Growing up, I had a Cookie Monster stuffed animal. For as long as I can remember I had Cookie Monster (I referred to him as ‘Tee Tee’…cut me some slack, when I got him my grasp of the English language was only slightly better than my dog’s). I loved Tee Tee (at the time more than my older sister). He went everywhere and did everything with me. I had him for so long that his blue fur would become matted down. I lost the felt tongue that was in his wide open mouth somewhere between the ages of 4 and 7. And an unfortunate stomach illness and my subsequent vomiting spelled the end of his googlie eyes. But even through all of that, Tee Tee survived. Tee Tee’s survival and extended lifespan was due in large part by my mom. On more than one occasion she sewed tears on him with the skill of a micro-surgeon. So good was her stitching, I still have Tee Tee in a box in my basement (he’d be out but my wife made me put him away).
I have an 8 year old and the 5 year old who both have their own Tee Tees. A floppy eared black and white dog named Snoopy (it just looks like Charles Schultz’ dog) and Blankie, a bear head sewn to a small pink blanket, respectively. While my girls don’t carry their stuffed animals around with them during the day anymore, both Snoopy and Blankie are clutched tightly by my girls for bedtime, or illness, or fright.
Both stuffed animals have been with my girls for almost as long has they have been alive. Both stuffed animals have seen their share of battles, spilled food, and stomach viruses. And now, in their advanced age, both stuffed animals are showing the effects of being a stuffed animal to an 8 and 5 year old.
Recently, Snoopy developed a tear underneath his necklace, where his stretched out neck meets his head. Thankfully my oldest saw it early and sought out advice immediately.
“Oh my god, what happened? What’s wrong? Are you hurt!?”
“No, it’s Snoopy!” She was in a panic as she showed me the tear.
“Ok. Calm down. Let’s get my stuff.”
My stuff is my bag of sewing gear that, until this point, has only been used to reattach sleeves to shirts, patch holes in my jeans, and repair miscellaneous clothing tears. Suggesting to my daughter that maybe it was time to put Snoopy down wasn’t even an option at this point. My only play was to mend Snoopy.
First I had to prep the area. Snoopy has a beaded necklace around his neck that had become so tangled; it almost took me longer to get the necklace off as it did to sew him up. It almost reminded me of the necklaces the women on the covers of National Geographic wear. I reached in to my bag for my white thread. Grabbed a small needle, threaded it and began “operating” on Snoopy. I had to be careful because the “scar tissue” around the tear was very thin. I didn’t want to tear him more. As I stitched, my daughter stood next to me. Desperation was in her eyes. I only imagined what she was thinking at the time.
What if Daddy can’t fix him? What if his stuffing comes out? What am I going to do without Snoopy?
Then I thought about this whole situation.
Why did she call me? Maybe her mother wasn’t around? Maybe she was desperate? Maybe it was because she had seen me stitch and sew back together every piece of fabric to ever have a tear in our house? A little back-story: I had trained like a Shao Lin warrior under my mom’s tutelage, on the sewing arts (I graduated from her dojo only after I could snatch a needle out of her hand). I added to my training with a Home-Economics class that had us sewing all semester (hey, I needed it for graduation). Or maybe, just maybe, my daughter called on me to repair her torn best friend because of how she defines me.
Parents are called on for all sorts of situations. As parents, we’re sort of like the Navy SEALS (without the fully automatic weaponry). Parents have to wear a lot of hats. We have to be ready for lots of different situations. Sometimes we have to clean up a skinned knee. Sometimes we stay up all night long with a sick child. Other times we are needed for homework or to reach the box of crayons. For this situation, my little girl needed someone who could fix her torn Snoopy. So this was the day that I became a field surgeon for a stuffed animal.
Epilogue. I’m happy to report Snoopy made it through surgery with no complications. Scarring was minimal and child and stuffed dog are still together (and hopefully for a long, long time to come).