This is Mister Puffy Coat.
No, not the growing boy in the coat, but the coat itself.
It has a name.
Mister Puffy Coat is a member of our family. Three short years ago, I brought Mister Puffy Coat home. He was quite big on Chops (my son's nickname) at the time, but like all kids, Chops grew…and as he grew, Mister Puffy Coat became more than just a coat.
At first, it was all very innocent. Mister Puffy Coat would, like any regular coat, keep Chops warm and dry. I’m not really sure when Mister Puffy Coat made the leap from innocuous weather gear to actual friend, but a bond was forged as he and Chops went many places together…to school...playing in the tree house…and even camping. On one particular trip, Mister Puffy Coat even saved Chop's behind from being baptized in bear poop, and, like any best friend, didn’t even complain about being soiled.
Chops was happy. Mister Puffy Coat was a good friend. All was right with the world.
Until last week.
You see, Mister Puffy Coat is now two sizes too small for my growing boy. He is dingy and torn, and in one of his pockets lie the sticky remains of a package of gum that has gone through the dryer. But in spite of his battered appearance, Chops and Mister Puffy Coat continued their games of hide and seek, chase the coat, (Mister Puffy Coat not always taking the role of coat, mind you--) and freeze tag. While waiting for my daughter to get out of school, I watched in the rearview mirror as Chops climbed over the back seat, threw Mister puffy Coat over, then chased after him. It made me laugh. Then it made me wonder if we need to invest in some toys for the kid so he doesn’t have to play with his clothes for entertainment…
Anyway, while shopping last week, I came across a new coat. I brought it home and my husband (not being aware of this affection for Mister Puffy Coat, or that it even had a name) told Chops to throw his coat in the donate bag. At this point, true to 7 year old form, Chops had a meltdown, as would any one of you if your dad told you to throw your best friend in the trash, and wrapped himself around Mister Puffy Coat never to let go.
Friends, I wish I had more compassion.
I wish I scooped Chops up in my arms and told him that Mister Puffy Coat is going to a ’better place’--a place filled with down and gortex and inclement weather, where puffy coats are honored and revered for just being who they are: coats.
Instead, I laughed.
I laughed so hard I fell to the floor.
I laughed until I cried.
And when I was done laughing, I began laughing some more.
I laughed and laughed and laughed…only to look up and see my family staring blankly at me, like a Doctor looks at the crazy man locked up in a padded cell, or like parents looking at a 7 year old who plays with coats.
I took a deep breath.
And a compromise came to mind.
* * *
Mister Puffy Coat now hangs with honor in the mudroom, ready to play, like a faithful companion, at a moments notice. He is washed and cleaned (except for the gum--). Chops is wearing his new coat to school everyday without complaint.
And this morning on the way to school, he turned to me and said, “Guess what Mom? I named my new coat…his name is…"
(Wait for it…)
“Mister Puffy Puffy Coat!”
Welcome to the family.
What kind of crazy things did you play with as a child?
What about your own kids?