Friday, July 9, 2010

Prodigal Son

“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’” Luke 15:22-24

Two Christmases ago, my step-mother bought the kids a couple of stuffed animals from the dollar store. One was a panda, who never really found his place in life; the other a stuffed tiger, to whom my 7YO firmly attached himself. He named him Baby Jaguar, and nearly wore the hide clean off that poor stuffed animal. We took him everywhere with us – the zoo, to church, in the car, on trips – and he slept with him under his pillow every night. He also loved spinning him around by his tail and I had to stitch up Baby Jaguar at least once from some over-loving.

And then that fateful day that every parent with a child with a favorite small toy dreads came, and it was said at bedtime, “I can’t find my Baby Jaguar.” We looked around, but told him he’d just have to find him in the morning. But he didn’t. That was over six months ago.

Several reconnaissance missions have been deployed to find the missing Baby Jaguar. We first started with all the usual hiding places, but no Baby Jaguar was to be found. Then we cleaned the whole house, looking in the not-so-usual hiding spaces, but found nothing. Tears and moans and worries went on for months until we’d finally resolved ourselves to the fact that we were not going to find Baby Jaguar.

In April, our church had a garage sale (read all about our fun here: Rummage Sale) where I found a copy of The Velveteen Rabbit. We read that book, and even though I didn’t initially tie the story back to the loss of Baby Jaguar, the kids immediately thought that my 7YO had surely loved him too much and that he’d became real and ran away. The odds of us seeing a Jaguar in our yard were extremely low!

The kids finally stopped asking about him regularly and we kind of forgot about him.

Then one day, my 7YO decided that he must have left him at the church where he liked to throw him up into the air. He made up the story that he must have fallen into one of the lights and that we needed to look there. My husband took a ladder to all the church lights in the gym. Several balls, some partially melted and potential fire hazards, were found, but no Baby Jaguar.

And then he stopped asking about him for quite some time again.

Late in June, we were on the way to my dad’s when he asked about him again. He said maybe we could look for him when we got there. By this time, I knew we would probably never find his Baby Jaguar, so I told him that if we didn’t find him at Pa Pa’s house, that we would stop by the zoo on the way home and see if they had one like Baby Jaguar in the gift shop. We looked at Pa Pa’s house, but, of course, no Baby Jaguar.

I didn’t even know if they would have any stuffed tigers in the zoo gift shop, since all I’d ever seen in there were larger animals that ran about $15.00. Surely, though, $15.00 was a small price to pay for the angst of Baby Jaguar to heal. Plus, I knew in the back of my head that if we bought a replacement, we would surely find the old one! Isn’t that the way it always works?

I made good on my promise on June 25th. We stopped by the zoo gift shop and looked through all the animals. There weren’t any small ones where we usually looked, but as I rounded the corner, I spotted some smaller animals on a shelf. I called the kids over and they quickly located a stuffed tiger that didn’t really look like Baby Jaguar, but felt the same and was the same size. And only $7.00! What a bargain for therapy.

For two weeks, new Baby Jaguar has been tied to my 7YO’s hip, traveling in the car with us, sleeping under his pillow. Even though the kids note how he looks a little different from the old Baby Jaguar, he’s been a suitable replacement.

This morning, I hear screams from the bedroom.

“We found Baby Jaguar!”

What did I tell you?? He was in a Spiderman tool box… safe and sound… for six months!

You’ve never experienced a more joyful reunion between children and a stuffed animal!

Or a happier Mommy.

“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” Luke 15:4-7

1 comment:

  1. OHHH I love this! It brings back memories of Holly's Rocky Racoon! He looked like road kill. He was purchased in Silver $ City. Her constant companion. When she went up in front of the church to get her Sunday School Bible, Pastor also asked for Rocky to come up. Then he was lost in the mall. Never to be found again. We did find a suitable replacement that same day in the mall but those things can be so tragic! :) Connie


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