Hunting for Dolly’s comforter has become an almost daily nightmare. There is a particular tone of voice that gets used for ‘I can’t find Rabbit' ('Ducky' in Betty's case), which chills both Tom and I to the bone. There is something absolutely excruciating about looking for what is effectively a rag, but also so precious to my children that they can’t bear to be without it, though not quite precious enough for them to keep safe.
Last night’s search for Rabbit was particularly fraught since it was the second time it had happened. Betty’s school play had been due to start (she was supposed to be a medieval villager but looked more like a Turkish fortune teller) at the precise moment when the first rabbit loss had taken place. We managed to find it in time, but all I could think about, while sitting there trying to make sense of Betty’s headgear, and conceal my sweat patches, was a cool glass of cider.
When we got home from the school, Tom waltzed off to Tai Chi and I was confronted with yet another loss of the rabbit - and it was well past the girls' bedtime. Desperate for some peace, I frantically searched the house and garden. I still hadn’t had my cider, I was hot and tired, and it all became too much for me, so I decided to burst into tears. Soon Dolly joined in.
For a while Betty tried to keep the peace. She offered to draw some pictures of the rabbit and make some posters to stick on trees to see if anyone had seen it, offering a reward. I momentarily stopped crying to give her a hug, and tell her gently that I didn’t think that this would help, then I started crying again, which made Betty cry.
I was about to phone Tom and tell him to haul himself away from his yin yang fish sequence and get home and help me, when I suddenly unearthed the rabbit from under a red cushion, where Dolly had left it for safekeeping after the first rabbit hunt. We laughed through our tears, so it was a nice moment, but my god was it hard-won.
Later that evening Tom was about to get into bed when he started yelling about cramp so bad that it ‘felt like a torn muscle’. As I watched him hopping around the room, grimacing like a fatally wounded frog, I heard a little voice through the monitor saying: ‘I can’t find Ducky.’