Finslippy has a nice post about a bittersweet situation all parents go through at one time or another: RIP, Minty Bear.
I have three boys, and three similar stories to tell. Floppy Bunny was lost, then found (dismembered in the street), replaced by Funny Bunny. Blue Blankie had a better life: it was left in a vacation hotel once but was found and returned by the proprietor, and is still with us, though long outgrown.
Superman, a Burger King toy, was misplaced on a sandy beach, and the family had a harder time with the loss than the child did. A identical replacement (thank you, eBay!) was deemed uninteresting, and he moved on. Now after years of loyal service, Blue Beary has just been moved to a shelf.
Each of these love objects held a special place in our boys' and our hearts. Dealing with their loss, whether temporary or permanent, accidental or developmental, was a moving experience. Either the boy suffers (as Minty Bear's Henry did), or simply grows up and wanders away. Moving books have been written about just such attachments (The Velveteen Rabbit was a staple in our house for a long time), but they don't capture just what it means to your own child.