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How My Hat Came Back to Bite Me

December 22, 2010

I have a special hat. It’s fleecy,  with candy colored stripes running along the perimeter. That’s insouciant enough for some folks — most folks.

But my hat is in the top five percent. Towering on the top of my hat is a, well, I’ve come to realize lately that it’s a rat. For a while I thought it was a bear — its brown round tummy is certainly ursine enough — but the face is distinctly murine. And it’s not just murine, which has a friendly vagueness that could incorporate mice. It’s ratlike. We still call it the Mouse Hat, but there is a slightly stark pointiness to the face. Not a scary, bad pointiness, more of a Ratatouille pointiness, but a pointiness nevertheless.

Anyhow, I love the hat. I consider it my contribution to public mirth. Though I recognize that I could probably use another hat that makes me look more elegant and like an object of desire, for different occasions, I do still love the hat.

How I feel about the hat is nothing compared with how Henry feels. Seeing the hat sends my child over the edge into complete hysteria and delight. And then sometimes, into that jagged zone where the laughter become a sort of desperate and needy crying and rocking back and forth that makes me hope he never experiments with certain substances, because he loses the ability to control himself. God, he loves the hat.

Henry also has his own hat. It’s made by the same person who made my hat. My mother in law gets the hats at an art fair she goes to in Chicago. My son’s hat is a fish and it’s structured so that his face is peeking out of a gaping fish maw wide enough to house the face of a child.

The other day, I was walking to the subway in the extreme cold. It was in the 20s, and the day before my hair had turned to long curlicues of stiff and remarkable ice before I realized what was happening. In an attempt to avoid that happening again, I reached into my large shoulder bag and pulled out the familiar feeling fleecy hat and stuck it on my head without looking at it. It felt funny, though. A moment later I reached up. I felt the goggly eyes of the fish. Not only was I wearing a ridiculous hat, I was wearing a ridiculous hat that is property of a one year old.

Ice crystals. Pride. Ice crystals. Pride. I weighed these things and took off the hat.

After work, I have been coming home and playing a game with Henry. He doesn’t have a baby doll, though I think that he probably should, so we use my Mouse Hat. I turn the lights low, and read to it, and rock it, and then we get a blanket from Henry’s crib and pretend to put the hat to sleep. He rubs its back while I sing “Twinkle.” In other words, we pretend that it is Henry. We tiptoe and whisper and treat it very carefully.

But then a moment later, I pretend that it is me. I turn on the light, and make a lot of noise, and run around, and do whatever possible to wake up the hat, which I’m pretending is really, really tired and refusing to get up. I don’t care; I make it get up. GET UP, MOUSE HAT!

This is a very, very popular game.

Unfortunately, there is a sleep regression happening that might have to do with language acquisition. Henry is judicious in his use of words, but suddenly in one evening of reading he got horse (harsh), bear (bar), and heart (hahrt). And in return for this glorious bounty of new synaptic firings, he couldn’t sleep at all. In the middle of the night, “Daddy ma daddy ma door door door door door door nees nees nees nees nees nees nees nees” which translates to, “Daddy or Ma come in the door and get me this.”

After 10 minutes at 3:30 am we finally relented. What was this? It was the hat. He needs the hat in order to sleep in bed now. I have no one to blame but myself.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Rachel permalink
    December 22, 2010 9:33 pm

    I love everything about this story (except the sleep regression of course). Sweet Henry.

  2. Trisha Margeson permalink
    December 23, 2010 2:32 am

    I concur with Rachel – sweet Henry.

    Jet lag has taken over and I’m up reading Meredith’s blog and happy it is there so early in the morning for me to smile and feel warm inside. Merry Christmas, Meredith’s mouse hat, Henry, Matthew and most of all our author. You have made my day, which will be long, for sure! I will think about this story as I fade this afternoon and smile.

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