The Train Analogy That Will Completely Change How You See Your Crying Child

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My 4-year-old was climbing into bed, his face turned away from me and toward the wall, when he asked the question.

“Where’s Glenn?”

His tone made the question sound like an afterthought, but I know better. Glenn is the opposite of an afterthought; he’s the tiger lovey blanket my son has been carting around with him since he was old enough to maintain a tight grasp. 

My husband offered to head back downstairs to search, and I absently commented that I actually hadn’t seen Glenn around that evening, which was unusual.

At that, my son slowly turned around to face me but without making eye contact, his mind racing. His eyes were fixed on some background point as his mouth twisted and turned with each darting thought. They met mine only as he realized it, his shoulders straightening and his back growing taller as the panic scaled him. 

Finally, the shout: “I left Glenn in the back of Gigi’s car!!!”


Gigi, of course, was one state away by this point, which means we were facing my son’s first night since he was an infant—the first night ever in his little memory—without Glenn curled up in the crook of his arm.

Oh, sure, we’d lost Glenn before, but he’d always been found before bedtime, even if sometimes it required what felt like hours of searching. And then there was the time my son held him out the car window and accidentally let go, so Glenn spent a bit of time playing chicken on the yellow lines of a busy street. 

But still, there had never been a bedtime without Glenn.

The initial shock was, of course, followed by electric currents of anger that coursed through my son’s little body. He punched the air and gritted his teeth and screamed, “I WILL NOT SLEEP WITHOUT GLENN! I WILL NOT GO TO BED UNTIL HE’S HERE! I WILL NOT GO TO BED EVER AGAIN!” More punching, more gritting, a few angry flops onto the floor. 

At this point my husband had returned from his futile search, and was looking at me for direction. How are we handling this one, mama? 

I don’t know if the look I shot back reflected confidence, wisdom, and clarity, but believe it or not, that’s what I felt.

Because right when I needed it most, I remembered the train analogy.

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