Sunday, August 09, 2009

SUNDAY Column: Remembering My First Friend.

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.



  1. My first best friend was an imaginary bear named Sebastian. He was a space traveler if I remember correctly. I think I got it from a movie, but I cannot find anything anywhere with an astronaut bear.

    My second, and perhaps deepest, snuggly friend is Clyde - a big white stuffed bear. My dad surprised me with him when I had surgery as a child.

    I remember, clear as day, when I told him I scared and he asked if I needed a protector to be with me. Of course I said I did! I was on the bed being rolled into the OR when he pulled him out from under his jacket and gave him to me.

    I know it sounds cheesy, but it is one of my fondest memories. I still sleep with him in my bed, even though I am now 20. I just can't leave him behind.

  2. That's a great story, Katie! :) I can certainly relate.

  3. It was Boo Bear for me! What a great blog, I am having memories of my beloved bear, and also left wondering where he is :(

  4. My first Christmas bear was that for me. He's not in the closet anymore though, I got him out and he now belongs to my son :) He even still plays music!

  5. I still have all my stuffed animals. But yes, they are all put away. Someday I will get them out for my children.

  6. My first friend was a teddy called 'Bear'. You can't really blame me for calling him bear, I was only two after all.

    But Bear wasn't my first best friend. That was Marmelade the ginger cat. I used to think he was the biggest cat in the world!!

    Marmy has been my best friend for as long as I can remember, I'm shared alot of laughs and tears with him - although I've never needed him while I've been in hospital.

    Since I'm only 15, I hope I can hold onto him for a long time yet - hopefully forever!

  7. My best friend (Ted) i received as a baby (When he was bigger than me!) and he knows ~everything~ i couldn't imagine life without him- He sits on my bedroom chair X:-)

  8. Your post make me feel nostalgic on monday morning...
    I guess my first friend was Doraemon doll, the genius cat from Japan that has magical pocket and could give you any types of machine to ease your life. He always laugh and his expression is so sincere. i guess he has been donated to unfortunate child living near my neighborhood...I guess that would be better than to dump them in the attic, rite? So perhaps other children could enjoy having their first friend too..

  9. my first stuffed toy was a bunny. i always slept with it and when my father wasn't at home, i used to dress it with one of my baby sister's clothes. before daddy arrives from work, i always make sure to remove the clothes because i know that he will scold me, asking me yet again if i was gay, and such. (sigh!)

  10. I have a Snoopy plush since I was 5, or younger, I dont really remember, and he still sleeps with me. I'm 25yo now :)

  11. i still have my stuffed toys and my baby blanket! i think i even have a picture on my blog

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  13. The first one I really remember is Moose. That's what I called him. He was an old beat up moose that actually came from a garage sale. I loved that thing. I still have him someone. He's about 26 years old. He's been through a lot with me.

  14. I might still sleep with my childhood blankie. And it's name might be Night Night. : )

  15. Sad to say but i never had 0ne,
    But i wish i did,
    Maybe childh00d pr0blems w0uld been easier..
    :)great blog anyway!


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