Thursday, April 17, 2008


When I was a baby, I was given a mint-green Winnie-the-Pooh jumper by my aunt, who was only 13 when I was born. My mom gave me that jumper along with two other bags of my mini-memorabilia when the lil' dude was born. She also told me how excited my aunt was to present the outfit to me, how she had picked it out herself while on a shopping trip at Sears with my grandma. By the time I came out of my new mama fog and went through my old clothes, the Pooh outfit wouldn't fit the lil' dude. It was too small.

I'm not sure if it was that jumper that started the official Pooh influence in my life, but something did. As a kid, I had lots of things Pooh, and the rest of his buddies too. It seemed natural for people to buy me things that had to do with that Disney family.

When I was around 14 or 15, my affinity for all things Pooh returned. Kind of backwards, considering I should have been discovering my love for Boys II Men, Lipsmackers, and stolen cigarettes instead of a Disney cartoon, but I was addicted (and I did love Boys II Men, Lipsmackers, and stolen cigarettes too) nonetheless.

I had blankets and keychains and window-clings and mugs and books and even stickers in my Corsica's windows. I was so that girl. I wonder if my friends remember my Pooh phase. When I went to college, I boxed most of it up at home as I gave my bedroom to my little brother and moved into his tiny room. That Pooh stuff is still in boxes. It was spared the moving sale my parents had when they moved, and even spared the threats of eBay when my dad realized how much of it there is. My mom has always protected my boxes of Pooh paraphernalia.

I know my mom has always had a very soft spot for the cartoon bear, and while pregnant late last summer, she gave me a gift for the lil' dude . . . a stuffed Pooh bear, four Pooh board books, and Pooh footie pj's. She said she bought the bear while on a business trip on the east coast before I was even prego . . . she just had to stuff him into her carry-on bag and save it in her closet for her future grandbaby. The nostalgia of Pooh returned to me in an instant as I opened that gift, as I settled the Pooh bear onto the lil' dude's hand-me-down rocking chair in her nursery.

My aunt, the very same one who presented me with my first bit of Pooh 28 years ago gave the lil' dude her own Pooh gift when she met her for the first time. A pink fleece outfit, blanket, stuffed bear, bottles, rattle, book . . . an entire explosion of yellow bear in one giant gift bag. My aunt simply said, "I had to, for your baby."

There is a particular Pooh quote that I have always remembered. I know I have sent my mom numerous cards with the same wording on it, in fact, I found one at Hallmark and sent it to her after she came to play me in real life after I had surgery last month. It goes,

Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. "Pooh," he whispered.
"Yes, Piglet?"
"Nothing," said Piglet, taking Pooh's paw, "I just wanted to be sure of you."

This week, the lil' dude has been sick, and out of sorts a bit. Her bedtime routine has been altered. She is being subjected to a Darth Vader mask, and thick peach syrup via a syringe shoved into her pink mouth. Her voice and squawks and cries sound different to her. She is still sleeping in her swing.

So, the last few nights, after we're done reading books in the rocker (various Pooh ones, natch) I shut her lamp off and just rock her instead of putting her down to sleep. Just a few moments of extra lovin'. As her eyes begin to drift closed, her little fist will reach up, trying to finger a piece of my hair, a strap of my tank-top, or my warm skin. When she finds that comforting bit she's searching for, she falls asleep.

"Mama," she whispered.
"Yes, lil' dude?"
"Nothing," said the lil' dude, taking Mama's hand. "I just wanted to be sure of you."

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