Repeat this action for many years and, combined with Aaron's propensity to throw around said monkey, he was, at last, a little worse for wear. However, I knew how much Aaron loved Monkey, so I made sure that he didn't see the light of day in the trash barrel.
Or so I thought.
We can't find Monkey anymore, who has, over time, taken on the name of Fried Chicken Monkey (I don't know why, that's just what his name is). I've looked everywhere I can think of, mostly at Aaron's request, but also because I feel for this well-loved, but lost, little beast.
The other day, Aaron came up to me, list in hand.
Aaron: Mom, did you look in Melina's closet?The list wasn't endless, although it could have been. For each time I said yes, Aaron put a check mark next to the place written on the paper and went to the next one. I could see the filmy layer of tears that coated his eyes. The child is only eight...things liked stuffed animals are a big deal.
Aaron: Behind the drier?
Aaron: In the boxes in the basement?
Aaron: In the bin that has the cardboard bricks?
Apparently, I didn't understand just how much of a big deal. Every night for the past couple of weeks, I hear a sniffle, then a cry, and sometimes, if I don't catch it right away, I find Aaron sobbing (sobbing!) in his bedroom, clutching whatever stuffed animal he has chosen to sleep with that night. We've discussed that Fried Chicken Monkey might very well have found himself in the donation bin, and if that is the case, then he is most likely nestled in with a little boy or girl who really could stand to have some extra love. This thought placates Aaron for a while, until he realizes that he just really misses his monkey.
What's a mom to do? I actually caved and found another monkey just like it online. He arrived and Aaron played with him for the day, but the allure of the original Fried Chicken Monkey isn't associated with this new stuffed animal. And I can't blame Aaron for not taking to his new friend. He's lost a buddy, an animal he made real so long ago. The thought brings tears to my own eyes.