My older daughter never had a special sleep toy, so I was unaware of the importance of such a ritual until I met Blue Pig.
Out of the 100 plus stuffed animals my younger daughter has crammed into her toy chest, somehow the Blue Pig became her favorite.
She sleeps with Blue Pig every night, and he travels with us whenever we leave town. To make matters a little more complicated, Blue Pig is not small. So, he doesn't easily fit in a purse or in a carry-on and often must be carried in someone's arms, often mine.
After a recent trip to the beach, we discovered in horror that Blue Pig had not returned home one night when we heard a scream.
"Mommy, where is Blue Pig?" she cried from her room. I mentally scanned my car and the two bags of gear from our trip in the hallway. And then it hit me - he was right where we left him, on the floor next to the bed at the beach. I am usually not careless when it comes to Blue Pig. I know what he means to my daughter. I always take one last sweep when we go anywhere to make sure he is with us. But this time, I dropped the ball.
"I will never sleep again," my daughter said, dramatically putting her hand to her heart.
"Sweetie, we'll get him back. I'm just not sure when," I said, knowing how dire the situation appeared to her.
Luckily, when my mother bought my daughter a Blue Pig, she also bought an identical one for herself. After a frantic call to my mother that night, her Blue Pig was on the way to us courtesy of UPS as a temporary solution until we could get the original back.
"Hmmm, he doesn't smell like my Blue Pig," my daughter said astutely as she sniffed his fur. She then turned him around and examined him. "He looks newer than my Blue Pig."
We all held our breath and waited for the realization to dawn on her that we had performed a Blue Pig switcheroo.
"But, he does have a stain right here. I guess he must be mine," she said with a shrug of her shoulders as she tucked him under her arm and wandered off towards her bedroom.
I still haven't had the opportunity to switch the pigs out again. I plan to do it soon, but frankly I am a little nervous given her keen powers of observation when it comes to Blue Pig.
If I get caught, however, I hope she will realize someday that it was all done out of love.
Amanda is the mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including two on motherhood. Find her here on Mondays.