Bean has a very raggedy and very smelly Bear that she brings everywhere. It has been with her since she was about four months old. Bear was affectionately called Smother Bear by my mother-in-law because she believed that that faux-satin blanket that Bear has for a body would inadvertently smother our young babe while she slept. Bean has so far survived into toddlerhood, while Bear is definitely far worse for the wear.
Bear is basically a bacteria bomb of nastiness. Bear has kissed New York's streets on more than one occasion. Bear was lost once in midtown and then miraculously found in a phone booth. I can't even imagine the horrors also that occurred in that phone booth. Bear has been boiled, Lysolled, and washed weekly in Dreft. Bear has been chewed on and covered in all matter of food and yet, in spite of this awful old cheese smell, or maybe because of it, Bean loves this Bear.
Somewhere around nine months, I had an epiphany. What if I lost Bear? What if Bear was lost to that mysterious realm that holds all of Bean's missing tiny socks for ransom? I might never sleep again! And so, after carefully perusing the web for identical bears, I found two replacement Bears, Alt 1 and Alt 2. These substitute Bears lived safely on a high shelf, and were used whenever we left the apartment. They were there for doctor's visits, car trips, strolls in the park, music class, etc. Their fur was much brighter, and actually soft. They didn't smell badly and I swear, they rattled differently. Bean loved them and was instantly assuaged by them, but she also never kissed Alt 1 and Alt 2, like she did Bear. Sure, she'd hug them, but she never open-mouthed kissed them like she did to Bear.
My husband and I joked that if she ever saw all three of them together that a hole would rip in the space-time continuum (a la Back to the Future). Her world might collapse and we'd end up in toddler baby therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder. I was always careful to keep them separate. We'd come in from a walk and would deftly remove Alt 1 and replace it with Bear in her sleeping grasp. I'd practically turned into a magician or a pickpocket with my fast hands. I don't think she ever would have caught on until one day she was tall enough to reach the shelf.
I was in the kitchen when I looked over at Bean on the floor of the living room. She had pulled down Alt 1 and Alt 2 and positioned them in the middle of the floor. She had Bear in her right hand and was softly stroking Bear's well-worn Blanket nub. I stood there frozen. What should I do? Run for cover? Grab a broom and sweep the doppelgangers out of the way? Bean carefully laid Bear on top of Alt 1 and Alt 2, and then with a huge grin on her face she laid down on top of them, rubbing her face in their collective softness laughing merrily.
Bean's world didn't collapse. It just got better.