“Where’s Teddy?” I asked Isabelle as she followed me into the library’s family bathroom.
Her eyes darted down to her arms. Teddy wasn’t there.
“I dunno,” she said.
Oh sh*t! Not again!
This tiny teddy bear — whose been so loved that its head is hanging on by threads — was lost again.
“Where did you leave her?” I asked Isabelle leading her out of the bathroom back to the stacks.
She shook her head.
For the love of G-d!
“Do you remember when you last had her? Was it by the toys? Was it when you were sitting with Yonatan over there? Was it at the checkout desk?”
“I don’t,” she paused, “remember.”
“What are you looking for?” asked a mom with a baby strapped to her chest.
“My daughter lost a small, tan teddy bear,” I replied.
She crouched down and helped us search the floor with her baby in the carrier. How kind is that?
We searched for a minute, but nature was calling.
“Mommy has to go to the bathroom, Isabelle. We’ll come back in a minute.”
As I led her away by the hand, she sniffled and started calling, “Teddy! Teddy! Where are you?”
“She’s not going to answer,” I snapped.
Isabelle’s lip quivered. I softened my demeanor. “I promise I will help you look for her as soon as I use the bathroom.”
Isabelle was weepy while I took care of things. “We’ll find her,” I reassured. But I wasn’t so sure. What if some kid had walked off with Teddy and placed her where we hadn’t been? What if some kid had taken Teddy home. What if Teddy was gone — and I mean seriously gone — and we had to go home without her. She’d been lost in the supermarket and at a Bat Mitzvah. We’d already lucked out twice with Teddy being returned. What if we didn’t get her back this time?
Once we were out of the bathroom, we enlisted one of the librarians to help us. I showed her a picture (one of the many) of Isabelle holding Teddy — who is like an appendage — so she’d know what to look for. Then we split up. We retraced our steps from the art area to the book stacks to the play space to the benches to the circulation desk.
And that is where, on the way to the circulation desk, we found Teddy. She was nestled into the corner of an orange chair just waiting to be discovered and loved again.
I dropped Isabelle’s hand and raced ahead — as if walking slowly would somehow diminish me finding the bear.
“Isabelle! Look who I found?”
I grabbed Teddy with my hand and pivoted around to Isabelle holding the bear out towards her.
“Little Teddy!” she shrieked. She rushed over and enveloped the bear in a hug, kissing her all over. “It’s okay Little Teddy. You’re all right. I’m here now.”
Shortly after their reunion, I laid down the law. “This is the third time Teddy has gotten REALLY lost, Isabelle. You can’t keep taking her inside of places with you.”
“But I love her,” Isabelle said.
“I know you do. But searching for her is taking years off of my life.”
Isabelle looked at me perplexed, but a few passers-by chuckled. They knew what I meant even if my four (and a half!) year-old didn’t. I changed my line of reasoning.
“You don’t want Teddy to get lost again and feel sad, right?”
“No,” Isabelle said.
“Well then, for her sake, you have to leave her at home or keep her in the car when we go places. We don’t want her to keep getting lost.”
“Okay,” Isabelle said. She kissed Little Teddy again.
And while she agreed — for now — with me, I have a feeling this is a conversation we’ll be having again soon.