I feel like I've had my first big Mommy failure. Max lost elephant at the mall today. Elephant #1. I've been careful lately to not let elephants out of the house, but Tony picked up Max to strap him in the car and he still had elephant. I thought about saying something, but I didn't. We've taken him out before (sometimes both of them) and it's always worked out, though we've had some close calls (left behind at a couple of stores, but I've always managed to find him). This time it didn't work out.
I had to get some new glasses because I lost my old ones somewhere in the house. Or maybe Max did; I don't know...they're just gone. And since Tony is off to London again this week, I really needed some new glasses so I could drive while he was gone. So while I was in VisionWorks at Hawthorne Mall, Tony was on Max duty. They played around the store for a while and then went on to the playground area. Me, I had my eye exam and looked for frames and got my eyes dilated.
On the way back to the car, I said "Where's Elephant?" assuming that he had wound up in Tony's pocket like he usually does. But Tony didn't have him. And he wasn't in the car. We got home and called iHop (where we'd had breakfast) and I called the mall where (prophetically) they told me that they didn't have Elly in the lost and found box but that they "threw away any dirty stuffed animals" that they found. Which, by the way, is evil. Because the loved ones? They're the dirty ones. If they are sparkling clean and new? Those aren't the loveys. The loveys are LOVED.
I also called the bookstore since Tony had gone in there and Delia's, since Tony had said that Max kept going in there because he liked to walk through their sign. But no go.
We had to go back to the mall to pick up my glasses, so we did that on the way to the airport. We drove through the parking lot slowly and checked out the aisle we had parked in and two more for good measure. No Elephant. The Max was asleep, so Tony stayed with him out in the car while I went in to pick up my glasses.
While I was waiting for my turn, I saw a security guard standing outside the store (and, according to the people on the phone earlier, mall security is in charge of the lost and found), so I asked the fellow if anyone had turned in an elephant. A guy who happened to be standing nearby taking surveys goes "A floppy grey elephant?" and for a minute I was very excited. It turns out Max must have left it on the post right outside the VisionWorks store while he and Tony had been playing around. The guy had propped it up on the post and left it there, but then later had seen a maintenance worker pick it up.
So I cornered a maintenance guy who was nearby, but he had no idea (and it wasn't him, anyway, but some other taller maintenance guy). The security guy was also no help. I had to get back to the car to get Tony to the airport, so I left. I was also, honestly, a wee bit of a wreck because a) I read The Velveteen Rabbit far too many times as a child and b) Max had already had one major meltdown at home when he figured out he had not two elephants, but one and the elephant he did have was not THE elephant. Backup elephant has always been backup elephant, even though he's loved carrying both around. Tony can't tell the difference, but Max and I can.
Tony doesn't get why I'm so upset, but he calls the mall again on the way to the airport but just asks if anyone has turned in the elephant (a question I already know the answer to) even though I tell him the new info. He just thinks Max will "live" and be fine. And, yes, I know that's true but that's not the point.
When we get back home I call again and explain to the concierge desk lady the situation. At first she tells me there are no maintenance people working today and then she's just confused. Ultimately, they say they'll look again and call me back. They do, about five minutes later, and no elephant. Which I expected by this point. They obviously threw him away.
It pains me to write that. Maybe I'm silly, I don't know. But Elephant has been there for Max for his whole life and has comforted him through bruises and bumps and nightmares and who knows what else. His trunk and hands were turned yellow from Max sucking on them when a binky just wouldn't do. He called him Elly, when the two elephants together where "Ants!" -- but Elephant was always Elly. I thought he'd have Elly his whole life and be able to sit him on a shelf someday and chuckle fondly at how raggedy he'd grown over the years. Maybe sneak him off to college because he just couldn't bear to leave him behind.
Elephant just wasn't something that should ever be thrown away.
I'm sorry, Max. I'm sorry, Elly. This time I failed.