and questioned her and she said it again,
“I want you to call Rudolph and Clarice so they can come here!”
Still half asleep, I couldn’t really figure out if she was playing a game or what, so I just said,
“Lana, let’s talk about this when I get up in a bit, okay?”
“FINE!” She said begrudgingly and stalked out the room.
Fast forward a few hours later. She came to me again insisting I call Rudolph. What she meant was she really wanted me to call Rudolph on the phone so he could come to our house and play. A Reindeer play date! Why not, right?
Ummmmm....Oookkkaayyy...except that, you know, he doesn’t really exist, so that might be kinda difficult to get him to our house. Well, I couldn’t very well tell her that so I tried,
“Lana, he can’t come here. He lives in the North Pole with Santa, and he only comes to our house once a year.”
“Call him though! Can’t you call him?” She questioned.
“Well, I.... don’t have his phone number,” I quickly said. “I can’t call him.”
Now she was getting frustrated, “OOOOOHHHH!! PLEEEEEAASSEE!!”
“Lana, I can’t. Rudolph doesn’t just go to anybody’s house at anytime. It doesn’t work that way,” I said.
She would not accept it, “But mommy! I want RUUUDDOOLLPPHH!!”
Then she started to cry. And again, not her normal whiny I want my own way cry, but the sobbing, “my heart has been ripped out” cry.
I sat there, hugging her while she cried for about twenty minutes saying over and over again, "Ruuuuddddoooolllppphhh!!! Ruuuudddooolllpphhh!!"
In that time I had to talk myself out of trying to find a place to rent a deer and somehow make it’s nose red. I had never really seen her this miserable. I mean, we all know the child gets upset and cries, but this was different. This was the same cry I comforted Sonya the day Jazz died. Lana just took a little longer to get there and seemed to have displaced her sadness into another situation.
After she finally calmed down, she was exhausted and decided to go to her bed where she napped for about two hours. Something she rarely does anymore. She seemed better when she woke up, clutching her Rudolph doll.
She never again asked if we could call Rudolph but continued to drag the stuffed animal everywhere. She kept questioning me about when we were going to put the decorations away and was Rudolph going to go too? When we did put all the decorations away last week, I just couldn’t bring myself to take it from her. He has become her companion and her best friend for the time being and let’s face it, it’s not hurting anyone. Well, it may hurt my sense of Christmas decorations being out past their time, and he is getting a bit worn, but it something I can handle, especially if it helps her get past losing her pet. I’m sure in a few months, she will find something else to become attached to, maybe even a new pet. Then I can retire Rudolph to the attic until December. Although by then he may look a bit more worn than the rest of the cast. Oh well, at least it's for a good reason.