Anyone who knows J will know he has a "thing" about tigers. It started when he was a baby - Grandma P brought him a tiger soft toy, because Daddy P had one when he was a child that went everywhere with him, and it became his constant companion and travelled everywhere with us. Sadly he lost it, and despite me buying an identical replacement he never took to that replacement as well as he took to the replacement tiger that Grandma P brought, which was a bit different but apparently preferable!
Well, due to his "thing" with tigers, he has amassed quite a few of them (the soft, cuddly kind, not the wild animal, roaring kind!) Grandma P brought him a special one on his first day of school, a small one to go in his book bag and keep him company during the day, and as he's got older "school tiger" (as he is affectionately known) has become a very calming influence on J. When he feels he is becoming overwhelmed ("whirly" as he calls it) he will go to his locker and fuss "school tiger" and it helps calm him down and ground him again, and he finds he can concentrate better again.
On Thursday, J decided that "school tiger" needed to guard the lockers. So instead of being safely inside his book bag, inside his locker, the tiger was left on top of the lockers. All the kids in his year and the year above troop through this room, all the lockers are in there, so needless to say it was only a matter of time before it went missing. At some point after lunch (when his teacher noticed it on top of the lockers and put it back into his locker) J put the tiger on top of the lockers again and it disappeared. After school Thursday he went looking for it and couldn't find it. I spoke with the SENCO on Friday morning and explained about the tiger disappearing, she said she'd let J's teacher know and they'd have a look about. On Friday afternoon his teacher called to say she'd pulled apart the locker room and the classroom and couldn't find it anywhere.
Needless to say this caused panic for me. How would he react. What would he do? How would he cope without being able to go to "school tiger" for reassurance during the day? He has countless others that he *could* take to school with him, but none of them are official "school tiger" that Grandma P had got him specially to take to school, so knowing J none of them would be quite the same as having "school tiger" there. As we were going to the circus on Friday evening, J was distracted enough that he didn't mention it when he got home from school. On Saturday I panicked quietly wondering what I could do to ensure the safe return of the tiger as quickly as possible. Eventually I put messages on local Facebook selling pages and my own page asking for help from any other parents of children at the school. People were understanding, helpful, asked their kids, but every response I got back was "no, sorry, no news" and I was Googling like crazy looking for images that showed the same type of tiger that "school tiger" is so I could post it to show people what we were looking for. I couldn't find anything.
Then, this morning, I got a message from my friend R. Her daughter, K, has been good friends with J since they started nursery school. The message soothed me immediately. "Tell him not to panic" it read "K found tiger and he's at home with us. I'll bring him into school tomorrow morning." Well, thank heavens for that. Thank heavens that, although a hard lesson to learn, maybe J now understands a bit better that he can't leave his property out in the open where anyone can see it and it can go missing. We've explained it a million times but it doesn't sink in. He's so innocent in that way - because he wouldn't move something that belonged to someone else, he doesn't understand why anyone else would. It doesn't occur to him that someone else might take a shine to it and take it home themselves; that someone else might find it funny to hide it or that someone else might just dump it in the bin because they could. Thank heavens that, despite the fact we didn't know until this morning, K had seen it and knew it belonged to J and had the sense to pick it up and take it home to keep it safe. We didn't see her on Thursday after school and I didn't see her on Friday at drop-off, then my mum went to pick-up.
Thank heavens that, due to the circus distraction and afterwards the exhaustion on Friday night, J didn't worry about it a lot. I was prepared for hysteria, tears, meltdowns - fortunately we avoided that. Now that we are getting "school tiger" back tomorrow, there won't be any hysteria, tears or meltdowns about his whereabouts in the future. I have made it abundantly clear to J that under no circumstances is "school tiger" allowed to sit on top of the lockers on guard duty.
Tomorrow when "school tiger" gets home from school, I am taking a photo of him ... Just in case he ever decides he fancies a weekend away again in the future!