If you have spent the last few weeks only watching Christmas adverts (and why wouldn’t you, everyone loves some forced sentimentality, don’t they?) you may have missed the new Richmond Sausage campaign. The one with the lost teddy, languishing in a shopping trolley, all alone in an empty supermarket car park? The idea behind the ‘Sausage and Chip’ campaign is that caring parents should microchip their nippers favourite toys. The tracking devices can be won when you buy packs of sausages.
A few weeks ago this ad campaign would have passed me by. Perhaps I might have thought it a little odd: microchip your pets – sure, your car keys – maybe, but a toy – come on!
That is until last weekend. Last weekend will be forever etched into the memories of my husband and I. Last weekend we LOST baby Jonto.
Let me explain, baby Jonto is my daughter’s baby doll. He has a funny face and is gender neutral (“He’s a girl!”). He gets carried everywhere, not unlike a comfort blanket in baby doll form. He is always my daughter’s Show and Tell at pre-school. He sleeps in her bed and ‘eats’ his meals with us. Heck, that baby is one of the family. I am even buying Christmas presents for him, so he doesn’t feel left out.
You get the picture.
So, let me get back to last weekend. The day was spent busily doing the stuff that busy families do. Car-boot sale, brunch, lunch out, visit cousins, entertain grandparents, hang out. The usual Sunday drill.
And then finally it was bedtime.
Martha asked for Jonto. As I have mentioned he sleeps wrapped in her arms. He wasn’t in the playroom or any of his other resting places. He wasn’t anywhere in the house. The husband went to look in the car. No sign of Jonto. I had a very bad feeling.
We had lost Jonto.
Naturally Martha was upset. I hastily told her a scrambled story of Jonto having a sleepover at Auntie Hannah’s house, but I could tell she didn’t buy it. She wanted to join the search for him. My soul broke a little bit when she saw Jonto’s pink babygro (removed due to juice spillage earlier in the day) on the bannister. “Jonto!” she cried delightedly. Only to burst into disconsolate tears when she realised it was a Jonto-less babygro.
Any parent who has seen their child’s heartbreak (for whatever reason), knows the pain of being powerless to help. The primal urge to heal a situation that can’t be healed. To protect your child from any emotional harm. To keep their innocence intact and shield them from the random cruelty of the world. Failure to do so eats you inside – it is nauseating and edged with guilt. You are a poor, careless parent.
Eventually, with the hollow sleepover story ringing in our culpable ears, a tear-exhausted girl fell asleep.
Now my husband, like most men needs to be active in a crisis. So (like the fella in the advert) at 9pm he left the house in search of Jonto. He went to the restaurant where he and the kids had brunch, to the cousins’ house (they were out), everywhere to no avail. I, on the other hand, looked on Amazon for a Jonto replacement. None of the toys on the site seemed to be suitably gormless or to have Jonto’s wide-eyed charm.
The next morning Martha awoke and her first question after looking in her bed for the missing doll was “Is Jonto back?” My husband and I repeated the lame sleepover story and told her he would be back for tea. I planned a trip to the local toyshop while the kids were at pre-school.
And then something marvellous happened. A happy ending to end all happy endings. Jonto was found. Recovered. Reclaimed and ultimately reunited.
He really had had a sleepover at Auntie Hannah’s! He was discovered lingering in at the bottom of the toy box. He had changed his clothes and was now wearing a flimsy disguise of a crocheted dress, but he couldn’t hide his dopey expression that we all loved. And he wasn’t even microchipped. He had just showed up. Praise be!
When I thrust him back into Martha’s arms, she yelped with joy “Jonto, my best friend.”And I honestly could have wept over this bit of badly assembled plastic and stuffing and what he meant to my two year-old daughter.
And so what is the moral of this little tale of sloppy parenting and negligence . Well, I’m not sure there is a message except this – I am never want my daughter and Jonto to be parted again. I will win a microchip and if that means eating a lot of sausages, well, that is a sacrifice I am willing to make.
by Kim x