Monday, January 19, 2009


Nap time

When Oliver was 10 days old he was given a toy by his God-parents David and Susan. A rather simple, woollen dog from the Grannimals range. He came pre-named: "Julien". At 12 inches high he was an unassuming, modest character. Much less ostentatious than many of the other fluffy toys Oliver had received on his arrival.

I had no idea how important Julien was to become.

We used to give him Julien to go to bed. But he was just one of several toys in his cot and they were all out of his reach anyway. Then when Oliver was still quite young we decided to wean him off his dummy. In place of his dummy we gave him Julien as a comfort. At nap time, to get to sleep, instead of sucking on the dummy, Oliver would hug and bite the nose of Julien. It was the same at night.

From then on, Julien was no longer a nice toy, he was essential! Panic would break out if he couldn't be found. We quickly realised that a substitute Julien was needed. But we couldn't get one in the UK anywhere. The only one we could get was a smaller, 7inch version. And so "Little Julien" arrived and the original Julien gradually came to be known as "Big Julien". (In hindsight this now sounds like a character from a gangster movie. "Oh and who's that", asks a stranger of Oliver. "Big Julien" he replies. "Oh..." says the stranger backing away nervously.)

For a while all was well. Oliver was happy with either Big Julien or Little Julien, though the former was preferable. But eventually it had to be Big Julien in his cot at night. At this point we asked friends in Connecticut to bring over another big Julien when they came to visit!

And so we now had two Big Juliens! And when the real Big Julien was left somewhere we simply substituted the other one. Perfect! And all was well with the world.


A couple of months ago ago after Oliver had left the real Big Julien at a playgroup we quickly produced his double. But then Oliver came home with the real Julien and his double was still in the living room. Suddenly I heard "Look, look Mummy, TWO Juliens!!!!".


So I quickly explained that this was Julien's cousin Julius (wow what originality) who had come to visit from the USA. And at the end of the day Julius said goodbye to fly home. Phew! A lucky escape. We got away with it.

But then, a few weeks ago, we lost Julien again. Oliver wanted him and was already in his cot for the night, so I quickly grabbed cousin Julius from his hiding place in our room and took him in to Oliver. I handed him to the little man in the gloom and turned away to go downstairs. As I reached the door I heard the dreaded words.

"That's not Big Julien!"

Oh no. What should I do? I know. I'll do what any right-minded decent parent would do.

Lie through my teeth.

"Yes it is, he's had a wash".
"No, it's Julius. It's not Big Julien!"

It was no use. Looking at Julius, even in the dark of Oliver's room it was clear his ears were far less floppy than Julien's. And he was all round Julius was just less worn and less saggy. It was no use. The game was up. I apologised to Oliver for my "mistake" and went searching for Julien who, fortunately, I found.

And so now Julius and Julien can be seen together without fear.


And judging from the way Julien was briefly forgotten with Wall-E's arrival this week, the day will come soon enough when Julien will spend more time just sitting in the corner of Oliver's room. And we'll look back and laugh at the times we scrambled and searched for Julien in a wild panic.

Or rather, we would if it wasn't for the fact we got Lucy a "Big Lucien" the large rabbit Grannimal who she takes to bed every night. And you can't get one of those over here either!