Secret Transplant Surgery

Jack loves his stuffed animals. They all have names and he can recall when and where he received each and every one. He pampers them, worries about them, talks to them, tucks them in at night and splits them up into teams for stuffed animal football matches.

Recently, Jack added a new member to his stuffed animal family. The newcomer’s name is Panda Bear (you guessed it, it’s a panda). It’s one of those Furballz brand animals. For the last few weeks Panda Bear has been Jack’s constant companion.

The rules regarding toys, stuffed animals, homework, and other cherished items in our home changed drastically in October 2010 when we added a rescue dog to our family. If you’ve read my other blogs you’re familiar with Griffin’s insatiable appetite for Barbie limbs. It took a few Barbie dismemberments but my daughter soon learned that Barbie can never touch the carpet if Griffin is in the room. Jack, however, hasn’t gotten that message yet when it comes to his stuffed animals.

Various members of the family have all done their share of chasing Griffin through the house as he tries to escape with George the Giraffe, Berry Bear, Smiley the Shark, Patches the Hamster or one of the other 30 or so members of Jack’s Zoo. Up until the other night, the worst that has happened is that a stuffed animal is saved from Griffin’s mouth with the only damage being a thick coating of dog slobber.

The other night, while walking down the hallway in my bare feet, I stepped on something small, round and hard. I picked it up and upon closer examination I noticed that it was a chewed and very damaged plastic eyeball. This wasn’t a good sign.

The kids were asleep. I went on a search throughout the house to find the owner of the eyeball. Then I saw it… over in the corner of the dining room was Panda Bear. His fur was matted, thanks to the now-dried dog slobber. He was winking at me. I knew I had found the owner of the eyeball. Panda must’ve fallen from Jack’s bed after he went to sleep and Griffin, like a shark smelling blood in the water, seized the opportunity.

Slobber-covered Panda Bear before surgery

I have grown used to late-night covert Griffin damage-repair duties, having hidden a number of chewed up Barbies in the last year and then running out to the store the next day to replace them. So I quickly scooped up Panda Bear and hid him in my office. The problem was, unlike Gracie, who wasn’t attached to any one Barbie particularly, Jack would search for his Panda Bear first thing in the morning.

Panda’s eyeball socket was in good shape. Apparently it had been a clean detachment. With a little Crazy Glue I could do an undetectable repair. My problem? The eyeball itself hadn’t faired so well.

I’m a well-stocked mom but I don’t keep a supply of plastic eyeballs on hand. Then it hit me. Jack had a  couple of stuffed animals that were way at the bottom of his vast pile that he rarely played with. I might be able to get away with it if I could find a good donor match.

I tip-toed into Jack’s room and quietly pulled out all the stuffed animals, being very careful to avoid the ones that squeaked and talked. I didn’t want to be caught in the middle of the night by my son with all his animals strewn around me. That would be a hard one to explain.

Luck was with me. I found a donor at the bottom of the pile. His eyes were a close enough match for Panda Bear. I tip-toed back into my office, closed (and locked) the door and began the transplant surgery.

The next morning, when Jack woke up, Panda Bear was nestled beside him, staring into space with two eyes. The stuffed animal donor was gently hidden away in my closet in case I need another eyeball in the future.

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