"If you stop sucking your thumb…" I said to my daughter twenty-five years ago. She sucked her thumb harder and held onto her koala puppet Qantas and another toy koala named Laurie. Jean said they were engaged. She looked at me knowingly. I had to come up with a serious offer to get her to release that thumb. "Then," I said, "I will make Laurie a bride's dress and she and Qantas can get married." "He needs a tuxedo," Jean said. "Deal." Out came the thumb. Permanently. Now came the dilemma. I am so not a sewer. It took me an entire year to finish my apron in 7th grade Home Ec. I got a fan letter from a reader who said her grandmother thought she'd been my home ec teacher. I wrote back and said, please tell your grandma I'm sorry.
I struggled with that bridal gown because Laurie was a mechanical koala who sang when you pressed her stomach, and had a big head. "She needs a veil," Jean said. I tried to point out that lots of brides didn't have veils, but Jean was resolute. "And flowers." It was either my greatest moment as a mother, or one of my most desperate. I found little dried flowers and wrapped them into a bouquet, I hand-sewed the white dress and put lace around the sleeves. I made Qantas a very dapper snap-on tuxedo tie while Jean began gathering all her stuffed animals for the ceremony. And you know these guest lists always get out of control. Then there was the reception to think about. Finally, all the arrangements were as good as they were going to get. Qantas and Laurie stood in front of either a kangaroo, moose, or rabbit stuffie (I can't remember which was the minister), who I had say, "I now pronounce you man and wife. You may kiss the bride." Jean made a face and had them hug instead. It was a very moving ceremony. We had punch and cookies and after all the guests had left, I lay down on the couch, closed my eyes, and Jean said, "Let's do it again." "Believe me," I told her, "it took."
Qantas and Laurie are in a Zip-loc bag in the back of our closet still in their wedding attire. I came upon them the other day. The years haven't been easy on them, but they were great and noble toys, worked hard at their relationship, and were, above all, awfully good sports.