When Nick blessed Evie as an infant, she was blessed with the unique ability to make others feel loved.
This is an attribute that I see displayed in her almost daily, and have since she was very young (well, younger). She is constantly telling me, "I love you, mom," or "You cute, mom."
And she is already a very loyal friend, perhaps the most loyal toddler I know (I don't know that many toddlers, but whatevs).
Evelyn LOVES her "friends."
She never forgets them, brings them everywhere, kisses them "all better" when they fall out of her stroller, eats meals with them and plays with them. She even lets them sit outside the tub and "wait" for her to finish bathing. She changes their diapers, feeds them play food and wipes them clean when they get dirty. She reads books to them, watches movies with them and brushes their fur/hair/face/copious other body parts. If I'm sleepy or I tell her I'm tired, she offers one of her friends to me so I can snuggle with it.
Her "friends," (she calls them that) are an integral part of her social/familial life. They pray, read scriptures and brush teeth with us every night before bed.
There is nothing Evie wouldn't do for or with her friends.
No limits to how far her friendship and loyalty will go.
Initially, when Nick and I realized that she instantly got attached to anything stuffed, soft or fluffy, we thought it was cute. Then the amount of stuffed animals in our home reached a level unsafe for most apartment fire codes. It would be bothersome to help her haul two or three "friends," plus Ket (her blanket AKA best friend) all around. She HAD to have Ket and her friends in the car wherever we went and when I would put them in my purse at the park, she would occasionally quit playing and come check my purse to make sure they were still there. She often couldn't carry all her friends plus her Ket and I was always helping out, plus helping her get up and down stairs and re-tying shoes, etc. It was exhausting just getting Ev and her "friends" to our destination.
We're finally at the point now where we've come full circle. Evelyn is responsible enough to carry her own friends and she understands the concept of "too many," or "not enough room," and she knows she only gets Ket plus two to three friends depending on their size. If her hands are overly full, then only Ket and one friend get to come into the store or to the park.
Her extremely silly (and often annoying) habit of taking friends everywhere has become second nature to me as a mom. Its just what I do. I get all my "kids," - Ev, Ket, Bear, Polar Bear and Pumpkin Kitty in their carseat and ready to go. I make sure the music is loud enough for all my "kids" to hear. And now a chore that I found completely irritating is more adorable to me. People chuckle as Ev sassily walks down the aisles in Target with her "friends," and I can't lie, so do I.
I used to fret about how we were going to wean her from her "friends." I mean, she can't take them to kindergarten or snuggle with Ket on her wedding night, right?
I know people think we are crazy for letting her have so many "friends."
They find it weird, a nuisance, or just plain dumb and I'll be honest, for a long time I did too.
But Ev's loyalty is rubbing off on me and if she forgets a "friend" for nap time, I find myself running upstairs to hand it to her before she falls asleep.
And here's the deal - IT ISN'T ONE.
And I mean that. In the grand scheme of parenthood, whether or not my child has a bajillion stuffed "friends" doesn't matter. So I'm rollin' with it.
It makes her happy and I don't find it an inconvenience, so who cares? I mean, so much of being a parent is inconvenient, so why stress over something that really isn't? My concept of time and what matters has warped from the day Ev was born (in mostly good ways) and I feel like I'm constantly learning to "let things go." And I don't mean letting everything go - we don't live like savages or anything (at least most days), but sometimes you just have to relax.
Like today, on the way home from playgroup when we stopped by McDonald's and Ev and I split a french fry and a vanilla cone and I couldn't help but chant, "I'm not like regular mom, I'm a cool mom," as we jammed to Bibbity Bobbity Boo and Bare Necessities.*
*And not to brag or anything, but I also showered, did my hair, shaved my legs, and did Ev's hair. AMAZING MOM AWARD RECIPIENT!
Anyway, we got home and I was on cool mom cloud nine until I realized that my kid didn't want any lunch since she already had greasy french fries and fatty ice cream.
I don't really know where I'm going with this - my stream of consciousness these days is often ... odd. Bottom line, my kid looks like this when we leave the house everyday (usually without my cell phone).
So in thirteen years when she's like, "MOM YOU NEVER LET ME DO ANYTHING I HATE YOU WHY AREN'T YOU MORE LIKE SALLY SLUTFACE'S MOM AND LET ME ACTUALLY DO STUFF WITH MY FRIENDS I WISH I HAD DIFFERENT PARENTS THAT WERE COOL LIKE ALL MY OTHER FRIENDS PLEASE JUST LET ME GO DO SOMETHING THAT I WILL PROBABLY REGRET IN FIVE YEARS BECAUSE ITS SO IMPORTANT AT THIS MOMENT I MIGHT DIE!"
I respond with this blog post and this statement:
"Ev, that is ridiculous. I let you do plenty of things. Remember when you slept with all ten of your Hello Kitties for five years of your life? I think that puts me right up there with Sally Slutface's mom."
And by that point I'll probably be sick of the AMAZING MOM AWARD certificates hanging in my bedroom since it will be old news because we all know, "I'm not like a cool mom, I'm a regular mom."
Anyway, to justify all my future mom awards, I thought I should lay face to all of my daughter's "friends."
Meet the Kitties (From L-R, back row first):
Cupcake Kitty, Pink Kitty, Bunny Kitty, Rainbow Kitty, Plaid Kitty, Blue Kitty, Pumpkin Kitty, Duck Kitty, Baby Kitty, Baby Kitty.*
*All kitties/"friends" are named by Ev.
When she realized I was taking pictures of her kitties she wanted all her "friends," in the picture.
Are you surprised?
Ev is sitting in the chair with Puppy.
Then we have:
Baby Minnie, Minnie, Pink Kitty, Bunny Kitty, Rainbow Kitty, Plaid Kitty, Blue Kitty, Ram, Theodore, Baby, Green Bear, Bear, Ket (kind of hard to see), Pumpkin Kitty, Duck Kitty, Chick, Baby Kitty, Owl, Baby Kitty, Care Bear, Cupcake Kitty, Polar Bear, Frog, Turtle, Other Turtle, Naked Rat, Pascal and Rainbow.
Two weeks ago the favorites were Ket and Bear.
One week ago it was Theodore, Bear and Ket.
This week its Bear, Chick and Ket.
At least I force her to make her bed.
(She gets a dime each day for doing so)
See? Her "friends" eat with us EVERY morning.
If you need help weaning your child from their bottle, binky, blanket or thumb ...
I am clearly not the person to talk to.
But you could try looking for the perfect mom down the street, I heard she exists somewhere.