This post is a departure from my normal shit. Sometimes I need to get serious. Curses have been kept to a minimum (don’t worry, I will still find a way to insert them). Oh and hoo hoo = vagina. Enjoy.
When our son, Nico, was born, John’s best friend, Craig, and his family bought Nico several gifts the day we returned home from the hospital. One of those gifts was a beautiful, plush blue dog blanket that looked so lush I wanted to rub it against my own cheek and fall asleep. What can I say? I was tired. Pushing a baby out of your hoo hoo can be exhausting.
I thought it would be bad form to steal one of Nico’s first gifts, especially since he was only three days old. Let him develop his motor skills first, I reasoned, so he at least has a fighting chance of defending his belongings.
The truth is, we were incredibly touched by the gift. Craig’s own son had the same blanket since he was a baby. He and that blanket were inseparable. In a moment of creative inspiration, his son called the blanket “Blue Dog.” Craig’s son and Blue Dog went everywhere together. Blue Dog slowly became worn down and in a cruel twist of fate, was decapitated. Realizing that a headless Dog might be somewhat disturbing to their child, his parents quickly bought a new Blue Dog to replace the old one.
But as you probably know, nothing could replace the original Blue Dog.
Nico quickly became attached to his blanket. So inspired by the name our friends had used, we decided to keep the tradition alive and dubbed him Blue Dog as well. At night we would hear Nico gurgling to the dog nonsensically, chattering away about the things that are generally on a child’s mind. When we would check on him, we would find the blanket nestled in his arms. If we ever tried to take it away, Nico would hold onto it, not letting it go even in his sleep.
But as can be expected and as we saw before with Craig’s son, when your child becomes so attached to something, you can be sure it will take a beating. Recalling the horror of the original Blue Dog’s untimely decapitation, I thought that I would be proactive. So for Christmas, I bought Nico a new Blue Dog. I thought I would beat it up a little so I jumped on it a few times and threw it against the wall to give it more of a worn look.
When Nico was sleeping one night, I managed to get the old Blue Dog out of his Kung-Fu grip and replaced it with the new, slightly stomped on dog.
But when he woke up in the morning and saw the new dog, the first thing he said was, “Blue Doggy have no more boo boos?” He marveled at the silky paws and the smooth tummy on the new dog. I told him we brought Blue Dog to the Doggy Hospital and they fixed him, but he knew something was up. He eyed Blue Dog suspiciously. He kept holding the blanket in his hand, looking the doggy in the eyes, “Blue Dog? Blue Dog?” He kept asking the dog to confirm its identity as if he was asking, “Is it really you? Talk to me, Buddy.”
I couldn’t keep up the lie anymore. I went and got the mangled Blue Dog out and gave it to Nico. I explained that now he had two dogs and that one was just newer than the other. I was sure he would drop the old, slightly eviscerated dog in favor of the new, shiny 2.0 model.
But kids are funny like that. Nico quickly became possessive of both dogs and would hold one under each arm. Now at night, instead of just having one-sided conversations with one inanimate object, he has one-sided conversations with TWO inanimate objects. AWESOME.
He calls the old dog, Strong Doggy. The other Blue Doggy is just “Blue.”
I don’t know if it says anything about my son and his character, but I’m glad that he recognizes that the old dog is strong. That it might be battered and bruised and a little bit worse for the wear. Perhaps not as trendy or as cool or as popular as the new dog. Not as good looking. Maybe in need of a little more love and attention.
As you probably guessed, somewhere in this post this became less about a beat up plush dog and a little bit more about how we treat people. We all know how things were in high school as we navigated the slippery turf of the social jungle. In our youth, we saw friendships shift, old friends forgotten as the other found themselves more desired and better positioned on the social ladder. We have all balanced on the see-saw of insecurity, finding ourselves and recognizing what true friendship means.
I think I have done some fucked up shit in my life when I look back at some friendships and I wasn’t even really that bad. But yes, the allure of being on the most desired part of the social spectrum always tugged at me a little.
Even as an adult, I find that some friends can pull away when they find the glossy, slick upgraded version of me. It has made me sad to realize that I can be replaced, but that’s life. As one of my new friends, Sabina would say, “That is some fucked up shit right there.”
I agree, Sabina. Some fucked up shit, indeed.
Some people may turn away from the Strong Dogs of their life. But I am grateful that my son holds his a little tighter, plays with him a little more, chooses him to have his more serious one-sided conversations with.
He is very fortunate to have Strong Doggy in his life.
Anyone who is blessed with both old friends and new, is fortunate too.
“I think if I’ve learned anything about friendship, it’s to hang in, stay connected, fight for them, and let them fight for you. Don’t walk away, don’t be distracted, don’t be too busy or tired, don’t take them for granted. Friends are part of the glue that holds life and faith together. Powerful stuff.”- Jon Katz