Tonight was kind of a sad night at our house. You see, Pork Roll II had to be retired. He's sitting here next to me now, all floppy and well-loved, while Back Seat Girl sleeps in her bed with his successor.
Everyone that knows us knows Pork Roll and his place in this family. He's been a part of our lives for almost as long as Back Seat Girl has been here. Before she knew she had hands he sat on her changing table waiting for the day when she would be able to pick him up and put him in her mouth. He was the perfect size for her little baby hands and his snout fit perfectly into her mouth. Pork Roll and BSG became inseperable. He came everywhere with us. He slept with her for every nap and at night she would babble to him until she fell asleep in her crib, her hand firmly gripping his neck. When she finally started to crawl, he got dragged around the house from room to room, exploring this new-found freedom right along with her.
Then, one fateful day when BSG was about 15 months old, we took a walk to the grocery store. Of course Pork Roll came long, riding proudly in the stroller. I had gotten into the habit of checking on his where-abouts during our outings since we'd had a few close calls with him before. He had fallen out of the stroller or gotten set down somewhere and then forgotten, and I didn't want to face a world that included BSG without her best friend. So, as we were walking home I bent down and looked into the stroller. No Pork Roll. I looked in the basket under the stroller. No Pork Roll. I turned around and looked behind me along the path we had just walked. No Pork Roll. I retraced me steps to the Lund's, around the Lund's, and finally asked to talk to someone about a Lost and Found. I was introduced to a very nice managed who said that "no, no ratty stuffed pigs had been turned in, but here is this brand new very big Clifford dog.". BSG and I looked at him in disgust and I stuffed him in the basket under the stroller. For a week after that I called the Lund's every day asking if anyone had turned in Pork Roll. I walked our route rooting around in leaves and looking into the storm sewers. Pork Roll was gone.
In the mean-time, I introduced Alison to the new Pork Roll. He was pink and fluffy and noticeably bigger than his predecessor, and while I was heartbroken that we had lost the original Pork Roll, BSG didn't seem to care. She took to the new Pork Roll immediately without questioning how I had managed to clean him and fluff him and make him look brand new. I secretly hated the new Pork Roll, with his ability to sit up without his head touching the ground and his new, fluffy fur. Soon, though, he started to lose his ability to hold his head up. His fur became just a little dingy, and his bean bag butt started to shrink from being continually squished under his human during naps.
That was almost two years ago. I have come to love the new Pork Roll just as much as the old Pork Roll. This one has been around a lot longer and gotten Back Seat Girl through a lot--giving up her morning nap, learning to walk, transitioning to a big girl bed, potty training, and welcoming a baby brother. Lately, though, BSG has been starting to show a bit of a preference for Puppy. While Pork Roll still accompanied her on the days she went to daycare and is a fixture at night and at nap time, Puppy is the one she pushed around in her stroller at home, or put to bed 500 times a day, carefully covering her (Puppy is a girl, make no mistake. She has had a baby in her back, after all.) with a blanket and reading her stories. While this made me sad, I knew there was nothing I could do, and I realized that Pork Roll would always have a very special place in her heart.
Last night while Driver was putting BSG to bed, he realized that Pork Roll was missing. He didn't want to say anything, and BSG didn't bring it up, so he let it go, and forgot about it. Then tonight, his presence was requested at bedtime. Driver and I frantically looked around the house, but couldn't find him. BSG was in bed, so Driver had just about been ready to seal the deal with a prayer. We didn't have much time before the bed-time window closed. We had been talking about switching out Pork Roll. He was really starting to show his age and the last itme I washed him you could barely tell he had touched soap and water. So, Driver and I made the decision that we would introduce a new Pork Roll and continue the search for the old one after BSG was safely tucked in.
I reached up into her closet where we keep the back-up Pork Rolls and pulled one out. I told BSG I was going to give her Pork Roll. I wish I could describe her face when she saw him. There are no words. She looked betrayed, hurt, sad. She reached up for him, took him from me, and said through tears "He's fluffy. I want him all crinkly". My heart broke into a million pieces. Driver and I explained that he had gotten all clean and he needed BSG to love him to make him crinkly again. We hit another snag when she noticed he had a tag (I had to cut the tags off all of her stuffed animals about a year ago one day when she made up her mind that they bothered her), but Driver snipped it off for her. I rocked her and let her ask questions. She seemed to understand and accept the fact that it was her duty to make him "crinkly" again.
After I put her back to bed I found Pork Roll. He had been tangled up in the sheets on Driver's and mine bed upstairs. I thought about sneaking into her room and switching them out, but then I realized that his time had come. I couldn't reintroduce him to BSG, not after all of the explaining I had to do to get her to accept the new Pork Roll. So, he is officially retired. I am sad, but I know that this new Pork Roll will soon look like both of his predecessors. He is ready to accept new tears: tears of 3 year old rage, or sadness, or hurt. The old Pork Roll holds the tears of her toddler years, and now it's time for him to let a new Pork Roll help her through these years as she transitions from being a toddler to being a little girl. I know he's up to the task.
Pork Roll II, you did a great job. You'll always hold a special place in my heart, and I hope I can find a place suitable enough for your retirement.