I crouch down and peer into the dark caverns under the couch. I find a missing ball, plenty of dust bunnies, and 36 cents, but the missing object is not there. I look behind the chair, under the couch cushions, and in the closet. No luck.
“It’s getting late. I guess we’ll just have to keep looking tomorrow,” I say with equal parts feigned calmness, defiant irritation, and helpless panic. But we all continue to search.
My husband takes the second floor, looking in bedroom closets, under beds, in dresser drawers, and even in the bathroom garbage can. I take the main floor, searching the toy bins, inside the fridge, and behind the television. Our pajama-clad sons stand by trying to help but largely exacerbating the problem with their pleas, whines, and forlorn faces.
My mind backtracks through the events of the evening. Did we leave it outside? Could it have gotten thrown down the laundry chute? Could one of the kids have put it in the garbage and it is now sitting outside among a festering bag of refuse?
“Any luck?” I call up to my husband. I receive a negative grunt in response.
I tear open the kitchen cabinets. I look in the plants. I scan the backyard. Flushed, angry, and more scared than I care to admit, I stare out the front window. Dammit, where the f— is it? WHERE THE F— IS IT?
Then I see it. Crumpled in a tiny ball of blue and brown, it sits in the far corner of the room, camouflaged against the floor boards and wall paint.
“I found it!” I call victoriously to my husband and sons. My son runs to me with a beaming grin and pulls his beloved Blankie close to him.
“Thanks, Mama,” he says as he snuggles his best buddy.
“You’re welcome,” I respond, tousling his hair. “Now brush your teeth and get into bed.”
The mayhem dies down and the order of our bedtime routine is restored. My son contentedly climbs into bed after saying goodnight to his younger brother.
As my husband and I kiss him goodnight, I say a silent prayer of gratitude that tonight will not be the night that my son is separated from his much-loved Blankie. That tonight will not be a night filled with tears. That tonight will not be the night that my son is forced to say goodbye to his best friend of the past five and a half years. That tonight will be a night of peaceful slumber with dreams of knights and pirates and spaceships and unicorns.
I say a silent prayer of thanks that tonight, while my son falls asleep snuggling his dear Blankie, I can forget that my son is growing up too fast. That tonight I can hold on to childhood for a little bit longer. That tonight the bittersweet passage of time is a little heavier on saccharine innocence than tart reality.