When my twin boys were babies, a well-meaning family member gifted the boys with bright, clean, fuzzy, plush stuffed Tiggers. As the boys got older, Tigger became their absolute favorite toy. Like security blankets, the Tiggers now accompany the kids everywhere except school. At first we found it kind of cute, since the older children never attached themselves to any one special possession. However, as the boys grew older and played rougher, those poor Tiggers became the victims of more abuse than lab rats and crash-test dummies combined.
Boys generally don’t play as nice as most girls when it comes to toys. Those poor Tiggers have worn everything from hats to Pull-Ups. They have been handcuffed (by the neck) to the metal bunk beds and enjoyed many a launch from the blades of a ceiling fan, or worse, into the blades of a ceiling fan. Our high school has a cannon that’s fired every time our football team scores. Hopefully the Tiggers will be but a memory by then. If not, I’m looking at a huge therapy bill.
A mother’s keen senses always alert her to possible danger around her children. My memory may be going, but my Spidey senses tingle any time trouble looms. Things will be quiet for a while before laughter erupts down the hall or from behind the storage building. Sometimes the warning comes in the form of an odor, like when something’s burning. That particular day the source of the smell was a scorched Tigger tail. The boys thought it would be fun to put Tigger’s tail in the toaster. Things like that are embarrassing to explain to the home security company. They don’t look too kindly on false alarms.
On another gorgeous day last spring I sat outside on my patio and enjoyed the fresh air while I tried to get some writing done. The boys were playing in the yard. I tend to get focused when I write, so I was not watching the events before me.
At some point my son’s little finger tapped me on the shoulder.
“Tigger’s dead,” he deadpanned, and pointed to an area in the yard. I saw a mound of dirt, small and sad. A single yellow flower (no idea where he found it) stood straight up from the center of the fresh grave. It must have been the Swine Flu that did Tigger in, or maybe a killer case of dust mites. He probably caught the flu from being tethered to a patio umbrella pole, then forced to endure a series of rainstorms. Waterboarding in the Hundred Acre Wood. I guess we’ll never really know.
Due to a high number of swims in the washing machine, both Tiggers maintain a constant state of disrepair. Their colors have gone from fresh to faded. Their bodies have spontaneous holes popping up at any given time. My mother has sewn them up more times than I can remember with multiple colors of thread. Tails have been reattached, noses have been re-stitched, and various other parts bear the wounds of war. For all intents and purposes, they have become Frankentiggers.
When I just couldn’t stand looking at the things any longer I hid them, thinking I could wean the boys from the hideous things. At first it was an ugly scene, but as the weeks passed I caught a glimpse of a life free from embarrassment. Eventually twins asked less often about when they would get their Tiggers back. I offered them no false hope and stood firm. I felt like the worst mother in the world.
One day my son walked up to me with a ratty, gray, stringy thing I barely recognized as a detached Tigger tail that somehow got left behind. He looked at me with big, teary brown eyes.
“I miss him,” he said in a little voice.
Those three words and the face of a brokenhearted little boy just did me in. All my resolve disappeared and rendered me useless. How could I deny that sweet face? I caved, and gave them back the Frankentiggers. I figure they can’t take much more abuse anyway. When the Tiggers finally reach the point past salvation, I’m going to put them away until they start dating. Then I’ll get my revenge.