Tuesday, October 7, 2008

If you love him, set him free

Meet Hudson.

Hudson is more than old enough to buy you a beer.

Look at his graying fur, his rubbed-away nose, his cloudy eyes. He should be enjoying a nice retirement.

He's my childhood bear and he's served me well. He listened to my secrets. He traveled across this country with me and he moved to the Middle East with me. He lived on my bed in college, and in the post-college years when I lived alone, he was my man-of-the-house.

He's a very good secret keeper and he never leaves the toilet seat up.

Hudson and I, we have great history. Hudson: my confidante, my bedmate. M is a great guy but my time sleeping limbs entangled with Hudson goes back longer, deeper. Hudson: my first love.

Mama and her beloved Hudson. Photo by E, age 2.

This is Hudson (not Henry).

It's a classy name, isn't it? My seven-year-old self thought so. I was a young sophisticate. I wore lots of tweeds and glen plaids. Growing up in New York I enjoyed the homage to Henry but the source of his name is his birthplace. My grandmother bought my bear for me at the now-defunct Hudson's department store of Detroit, Michigan. And really, I wore lots of bright pink and purple sweatpants.

Blame the economy, perhaps. Hudson has been pressed back into service in the workforce. E sleeps with him every night now.

About a month after we moved E to her big girl bed she began a phase where she was a little afraid of being alone at night. One desperate 3am I had what I thought at the time was an ingenious idea. I brought Hudson to her and told her that because he's my bear, if she snuggles him while she falls asleep that's the same as snuggling me. She clutched him and fell straight to sleep.

The next morning I thought about Hudson's magical soothing powers the night before and envisioned for him a new future: the role of "special treat." I envisioned that he'd be available when a kid needed a little extra TLC -- when one of the girls couldn't sleep, such as E the night before; or to play companion on a sick day; or as a special friend after a fall and a boo-boo. What a good plan, I thought.

That night as E was getting ready for sleep she paused before climbing up into her bed and declared to me, I want your bear.

Oh, I thought, ignoring the many red flags flapping all over my Grand New Plan, and said "sure, if he'll help you sleep. Here you go."

The next few nights she asked for Hudson and the next few mornings I retrieved him -- until one day, when I just forgot. And that night at bedtime Hudson was already there, waiting for her.

The Weekend of Atrocious Behavior that we sludged through two weekends ago included the systematic removal of polyfil friends from E's bed. If you don't start listening, we're going to take Dora away as a punishment. Bye, Dora! If you don't start listening, we're going to take away Shark. Bye-bye, Shark! We're going to...Bye, Purple Girl! Bye, Baby Doll! Bye, Piggy! We're going to take Hudson away. NOOO!! I need Hudson! I listen! I listen!

The next afternoon, when she really did have Hudson confiscated, it broke her defiance. She's actually been very well behaved since that day. But that afternoon she was so quiet, so despondent. She was compliant, but missing her usual spark. As much as I was relieved that she was listening again, her subdued behavior was unnatural and upsetting.

That night she overfilled her pull-up and wet the bed. It was about 3am when she called for me, crying. After I pulled her wet clothes off and pulled her wet sheets off and got everyone and everything dry and functional again, she climbed in my lap and asked me to rock her. She was so tired she could barely open her eyes to look at me but she couldn't stop crying. I asked her what I could do to make her feel okay. She halted her crying, struggled to open her bleary eyes enough to look directly at me, and quietly, between hiccups, said:

Mama, I really, really want your bear.

Obviously, I got him for her.

And beginning that day and ever since her behavior has remained good by her exuberance has returned, too. But her fix on Hudson is now tighter than ever.

Last night as she got ready for sleep E lay Shark next to her right side, Dora above her head across the top of the pillow, Purple Girl by her left ear, and Baby Doll along the left side of her bod. Then she asked me to hand Hudson to her. I asked where he was going to go and she smiled as me as she answered on top!! and lay him right on her body, tucked under her chin and extending nearly to her feet. I asked her, teasing, "whose bear is that again?" and she answered sincerely, he's yours, Mama, but I'm letting you share him with me.

Just so we're clear on that, then. She's letting me share him with her.
My beloved childhood bear in the arms of my beloved child.

This is Hudson (no longer mine?).
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Anonymous said...

I remember when Hudson was new and shiny and had a bow tie. I remember putting him into a pillow case to wash him in the washing machine for the first time and hoping he'd survive. And, tonight, I am glad he did survive, so Hudson has a new friend and you might just get some sleep.
Love, Grams
And, NES, your grandparents would be very pleased that you share so nicely!

Kelly O said...

AAAWWW!!!! *sniff*