“Old teddy bears are pretty gross. They’re all raggedy and worn out.”
Yeah, how ’bout no. As a girl who spent a solid 90% of her childhood in the company of the stuffed, I can personally say this will never be me. My stuffed animals, and I had quite the collection in my prime, were my best outlet for my terminal condition: Over-Active Imagination. (Needless to say I’m still struggling with this reality-threatening “illness”.) My doctor, Aapa, (the giant stuffed dog) thinks I should stop fighting it and embrace it. He says I should make my condition a strength instead of a weakness. He also says I should start having actual conversations with, you know, like, real people? But hey, one step at a time.
The best part of stuffed animals is that they will never break your heart. Our parents, friends, cousins, brothers, sisters, and everybody we love will eventually let us down. There’s always that one Christmas present we didn’t get, that one friend who kicked you when you were down, that one secret your parents kept when they were trying to protect you. Our favorite stuffed animal was always the one who was there for us. Yes, obviously our parents and family and those who love us were also there, but through the eyes of a child, our best bet for good therapy was grabbing our stuffed monkey (Bongo, for the record) and heading out back.
I look forward to the day when I bring my own small human home and bestow unto it my old friend, the stuffed monkey. By then, my faithful Bongo will have seen dozens of birthdays, thousands of tears, and maybe a college dorm or two. Sure, his fur will be faded and his tail will probably have been sewn back on a few times, but that’s what makes him so special. No matter how thrashed he got, my mom was always able to fix him. So one day, when my little girl comes running to me in tears holding Bongo in one hand and his tail in the other, I’ll be the one to smile and sew him back together again.
Kids need stability just as much as they need change. They need to be constantly on the move, discovering new things exploring, but they need someone to climb the trees and slide the slides with. Someone just big enough to hold tightly and just small enough to drag along behind them. Someone who will always be there. Every kid needs a stuffed monkey named Bongo to make the trials and tribulations of childhood not so trying. And every teenager should have a ratty stuffed monkey named Bongo to remind them not to grow up too fast.
Don’t forget the glitter- iamtheseventies.