It was Easter time, two years ago in the Land of Guam, when I happened upon her. She was beautiful; her pink and white fur gleamed, and her two black eyes were like bits of polished onyx under the fluorescent lighting. Her shirt bore the embroidered message “hug me”. Awwww. She was the most aesthetically pleasing stuffed animal, situated almost on a pedestal amongst the blue bunnies and oversized yellow chicks. My mind wandered… Kenz had once said she “wiked cats” (translation = liked cats), so I wanted to surprise her with a special gift upon my return home. I missed all three of my kids and my husband terribly; however this particular deployment had been the first and longest time I had been away from my sweet baby girl.
Upon arriving home, the overstuffed bag of goodies that I always seem to acquire for my family when deployed was dumped out like Santa’s knapsack. As always, the gifts and trinkets were appreciated and loved, but the pink and white stuffed cat was immediately taken to. It was love at first sight – there was no transition period or getting to know you stage. I was quickly informed by my then 1 1/ 2-year old that her new cat was named “Meow-Meow”, “Pink Meow”, or just “Meow” for short, and was not a SHE, but a HE. Meow, when gently squeezed, would say some cutsie little saying like “You’re perrrrrfect” or “I love you”. It didn’t take long for Kenzie to start cooing back in response.
Kenzie loves Meow and Meow loves Kenzie, it is obvious: they never leave each other’s side. Their relationship has blossomed and they have gotten very close… late one night, several months after being introduced to Meow, after they had been tucked snuggly into bed, Kenzie found Meow’s “phone” tucked away up inside his body. So she removed it. Meow didn’t say much after that. I guess my daughter likes the strong, silent type.
At first, the family was especially put off by MacKenzie and Meow’s relationship. Okay, I was put off. When my daughter injured herself, did she run to me for consoling? No. Meow was always her first choice. When MacKenzie was scared, had exciting news to share, or just wanted a hug, who did she turn to, time and time again? Meow. It didn’t take long to see the importance of the relationship. Meow was number one in MacKenzie’s eyes, and there was no getting past that.
I’m a strong believer in “everything happens for a reason”, however, so instead of being hurt, I began to use their bond to my advantage. For example, my daughter loathes (screams, cries, kicks, etcetera) getting her hair brushed and styled in the morning. She is not an early morning person, and is the most difficult during the wee hours of the day. If I were to brush Meow’s hair first, however, Kenz would happily accept the grooming, and sit there smiling lovingly at Meow, telling him how great his hair looked. Muwahahahaha. This has become an important part of my husband and my parenting skills. Meow entices Kenzie into eating her veggies, sitting still at dinner time, going to bed when told, and a plethora of other tasks that would prove to be impossible without him.
Mackenzie and Pink Meow have been through everything together: sicknesses, doctor’s appointments, the first day of preschool, having to put on a dress for her sister’s school function, overwhelming family gatherings, picture day at school, visiting Santa. Meow-Meow has been there for her through thick and thin and I have learned to appreciate his presence in her life. Hell, he has even taught MacKenzie rudimentary skills: Lying in bed with Daddy one night reading her bed time stories, Kenz looked up at her father and explained, “You have green eyes, I have blue eyes like Mommy, and Pink Meow’s eyes are black. And that equals six.” Thank you Meow. Now, I even love you.
There have been others… family members intrigued by my daughter’s love for Meow-Meow try to tempt MacKenzie with other stuffed cats. Kenz loves them and plays with them all, but Fluffy Kitty, Orange Meow, Little Kitty, Blue Kitty, Big Kitty, White Meow, and Pudgy-Wudgy will never, ever, ever replace Pink Meow. Ever. MacKenzie reminds us of this when Meow is playing an extended game of hide and seek or decides to stay at daycare over the weekend. <shudder>
Pink Meow has been loved so much, in fact, that the stuffing filling his head has retreated into his lower cavity. And now we get to the sad part of my story. His poor deflated head lolls around on the few pieces of neck stitching remaining. His speaker from his “phone” is the only thing remaining in his sweet little head, and it rattles around unnaturally. His fur is matted, and is no longer brilliant pink and white. He lost his shirt ages ago. His little black eyes are barely hanging on, so I am constantly scouring the craft stores for replacements, when the time comes. And believe me, the time will come. I used to give Meow baths <in the washing machine>, but dare to chance it now. One more time could be the end of him. Because of this, he now has a distinct smell; something of slobber and a sick adoration. People snicker, turn their noses up in disgust, and make inappropriate comments when they see Meow. It really is a travesty. If only these rude onlookers knew how much Meow means, not only to my daughter, but to our family.
And so begins a new category… Adventures of Meow.