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Anyone with toddlers knows that the loss of a favorite blanket can become a grandma’s nightmare.  But not for this grandma, not if I could help it.

Last week my husband and I babysat, actually babyran, our two youngest grandchildren for four days. Eighty-seven hours. Numbers wise, they are our fourth and fifth grandchildren. G4 is a sweet gal at three, G5 is all boy at two.

Out for a run, surveying the aftermath of damage from an ice storm

Out for a run, surveying the aftermath of damage from an ice storm

Our term of office ran smoothly—the play times of coloring, making puzzles, reading books, and jaunting a mile to the backyard swing set; the meal times with Spaghettios, blackberries, green beans, barbecued ribs, grapes, and raisin bread; and nap and bedtimes UNTIL… You guessed it. The bedtime on the third night when G5’s blankee went AWOL. Come with me to experience this scene:

Grandma puts G5 to bed and discovers four of the usual blankets in the crib, but the fifth most cherished blanket is absent. Grandma offers the one blanket that is similar in texture to G5. G5 launches his body to standing position, grabs on to the crib rails, and sends out a clarion call: “Blankee, blankee, blankee.”

G4, who stands alongside the crib with Grandma, says, “I find it. I find it” and begins opening and closing the six drawers of a dresser that once served as her mom’s baby dresser. Unfinished from Sears, still painted white with blue drawers.

Grandma peers over G4’s shoulders. “Where could it have gone?”

G4: “I don’t know, Gramma. I find it.” She takes off for her room and begins a similar search. Grandma follows, stopping at the doorway of G5’s room to say, “Don’t worry, buddy, Grandma will find your blankee. I will be right back.” G5’s voice reduces to a plaintive plea, “Blankee, blankee, blankee.”

Grandma proceeds to inspect every nook, cranny, drawer and closet of three bedrooms and two baths.

G4: “Maybe it’s downstairs, Gramma. I go find it.” Grandma and G4 sing their way downstairs: “Oh where, oh where, has the blankee gone, oh where, oh where has it gone?”

In the kitchen, Grandpa, after making a gourmet dinner of leftovers (Spaghettios preferred  by G5 as a sauce over canned peaches), is doing dishes.  Grandma says: “We have a serious problem. G5’s favorite blanket is not in his crib.”

Grandpa: “Doesn’t he have others?”

Grandma, a bit exasperated, says: “Yes, of course. But I know he won’t settle down unless he has his favorite one.” Grandpa dries his hands and joins the search. Grandpa follows Grandma and searches the same areas because Grandma’s been known to miss things that Grandpa later finds. No cupboard or closet is left untouched in the remaining two levels of the house, including at least twenty toy containers. Lots of books, Fisher Price people, blocks, sequined dresses and tiaras, and stuffed animals, but no blankee.

When the search appears futile, Grandpa heads out the door and begins the mile trek out to the swing set that has a playhouse on top. Before dinner, the kids had been climbing ladders and yelling “El-low-ow” ” and “Hi-i-i-i-i-“ from the little house while Grandma sat, exhausted, in a plastic Adirondack chair she’d dragged out there from the porch. In response, Grandma sang back, “Hello” and “Hi”, with a happy grin that matched the grins of the delighted grandchildren.  Had they dragged the blankee out there without her noticing?

When Grandpa was halfway to the swing set, Grandma called from the kitchen, “Honey, I found it.” The joy in her voice was palpable.

And where do you think the blankee was? Just where you’d expect to find a missing blankee! Stuffed into the dishtowel drawer next to the refrigerator in the kitchen.

Grandma calls to G4 who is checking behind the couch in the living room, “G4, Grandma found the blankee.” G4 comes running.

Grandma, standing by the culprit drawer, asks: “How do you suppose the blankee got in this dish towel drawer?”

G4: “I don’t know.” She shrugs her shoulders, eyes bright and wide. “Maybe wash?”

The logic or cunning of a toddler. Grandma knew better than to ask Grandpa if he, in cleaning up the kitchen, had stuffed the coveted blanket in the dishtowel drawer. She thought he’d recognize that a large, square, fleece, baseball/soccer ball/football print blanket would not be a dishtowel. She knew G5 was not tall enough to have done the deed. Could she have done it herself? Even though her marbles were thoroughly scrambled by this third night, she didn’t think she would have done it.

So it had to be G4. She was a “big helper” when it came to picking up. And the kids were known to play house with the dishtowels, draping them over each shelf of a multi-shelved curio cabinet, shelves emptied to save any knickknacks from inadvertently becoming toys.

G4 asks: “I bring it? I bring it?” Grandma gives the blanket to G4 and together they spring up the stairs and skip to G5’s bedroom where he stands sadly in his crib. When he spots the blanket, his face lights up so adoringly that Grandma’s heart skips a beat, dangerous at her age of seventy-one, but worth it for that endearing look.

G4 throws the blanket over the crib side. G5 grabs it, drops to his knees, clutches the blanket to his chest, falls face down on the mattress, haunches still in the air, and with a cherubic grin on his face, says, “Nigh nigh.”

Grandma smiles inside, turns on the vaporizer, switches on the Mozart CD, pulls the blinds, and turns out the light. As she and G4 leave the room, Grandma turns, “Night night, buddy, Grandma loves you. See you tomorrow. Just one more day till Mommy and Daddy come home.”

None too soon, Grandma thinks, knowing why people have their kids when they’re young.