Saturday, September 8, 2007

Mooed change

Ladybug adores our cats, both of whom she lovingly calls Tee-Tude. She’ll try to cuddle up against them, stroke their fur and kiss their ears. But one too many bops on the head from Ladybug have made the cats a bit gun shy. When they see Ladybug coming, they usually run and hide just out of her reach. When that happens, Ladybug sighs a frustrated “oh!” and goes about her way.

But today we may have accidentally solved that problem. While my husband and father went to Bass Pro Shops to buy their guy toys, my mother, Ladybug and I headed to the real toy store to get a jump on Christmas shopping.

We used Ladybug’s stroller as a shopping cart and let Ladybug run up and down the aisles picking out what she wanted – a plastic bowling pin set, a shopping cart filled with fake food, Play-Doh. And then the perfect gift found her: a mooing, walking, tail-wagging cow. It was one of the display toys and it bumped into Ladybug as she rounded a corner.

The fact that Ladybug didn’t burst into tears is quite remarkable. She has been afraid of cows since she was about three months old and I brought home a mooing cow rattle from a diaper run. From that point on, every time she saw a cow, her bottom lip would quiver, her cheeks would flush and she’d burst out crying.

Her fear of cows has forced us to ban one of the Baby Einstein DVDs on farm animals, and we have to guide her hand away from the cow icon on her toy keyboard lest she accidentally hit it and send the bovine into a mooing rendition of “Old MacDonald Had a Farm.”

But when that cow in the toy store hit Ladybug’s leg, she picked it up and hugged it. She carried it throughout the store and snuggled her head against its head. My mom ended up buying it for Ladybug, and the cow kept her company throughout lunch. It stayed by her side all night while she pretended to give it water and stroked its fur and kissed its ears.

And then we understood.

As Ladybug leaned in to put her face against the cow’s nose, we heard her whisper: “Tee-Tude."

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