I Miss My Summer-Camping Kid

Good thing I can walk around with her stuffed animal in my purse

I have a dingy, blind farm animal in my purse, and I feel completely ridiculous. My child is at sleep-away camp, and I’ve decided to play “roaming gnome” with her favorite stuffed animal, Baa Baa.

For some reason she has not managed to outgrow this dirty-looking thing. The eyes fell out years ago. It was originally white, but is now an indefinable shade of smog. It may have once been a Beanie Baby, but the tag became undecipherable about eight years ago, so we couldn’t buy an emergency backup when we realized how attached to it she was. I can’t believe it hasn’t died of a slow leak, literally spilling all the beans, in the washer.

About a year ago I’d had enough of seeing it. I banned it from the dinner table and later banished it to the bedroom. I’m not really that punitive, but the silly thing had a habit of disappearing and causing quite a lot of drama at bedtime when our daughter apparently needs this companion. When she went to camp, I insisted it stay home. I didn’t want some poor teenage counselor to have to deal with the trouble of it being missing at bedtime or—even worse—killed. I don’t think they’re equipped for that at camp. Homesickness? Yes. Dead Baa Baa? Definitely not. She was okay with that and took the second-string Froggy instead. Did I mention we’re really creative at naming our stuffed animals?[SIGNUP]

Which brings us to my purse-cum-farm animal carrier. Once my daughter was gone, I quickly realized how much I missed her. The house was so empty. I polished silver, ironed things and decided to tackle her closet. Then I spotted Baa Baa. I decided it would be hilarious to give her a photo essay of Baa Baa’s vacation without her. The sheep is a big joke in our house. Nothing makes her laugh harder than when we call him—her? gender is unclear—a smelly filthy farm animal. I think she will be shocked and delighted to see that we took Baa Baa on the road. Just watch, I’ll be the one to lose him!

So far we have taken pictures of Baa Baa reading the menu at a restaurant while sitting next to the bread basket; Baa Baa poolside on a chaise reading a Nancy Drew with a lemonade; Baa Baa riding the shopping cart at the grocery store; and Baa Baa at Bloomingdales. I think Baa Baa might hit a concert and even a weekend at the Chesapeake before we’re done. I’d really love to get Baa Baa smoking, drinking and playing craps. Maybe we’ll save those pictures for the slideshow at her bachelorette party—when she’ll undoubtedly still have Baa Baa. Meanwhile, that sheep and I are hitting the town. Maybe we’ll get it a tattoo, like the stuffed monkey in that car commercial. Then when my daughter gets home from camp, Baa Baa can sing, “How you like me now?”