Maybe it was a snuggly teddy bear named Teddy. Maybe it was a tiny turtle named Freddy. Or maybe it was even a large dinosaur named Rexy.
We all had that stuffed animal when we were kids -- you know, the one you could tell your secrets to, the one you had tea parties with, the one you snuggled in bed with at night. And of course, the one you had to carry everywhere. It didn’t matter where you went. Your best friend was firmly affixed to your hip. He (or she, of course) was your best friend.
I’ve been thinking a lot about childhood lately (I suppose that’s what turning 28 will do to you), and I can’t help but wonder: Do these stuffed animals/security blankets of youth really outlive their usefulness by the time we graduated from those tiny cubbies and tot-sized chairs of elementary school?
For me, her name was Emma. Being an '80s child, of course she was a Cabbage Patch Kid. She even sort of looked like me - beautiful hair, big glowing smile and those ever-stylish oversized specs. She was my constant companion, especially during those scary - and sometimes lonely - hospital stays. Once when I had surgery and had casts on both legs, my doctor (the awesome orthopedic doctor I've had since I was a year old) put identical casts on Emma's legs.
She still has them to this day - Chicago Bulls casts, if I remember correctly. We were even the same down to the casts on our legs. Like two peas in a pod. Through all those doctor visits and hospital stays, she was with me. It was the sort of comfort I couldn’t have received from any old Cabbage Patch Kid. I thought she was sent just for me – I, of course, ignored the fact that my parents bought her at the store and probably just chose the first one they saw. But, no. As I saw it, she was meant for me. And, I was meant for her.
Maybe you have a similar tale. But then somewhere along the way, you grow up And sometimes, you trick yourself into believing that you’ve grown out of love with your plushy pal. You’re an adult now, after all, big and stronger and independent. You don’t need some useless child’s toy dragging you down.
This is precisely why I feel very sorry for these soft creatures who end up shoved into closets, locked in toy chests, thrown carelessly into the depths of the basement and the worst of all, sold at garage sales.
I’m not sure about you, but I don’t want to live in a world where we’re forced to cast aside our best friends for fear of being mocked, ridiculed or deluged with shame. Our “first friends” meant something to us then. And they should still mean something to us now. Sometimes you just need a reminder of that innocent love you had for them – a love that wasn’t predicated on anything, an unconditional “I’ll-always-be-there-for-you” unspoken (obviously unspoken by said doll) understanding.
So I’m going to make the long journey into the back of my closet this week. Emma rescued me so long ago. I think it’s time I returned the favor. I hope you’ll remember your special days and do the same.