a tale of two chocolates

Juniordwarf has a lot of teddies. (The teddies are his vast collection of soft toys, ranging from my old panda through many different species including tigers, a frog and several actual teddies. This is as opposed to the animals, which are all his plastic animals.)
Different ones have been his favourites at different times, and their names have changed over the years as well.
He has a teddy called Chocolate-the-Girl and a teddy called Chocolate-the-Boy. I don’t know where these names came from, or why he thought Chocolate was a unisex name – or even a name at all – but those names have stuck.
Chocolate-the-Boy came from one of those grabby prize machines that they have in pubs. Juniordwarf somehow managed to win it when he and Slabs went to the pub for a meal one night when I was away. Slabs says he didn’t even see Juniordwarf do it (but he’s since repeated the performance in another machine and we still have no idea how he managed it other than pure fluke).
Chocolate-the-Girl’s origin is a mystery. We think one of Slabs’ cousins gave her to us for Juniordwarf when he was a baby. She is actually Zoe from Sesame Street http://www.sesamestreet.org/muppets/zoe, but Juniordwarf hasn’t watched much Sesame Street and doesn’t know the characters. When he found out she was Zoe, he said that must be her nickname.
I think he is particularly fond of Chocolate-the-Girl because she has long hair that he can twist around and put up (just like he tries to do with mine). Ever since he’s been very young he’s been completely hung up on particular women we know, and obsessed about whether their hair is up or down. The most important thing he reports back on each day at school is what his teacher was wearing in her hair that day.
I’m just glad he doesn’t know about those old Barbie hairstyling sets that were popular when I was younger.
Earlier in the year, when lots of his classmates were taking their teddies to school, Chocolate-the-Girl was the one Juniordwarf took to school every day. A couple of months ago he told me that Chocolate-the-Girl would be staying home with me on my work from home day. So I got into the spirit of this, and took some photos of her to show him what she did during the day. He thought it was great.
 A couple of days later, Juniordwarf wanted me to take Chocolate-the-Boy to work, so I did the same thing for him.
 After that, Chocolate-the-Girl became a regular visitor to my workplace, and Chocolate-the-Boy started to accompany Slabs.
Yesterday Chocolate-the-Boy was supposed to go to work with Slabs. Slabs told Juniordwarf to leave him on his bag. He didn’t, and Chocolate-the-Boy got left at home.
When Slabs picked Juniordwarf up, he’d been trying to think of a story to explain why Chocolate-the-Boy wasn’t with him. Last week, my reason for Chocolate-the-Girl having been left at home already being at home when we got there was that she’d got a headache at my work and had to come home early, on the bus. He was fine with that.
Juniordwarf saved Slabs the trouble of coming up with an equally plausible explanation. He said that Chocolate-the-Boy had gone to the moon and he wouldn’t be back until Monday. Problem solved.
Today Chocolate-the-Girl was meant to come to work with me. I decided to put her in the drink holder of my bag so she could see where we were going while I was walking to work.
This was all very well until I was almost at work and discovered her missing.
The absolute gut-wrenching horror that fell upon me at that moment is indescribable.
My reaction was sheer and utter panic.
All I could think about was how devastated my little boy was going to be when I told him Chocolate-the-Girl had gone and really wasn’t coming back, and how betrayed he’d feel that he’d entrusted me with his teddy and I’d lost her.
I was almost in tears as I started retracing my steps. I was hoping that she hadn’t fallen out on the road and been run over, or that someone hadn’t found her and decided to keep her for their kids.
It was an unbearable walk. I was getting more and more frantic as I scanned the street and the road for any sign on Chocolate-the-Girl. It brought to mind this blog post I read recently about a small girl who had lost her beloved toy dog, http://www.handsfreemama.com/2011/10/18/a-well-loved-child/and the impact that had on her mother, as she realised that a day would come that her daughter wouldn’t need her teddy any more, wouldn’t want to hold her hand any more . . .
But I digress.
I was imagining what I was going to say to Juniordwarf, where I was going to go for coffee to calm myself down before I went into work, whether I’d even be able to handle going to work knowing I’d made this terrible mistake, and indeed, even trying to explain why I was so upset about losing a teddy bear, and why on earth I was bringing my child’s teddy to work in the first place, I mean who does that? Really?
I was on the last leg of the return trip when I saw a flash of orange. It was Chocolate-the-Girl. She was sitting on the ground propped up against a fence, so someone had obviously found her, seen (by the fact that Juniordwarf’s name was written on her tag) that she did belong to someone, realised that the owner would probably be back as soon as they realised she was gone, and moved her out of the way so she didn’t get wrecked.
 I was totally relieved. Beyond relieved. There must be a word to describe the relief. It was the exact opposite feeling I’d had when I discovered her missing.
I picked her up and gave her a hug.
Yes, I actually hugged a small soft toy.
I was so grateful to whoever found her and left her there for me to find. I thanked them on Twitter and I thank them again here. They will most likely never read this, but I’m sending them positive thoughts, thanks and well wishes for their honesty. It made my day.
The only other good thing to come out of this is that I covered so much ground, my day’s walking was done before I even got to work.
I didn’t let Chocolate-the-Girl out of my sight for the rest of the day. This included her sitting in on our staff meeting and coming shopping with me at lunchtime, much to the amusement of my colleagues.
When Juniordwarf asked what Chocolate-the-Girl had done today I decided not to mention her escapade. He was just happy knowing she’d been with me.
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