Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Just a Stuffed Rabbit

All kids have that favorite object they carry around and sleep with, whether it's a doll, a blankie, or a little toy car.  My oldest daughter, Ariel, (now age 25), had a series of "dolls" that she was feverishly attached to at certain points during her toddler-hood. I vividly remember "Baby," a sweet little stuffed pillow-doll, which she carried til it fell apart.  We tried to substitute a "Baby" replacement, but it didn't catch on, and she quickly became attached to "Tissie," an unfortunately ugly plastic baby-doll that I saw last summer in her Florida apartment.

Lacey and "Striped Pillow"

My middle daughter, Lacey, was given a little travel sized pillow by my grandmother when she was about 2 1/2  years old.  It was aptly named "Pillow" (inexplicably shortened to "Pinot" at some point).  I'm not sure where "Pinot" is now, but I have no doubt that Lacey does.  The last time I saw it - which was only a year or so ago - it was reduced to scraps of the original that she was keeping inside another larger pillow case.  "Pinot" has been somewhat replaced, however, by "Christopher Blink" a bear that I just saw this past weekend tucked into Lacey's bed at Texas State University for their junior year.

So, after 2 kids, and their "attachment objects," I was relatively familiar with how it goes with these things.  But then came "Bramble," Zoe's magical stuffed rabbit.  

Bramble has been with us for 7 years, but last week we noticed that he was not tucked under Zoe's arm in her "first day of school" picture - like he naturally had been in the last 6 "first day" pictures from Kinder through 5th grade. This kind of makes me sad, but also somewhat relieved. 
Zoe and Bram: K-5th grades

This is the story of  Bramble:  He was born in a toy factory and shipped to New York City where he lived for an unknown period of time on the shelves with other toys.  When it was time for him to go, his mommy "wished" for him (his mommy being Zoe, my youngest, now 11).  I then visited New York City and "found" him in a store.  That store was Hallmark.  (Of all the places I would go when in New York City, Hallmark is not at the top of the list. But, apparently, Bramble called for me.) 

I came to be visiting New York City at this perfect, magical time to celebrate my 40th birthday and Ariel's 18th birthday.  We were enjoying a "girl's vacation" with my mom and sister --without the younger kids.  I had asked Zoe, who was 3 at the time, what she would like me to bring her back from New York and she said, famously and historically in our family lore: "a Beanie Bunny."

In the course of our sightseeing I found this really cute little soft baby doll - not a "beanie" per se, but it had that kind of stuffing that feels like little beans. I found it in FAO Schwartz.  I thought it was perfect.  That night on the phone, I told Zoe of my find.  She was appreciative, but dissatisfied.  "Thanks mommy," she said, "but I really need a beanie bunny." 

The next day was our last day in NYC and as many mothers before me would inexplicably understand, I just had to find the right souvenir to bring home.  For some reason, this led me to happen to walk by, and enter, a Hallmark store in NYC - and there Bramble sat on a shelf, waiting for me, perfectly - a beanie, and a bunny.  Of course I had no idea at the time that Bramble, Corduroy-like, was waiting for me.

I thought he was just a stuffed rabbit. 

That was in 2006. Bramble is what was known in those days as an over sized-beanie.  You probably remember the beanie baby craze.  My older 2 daughters went through a relatively short-lived craze phase for the beanies.  This may have been what led to 3 year old Zoe asking for a "beanie."

Or maybe it was Bramble, calling. 

I'm not sure when Bramble became more than a stuffed rabbit.  I mean, I know he was magical all along, but I don't know exactly when he revealed himself to us. It was more than likely in the car on the daycare commute that I first heard him speak.  But I remember without a doubt the day I knew how awful things would be if we lost him - because we lost him in 2008.

Zoe came home from a trip to Canyon Lake with her granddad and Bramble was no where to be found.  No one knew when he was last seen. Zoe was inconsolable. I called the condos at the lake to see if he was left behind, and all the places they had been.  I  didn't really have any faith that we'd find him but finally, at about 8:30 pm I hit pay dirt on the phone at Adobe Verde, a restaurant in Gruene.  This is how that phone call went:

Me:  "Um, hi, my daughter was in today for lunch and she may have left her little stuffed rabbit behind at the table."
Hostess:  "Where did they sit?"
Me:  "I'm not really sure, I think a table in the back in a corner, could you look? She really misses him and I'd really appreciate it if you could look."
Hostess (after being gone for quite some time): "Hello, you still there?  Yeah, it's here."
Me:  "Really?!  OMG - are you sure?  What does he look like?"
Hostess: "Well, he's the only stuffed rabbit I found on the floor under a table back in a corner."
Me: "I'm on my way.

When we got to the restaurant about 40 minutes later, before they would produce him the staff made me "identify" Bramble and asked if he would "come when I called him" or "answer to his name."  Fun stuff.

The Best Money I Ever Spent
About a month later Zoe left him in a department store and we rushed back about 30 minutes later and miraculously found him again under a clothes rack where he was, in Zoe's words, "patiently waiting for us to come and get him." I immediately drove to PetsMart and bought him a pet tag with my cell phone number on it.

Bramble's had many adventures over the course of Zoe's childhood.  He studied and became a teacher, got married and had kids, learned to drive and got a car.  Now he's semi-retired (at the age of 7), teaches part-time and has parties during the day while we are gone to work and school. He's crazy for the holidays like we are, and has an outfit for every one. He likes to go to Chili's for his birthday, and for Zoe to blow out his candles "with" him.  
Bramble loves Holiday, like we do
Bramble and Zoe learned many lessons together. Whenever Zoe was upset or didn't understand something difficult, Bramble would "talk" her though it.  And since Zoe is his mom, when he misbehaves, she has to deal with it.  So when he didn't want to go to bed at bedtime, said his first bad word, or didn't clean up his mess, Zoe has to talk to him about it and decide the consequences. Bramble's seen and done it all - gotten bad grades at school, been bullied at daycare, was discriminated against at work (being a "rabbit" as opposed to a "human"), and partied too late with his friends.  I try to help - but after all, I'm only the grandma.  ;p

Bramble no longer has beans.  They disappeared during one of the many operations done on him to repair damage (one time my parents' dogs ate his eyes  - the HORROR!).  He's also been through the washing machine at least 50 times, and Zoe and I steadfastly insist that he is not the "cesspool of germs" he's accused of being when he joins us at the table for family gatherings. 

So, it looks like, in his retirement, Bramble will probably be spending more time at home.  After all these years afraid to lose him, I'm ready for this.  In case we really ever did lose Bramble, we had collected a few "back-up Brambles" over the years, and clearly, as the picture below shows, unless we were going to be willing to run him over with the car and wash him a gazillion times, a "back-up was never gonna fly.
Bramble and "Back-Up Bramble"
You can explore Bramble's history and follow him on Facebook here.  


  1. Bramble says that he bets that Christopher Blink parties all day with Lacey's roommate's ferret.

  2. I love these stories of your children's 'lovies'! My kids each have a blankie that they have had since birth. I never expected them to be so attached to it but they are.

    1. It's amazing how attached they get and it's so sweet! :)

  3. How cute! My daughter is 5 1/2 and I always thought it was odd that she was never attached to anything, no blankie, no doll, nothing! Maybe that's why it was so easy to take the binky away at 6 months, haha. My 2 year old son loves to cuddle with multiple stuffed dog animals we have around but he hasn't grown attached to one in particular.

    1. Zoe was almost 4 when we got Bramble and it just clicked. Before that she didn't really have any special one thing. It's weird because my 2 older girls were less attached by the time they were 4 to their "special toys."

  4. What a lovely family story. And how great that you captured it here, forever! ;)

    My daughter received a stuffed Grinch when she was two and she slept with him and took him everywhere until she was seven. Now he sits in her room, tattered and (dare I say) happy with the memories of when he was her world.

  5. Thanks, Colleen! I love the Grinch too! :) The whole Bramble thing is crazy fun - yesterday he "called" Zoe on the phone while we were on the way to school to tell her that "sock puppet monkey was choking on a carrot" and could we tell him "how to do the Heimlich?" How she comes up with this stuff is beyond me. My kids are way more imaginative than I ever was.

  6. Oh I love this! Bramble's story is precious. Vivi's "pink bunny" only goes to MDO and is otherwise confined to the crib because I'm terrified we'll lose her. I know that its probably inevitable... but I will do all I can to prolong it! I LOVE the pet tag idea!

    1. We haven't lost Bramble since we got the pet tag - it's Murphy's law! :) Get one - it will give you piece of mind. :) :)