The tragedy of losing a favourite teddy bear

"We were green and uninitiated, perhaps a little naïve when it came to the favourite toy responsibility."
"We were green and uninitiated, perhaps a little naïve when it came to the favourite toy responsibility." Photo: Getty Images

With 100% failure in the sleep department (my children were all atrocious, rotten, terrible sleepers as babies, and no, I'm not scarred), I waved every possible soft toy, blankie, nuzzle nose item in front of their faces, hoping they'd take to something that would offer comfort. Nope. Nada.

Over their four babyhoods, it wasn't until the last child that we succeeded with a teddy bear attachment - and even then, it wasn't until she was three.

Her grandfather sent my daughter a teddy in the mail about six months ago. A completely random gift, a "just because" surprise. The teddy holds a red rose and her name is Hazel. I'm not sure if it is because it came in the mail or was a special gift or simply a teddy bear that strikes a chord, but my daughter is drawn to this bear like a toddler to a light switch.

She insists Hazel is a boy, and the teddy is her best buddy. She takes him to bed each night, tucks him under the covers and snuggles in. When she's fighting with her brothers, or having what I like to call "momentary sadness", she finds Hazel and has a cuddle.

But a child with a beloved toy comes with hefty responsibility; the idea of losing Hazel has me in a sweat. I've dreaded the potential day he'd be left behind somewhere, and we'd have to deal with the mountain of tears and the desperate search to replace him. It didn't occur to us we should have a back-up Hazel.

Well, folks, the fateful day arrived.

Hazel joined our family holiday to Queensland in October. I was reluctant to bring him, worried he'd be misplaced amongst hire cars, planes, accommodation venues, theme parks and beaches. My daughter was insistent, and given she's the only one to have such an attachment to the soft and cuddlies, I allowed Hazel a ticket to ride.

Fast-forward a week and we were home with no Hazel in sight. The husband and I shared the packing of the bags and somewhere in the mix the teddy escaped on his own little holiday. I don't blame him, Queensland is a far cry warmer than Melbourne.

I was frightened to break the news to my daughter as we arrived home at 10pm on that cold Tuesday night. Thankfully she was so tired and miserable, the replacement teddy I shoved next to her seemed to placate her until 2am when she woke and found an imposter in her bed. Calling out a feeble and devastated, "Hazel, Hazel", I again tried to pacify, distract and comfort her without her number one choice.

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Slightly embarrassing phone calls made to car rental companies, hotels, airports and anywhere else I could think of that may have found a random "teddy named Hazel, holding a red rose" were futile.

Telling my daughter that Hazel had taken extended leave and had decided on his own adventure held zero credibility. A Hazel replacement would be required.

With tails between our legs we made the call to Grandpa.

"We have a confession to make. We've left Hazel in Queensland. Where'd you get the teddy? We need to organise an emergency replacement."

Thankfully he had connections and was able to have a replacement Hazel shipped out to us, pronto. A substitute toy cat named "Catty" (yes, very creative name) got booted quick smart when Hazel arrived, demoted back to the bottom of the toy box.

Hazel has not left my daughter's side since and she didn't seem to care that Hazel was looking rather spiffy and a tad cleaner than the last time they hugged.

I'll admit, we were green and uninitiated, perhaps a little naïve when it came to the favourite toy responsibility. Now that Hazel II has arrived, I'm considering implanting a tracking device to avoid all this stress in the future.

Has your child ever lost a beloved toy? Did you have a backup plan? Replacement?

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