Cowboy is back. Through gritted teeth, I rejoice.

I’m sitting outside.  7 p.m. Glorious weather.  It’s like 75 out here.  My kids asked to go to bed at 6 p.m.  No freaking kidding you.  When Abby finished dinner right at 6 she said, “Ready go bed.”  Then, she proceeded to lay her head down on her tray, close her eyes and say, “Night, night.”  Woah.  Sophia followed suit, though I’m pretty sure she’s in bed looking at books… Oh well.  I’m outside.  😉

I thought it’d be a good time to tell you a little story.  The story of the treasured animal who was lost… and then she was found.  Cowboy.  In case you hadn’t heard by being around us… or Facebook… Twitter… or the blog, Cowboy was lost.  A sad period of grief followed as we all dealt with the loss in different ways.  Sophia was immediately wonderful about it, but I think reality set in later when she “needed” her.  At seemingly random times she would just cry out for her.  A few times when she got in particularly bad trouble or felt particularly ashamed, she would call out for her in this grief-stricken voice.  Read–60 year-old Russian woman throwing her body of her dead husband’s coffin kind of grief.  This happened just days ago.  She would come and ask me if she could look at pictures of her and Cowboy.  She was pretty big about it all around, but it was hard on all of us.

Well, I got a call 3 weeks and 1 day after we lost her–Sunday night.  The Container Store at FlatIrons mall in Broomfield called with the news.  Apparently she was hidden in a container. Woah.  Step back.  This was out of nowhere.  My immediate impulse is, “Let’s take a roadtrip first thing in the morning.”

Now, if I had had this call 2 weeks ago, I know that I wouldn’t have jumped to that thought first thing.  My heart softened over the weeks as I really saw the grief and loss set in.  I also saw that Sophia can survive without her and that she has learned that toys, even our most beloved toys, can get lost.  2 weeks ago I would’ve said, “I think that this is for the best.  Cowboy is a crutch that makes her act like a baby.”  Sunday night, when I got the call, that thought didn’t even occur to me.

Well, Cowboy has been retrieved.  And, now I have mixed feelings.  Monday, all I wanted to do was celebrate.  But, as soon as we got Cowboy back, Sophia regressed.  She sucked her thumb and cuddled all day.  I had to coax her to do ANYTHING else.

Let me tell you the story of how Cowboy re-entered our lives:

We jumped into the car early Monday morning after breakfast and an assured surprise to come.  After an hour of driving and Sophia asking if we could turn around to get Piglet (who she left at home), we arrived at the mall.  I asked Sophia if she had any idea what her surprise might be.  She asked if it might be a “new Piglet.”  Curious.

We walked into The Container Store, and I whispered to the front desk about our situation: We lost a stuffed animal a few weeks ago, and I’d like to surprise my 3-year old upon the return.  This woman was ecstatic.  She was working when the animal was lost, and she told me about how the two who had closed that night had really scoured the place. They were all sad for us.  “We are all moms.  We understand.”

She left to go get the stuffed animal, and we waited.  We waited and we waited.  I interviewed Sophia.  She still didn’t understand that we were in the place where we left Cowboy… A few other sales people passed smiling really, really big.  Everyone was so excited.  About 5 minutes later, the saleswoman arrived with a wrapped package with a huge pink bow.  The saleswoman helped Sophia open it, and of course, Sophia was thrilled.  Eventually, the saleswoman teared up.  Sweet story.  I think I better go back to The Container Store and actually buy something!  They were wonderful.  (Video at the end if you really need to see it…)

We left straight away to go to the indoor playground.  Sophia sucked her thumb and held Cowboy the whole way.  When we got there, we removed shoes and got ready to play.  I turned around for just a minute and I lost Sophia.  I then found her in lying down in a tunnel cuddling with Cowboy and sucking her thumb.

Now, I should have understood: Sophia needs some time with Cowboy.  Time to reconnect.  Time for her to get over the surprise and enjoy her friend.  But, because of my fallenness, I wasn’t immediately gracious.  I was judgmental, a little miffed.  All I could see was my 3-year old turned baby.  I tried to just let it go.  I tried to coax her out of the tunnel to play with the other kids.  All the while I felt a pang of fear and anger rising in my chest.  What have I done?!  

Here is where I wish I could see like the Father sees:  Gracious.  Loving.  All knowing.  Instead, I fear.

She’s crawled up on a dinosaur and she’s sitting at the top sucking her thumb, holding Cowboy.  I go to her and I say as graciously as I can, “I will hold Cowboy for you.  I will keep her safe.  You will have her the rest of the day.  Let me have her now so that you can play.  You only have the playground now.  Soon, we’ll have to go.”

She would play about 5 minutes, and then come to check on Cowboy.

Again, my fallenness failed to realize how normal this would be.  Instead, I was just annoyed.  I tried to let it go and finish my intended celebrations for the day–lunch and ice cream.  We had a fun time, and I did my very best to celebrate Cowboy’s homecoming.  I did my very best to ignore the thumbsucking, the dazing, and the complete aloofness… for the rest of the day.

This story is starting to look more and more like the story of the Prodigal Son in which I’m the older brother…

And, then there was today.  It continued.  Her thumb sucking and her moping made me so angry!

And, then there was her behavior!  I found myself ready to threaten Sophia with, “Cowboy is going to have to stay in your room if you’re going to act like a baby.”  Her behavior today also regressed.  Lots and lots of crying.  😦  So, what in the freaking heck do I do now?

I don’t doubt my decision in reuniting my daughter with her most beloved lovey.  I don’t.  I just wish it didn’t have to be this way.  There will probably be limits that will eventually have to be set for Cowboy–Cowboy doesn’t leave the house unless we’re going on a big trip, etc.  And, eventually, it may be (if thumb sucking and dazing off don’t get under control) that we have to confine Cowboy to nap/bed times…  And, that’ll be okay.  In the meantime, I can be aware of my heart.  I may not know what to do with it.  But, I do know that if I was reunited with my long lost best friend, I would sure want my mother to rejoice with me.


For those of you hard-core fans (and especially those of you that asked), the following is a video of the event, i.e. the retrieval of Cowboy.  Warning.  It’s not for those with time restraints.  It’s long and slightly anti-climactic.  Though, if you absolutely love Sophia, then you know how important this was to her.  Hope you enjoy it if you watch it.

I want to dedicate this video to the kind-hearted people at The Container Store.  Wow.  What a great bunch of folks.