Emotions have been running high this month at the home of Jamie and Erica DeSpain, with their oldest daughter, Hadley, starting kindergarten.
The 5-year-old found comfort in taking her beloved stuffed cat, Sofia, to school with her. But last week after drop-off, Jamie DeSpain realized Hadley had left the cat in the family’s van.
Rather than disrupt his daughter’s day by returning to the school, DeSpain took some inspiration from the classic children's book, "Flat Stanley," and packed Sofia in his briefcase for a day of work, documenting each task with a photo.
“I kind of have a goofy streak and Hadley really appreciates goofiness,” Jamie DeSpain, who lives in Madison, Alabama, told TODAY Parents. “Combine that with her love for stuffed animals...[it] made for the perfect dad setup.”
DeSpain, a project manager and U.S. Army Reservist, captured photos of Sofia answering phone calls, checking e-mails, preparing slides for a presentation, enjoying a coffee break, and of course, looking longingly for Hadley out the window.
“I knew the giggles from Hadley would be well worth the weird looks I got when my coworkers saw me taking pictures of a cat on a keyboard,” he said.
After each of Sofia’s activities, DeSpain texted his wife, Erica, a photo with a short caption of what Sofia had accomplished.
“Hadley will LOVE this,” Erica replied to the initial text.
Sure enough, when DeSpain walked into their home later that night, their daughter beamed at Sofia’s day out.
“I did this because I could almost predict what her reaction would be down to the exact giggle and smile,” the dad of three girls shared.
The only problem with Sofia’s day of adventuring was that Hadley assumed her stuffed dog, Mocha, was jealous and needed a day out as well.
“When Hadley came bursting into the kitchen with Mocha, asking me to take him into work, there was no way I could say no,” he said..
So, the next morning, DeSpain loaded up Mocha the stuffed dog to catalog more adventures at his workplace.
It’s not the first time adults have gotten creative with the travels of forgotten stuffed animals. In 2015, a stuffed tiger named Hobbes went on an adventure after his owner, Owen, accidentally left him behind in Tampa International Airport. Before Hobbes returned home, a creative airport operations manager took the plush tiger around the facility, documenting each portion of the adventure and later presenting a book of photos to the family.
“Sending Hadley off to kindergarten has been a big transition for us as a family, but this activity reminded us that she’s still little,” Erica DeSpain said.. “We want to soak up that childlike wonder as much as we can, and this activity was a great way to do just that.”