THE SONIC BOOMER
These are dark days at my daughter’s house as everyone mourns the loss of Binky-Monkey.
Binky-Monkey was a sprightly little lad; a stuffed toy monkey with the added attraction of being attached to a pacifier or, as those of us “in the trade” call it, a binky. I personally never cared for Binky-Monkey, because a child with a wad of plastic stuffed into its yaw is bad enough, but a child with a soggy, dirty, unidentifiable rag toy also dangling from its cherubic lips is worse.
But we must not speak ill of the dead or, in this case, the missing.
Let me recreate the tortured scene for you. A loving mother who cares enough to send the very best sends the very best to the zoo — two happy children with their awesome teenage babysitter — for a day of educational gawking at the animals. The sitter, being only 15, is not accustomed to the importance of keeping one eye on the children (ages 2 and 4) and the other eye on all the children’s gear — backpacks, lunch, stroller, blankie, sippy cups, pull-up pants, extra shirts, double socks, spare shoes and, above all else, Binky-Monkey.
So Binky-Monkey, feeling an affinity for his kind behind bars, quietly slips away. He may have fallen into the gorilla pit; he may have been waylaid by the tempting smells of hot popcorn; he may have been purloined by another two-year-old in a passing stroller — it matters not. The only thing that matters is that Binky-Monkey is gone!
The discovery is not made until hours later when the loving mother shows up to reclaim her young brood and drive the babysitter home. The moment the two-year-old is belted, buckled, buttoned, strapped and otherwise “made one” with her car seat, she feels sleepy and requests “Binny-Monny.”
The search begins — and quickly escalates from tedious to frantic.
Twenty minutes later, the fruitless search ends with the realization that Binky-Monkey is gone for good. Lost-and-found has no such animal, and the gorilla ain’t talkin’. This is where the howling starts.
To the casual observer, the deprived child seemed like an adorable little tyke, but this tot has some pipes. The wailing, the crying, the hysteria! The gnashing of teeth, the mournful bellows, the wracking sobs! In their cages, the animals roar with her. There’s trouble in the jungle.
A name and number have been left with the zoo, but the future looks grim — weeks of naptimes accompanied by weeks of bedtimes without the object of her desire. She has lost her Romeo. Wherefore art thou, Binky-Monkey? This is not going to be good.
And when a child is two, you do not run out and buy a replacement. She’s too old for that. Instead you try, night after miserable night, to explain to the child how much the gorilla (or otter or kangaroo or penguin) is loving her toy; that Binky-Monkey has chosen a new home with his “own kind;” and that she is a very big girl for sharing in this way.
She won’t care but, eventually, the trauma will fade away.
Or will it?
I wonder how much of our adult angst can be traced back to just such a loss — whether a binky, a blankie or a cuddly. Whether lost or stolen, we lost a bit of our innocence when it went.
After all, it was our first love.