We’ve lost Leo.
He was the first toy that we ever bought for our daughter, Gigi. She’s cuddled him, carried him around, fed him biscuits, dressed him up in her favourite princess outfit, introduced him to strangers, been photographed with him endlessly, and slept with him every day since she was born, twiddling his stupidly long ears as she drifted off. He’s a sad looking character, bought in the second hand shop in Andratx for the paltry sum of a euro back when I was heavily pregnant and we were shopping for cheap baby stuff to get ready for the big event. People couldn’t really decide what he was: a teddy with unnaturally elongated ears, a rabbit? No, he’s her perrito. And he’s gone. Muneça down, missing in action.
I’m devastated. I still have my first toy, a (now) three legged lamb, missing vital parts of its anatomy, and fur, and I always imagined Gidg would keep Leo forever as a reminder of her childhood.
We have recreated the scene: we last remember Gigi having him at the Port Andratx ice cream parlour, where Gigi always, without fail, has the strawberry sorbet because it looks the most exciting, and then makes sure that she also gets to eat everyone else’s ice creams as well. We’ve turned out both cars in the hope he’ll be lurking underneath. We’ve postered the Port, with a heartrending image of the odd little stuffed dog. Nothing. I find myself peering into building sites, and dark corners of car parks hoping to catch a glimpse of a long brown ear or his dirty beige fur.
If there were only a Missing Stuffed Toy helpline we could leave our details with; perhaps he’s tried to contact us and can’t get home.
The thing is Gidg hasn’t really noticed Leo’s gone, except when she sees a photograph of him, and then longingly repeats his name, which is heartbreaking. She has a stable of underused teddies, dolls, giraffes, monkeys, she’s even got a polar bear; and they are now all getting their share of affection and taking turns at being her bedtime companion as we read yet again The Tiger Who Came To Tea´.
But I haven’t quite relinquished the search, I’m not ready to let go of her first toy,
I’ve comforted myself with the idea that Leo is the stuffed toy equivalent of the dog from the 80’s TV show ‘The Littlest Hobo’, this friendly creature would come and stay for a while, sort out a family and its problems and then move on to his next good deed.
So wherever you are Leo, good luck, keep your ears clean, and thank you for the memories.