It is 8:30 at night on a Sunday. It’s that dreadful time that we call bedtime. Every night, somehow it’s a surprise to my son that we’re supposed to get ready for bed at this hour. So, I proceed to make his bed as he fights off his pajamas. Making his bed would be a quick occurrence, however he has this massive collection of stuffed animals consuming the space. These stuffed animals are his “friends”, and they can not be forgotten. If one gets lost, kicked under the bed or is in the washer, he is aware that it is missing.
When having a boy, I never thought I would have this issue of stuffed animal collecting. It annoys me at times as he will literally cry over them or cause an argument about taking them everywhere he goes. On a daily basis, I have to limit how many friends can come on trips as he wishes to bring them all. At the same time, it sparks my joy to see him with these friends. I try to consider his feelings toward them as I once was just like him.
I used to have this same addiction when I was a child. I had an unbelievable collection of stuffed animals. My parents would take my brothers and I to the local flea market on the weekends and they would buy me a stuffed animal or toy almost every time we went. To adults, they just see used old stuffed animals that some snotty kid grew out of. As a child, I saw them as sad, lonely and abandoned stuffed animals that needed a home. I wanted to save them all, bring them home with me where they can be loved again. I feel as though, I had a similar mentality as Noah of the ark, except I wanted to collect one of each stuffed “animal” and they were solely for myself.
My first stuffed animal was a pink cat with green eyes. I honestly never remember her being pink, because she quickly faded to gray, so I was told. I literally took her everywhere. I finally gave her a name approximately a year later. Her name stemmed from my mother telling me this story about her first dog named Star, and how she loved her. So, there my pink-gray cat was named, Star. Last year, I found Star in my father’s shed and a flow of memories came back to me. I just stared at her in amazement. I couldn’t believe she had still existed. At that moment, I just couldn’t part with her. So, I ended up taking her home with me and my son. I have a corner shelf with famous autographs, my softball trophies and some memorable keepsakes. I decided to place Star in that shelf as a great memorable piece symbolizing my childhood. Looking back, Star was the starting trend of creating this relationship between myself and stuffed animals.
I loved them all. They were also my “friends”. I knew each of their names and I imagined that each of them had their own personality. I was home-schooled and didn’t socialize with others well, sadly, but truthfully they were all I really had, minus my brothers. My brothers and I were pretty close, but whenever I didn’t play with them, my cotton friends were always there for me. I’d imagine my son uses his friends in the same way, especially being an only child.
Even though, at times they can be a hassle for trips and bedtime, I want my son to have them. From an outside perspective, it seems so simple and pointless to have them, but for an emotional and mental level, they are powerful. Ever since I could remember, I have always been a caregiver; always helping others, showing compassion and caring for others. I feel like this caregiver mentality started with the stuffed animals. So there I figure, if that effected me in a positive manor, then I want the same for my son.
It’s such a simple beauty to watch your child interact and create this world with non-moving objects. They’re just wonderful tools for children to use their imagination. These cotton animals show no emotion, yet the child shows compassion, love and care to them anyhow. It just goes to show that love is a natural occurrence that is just inside of us, it’s just how we are wired and built. I refuse to take this kind of love away from my son, until he decides on his own that he has outgrown them. That will possibly be one of the saddest bags to pack up when that time hits…