Rebecca was obsessed with Madeline when she was younger. Right around the time she turned two we introduced her to Madeline. I read the book to her morning, noon and night until she could recite it from memory. We had all the books and eventually her love for the books led us to the dolls, plush characters and videos. Rebecca, in her own mind, was Madeline. She would eat, sleep and breathe this little French girl who lived in a house all covered with vines. Her Madeline obsession grew and grew and grew and lasted a good many years. (I was secretly thrilled that she loved the 12 little girls in two straight lines, the youngest being Madeline… I was so happy not to have to deal with overly purplish-pinkish princesses!)
Rebecca instantly fell in love with a little boy character named Pepito. He lived next door, was the son of the Spanish Ambassador. Some called him a Bad Hat. Some simply said that he needed “an outlet for his energy.” I think Rebecca loved his devilish little ways and since he was Madeline’s best friend he grew to be hers too. There was a point and time when Pepito went everywhere with us. Everywhere. Eventually Pepito’s red outfit seemed more grey than red and we decided we should toss the little clothes in to the washing machine. Well, Rebecca would have none of this and could not bear to be a part from Pepito even in her sleep
So Mama went out to the store and bought another Pepito. I hid the doll in my room until it was safe enough to bring it out — ie,when Rebecca was sound asleep. I gently pried the old Pepito from her clutch and quietly, stealthily switched his clothes. I dressed him in the new Pepito’s fresh, clean outfit and slid old Pepito back into Rebecca’s hand.
Quietly, carefully I tip-toed out of her room and placed new Pepito in the back of my dresser drawer. The dirty clothes were placed in a garment bag and sent to the washing machine. When they were cleaned and dried they went into hiding into my drawer as well. This bait and switch act went on for a very long time.
Eventually, as often happens with young children, Rebecca played with Pepito less and less. By the time she was in Kindergarten she had almost stopped playing with him altogether. But new Pepito and the spare set of clothes remained in hiding.
Last summer I was rummaging through my drawers and located the old new Pepito and the spare set of clothes. It brought back a flood of memories and really made me chuckle. Rebecca heard me and I decided to let her in on the secret. She loved it!
Well, I must have missed something last summer as I found Pepito’s pants in my drawer. It was a nice thing to have found.