I’m forty-one, but I have a toy donkey. Her name is Harriet. I purchased her for the simple reason that she was irresistibly cute, sitting there on the shelf with those huge eyes and tiny hooves. The kids were completely enthralled. Mom got herself a cuddly toy. Wow.
My daughter reacted by crafting Harriet a collar. Both my kids occasionally ask for her to be allowed to sleep in their beds. Whenever that happens, I get at least one of their toys in exchange, so I won’t feel lonely. Sometimes that gets a little out of hand, either because they can’t stop themselves, or because they forget to take them back. It’s a miracle I find space fore my husband, not to mention the real dog and cats, seeing as we’re currently at three unicorns, a kangaroo, and a monkey. Apparently Mom’s personal toy is special enough to warrant that many hostages to guarantee her safe return. But I’m getting side-tracked.
Thing is, ever since I let Harriet into my life, she’s been a faithful companion. Not only does she watch my sleep, she also goes on adventures with me and provides a little bit of home wherever I roam. So far, she’s been on family holidays to Vienna and the North Sea, but, more importantly, she also accompanies me when I go on no-family trips with my soulmate, like when we went to Amsterdam last September – much to the initial embarrassment of said soulmate, who took to her rather quickly, though, eventually picked the best settings for donkey photos, and in the end didn’t bat an eyelid when Harriet wrote a picture postcard to my little boy’s raccoon.
What I’m aiming at is, cuddly toys are, in their own fluffy way, not to be underestimated. They can be comfort or guardian, a much needed secret keeper, or simply a pillow. You can squeeze them to the point of suffocation, and they’ll never complain. Their supportive powers may not be anything other than our own strength projected into their soft, yielding forms and glassy eyes, but they’re real nonetheless.
And I’m not alone in knowing this.
Recently, a friend mentioned recurring nightmares of the extreme variety, and asked her Facebook bubble about possible strategies to get rid of those. Without thinking, I told her that she needed someone in bed beside her that she could trust, that such a person didn’t necessarily have to be human, that teddy bears were underrated, and that yes, I was serious.
It took about a minute for an old mutual friend to side with me, and by the end of that morning I was swapping the names of our respective cuddly toys with a complete stranger. A brief conversation with that old friend and my kids followed, and a shopping trip later the perfect fox companion was found and prepared to go on his journey. Snail mail let him down, which means the poor creature had to spend ten days stuffed into his box, but in the end he arrived, safe and sound and ready for nightmare guard duty. The recipient called us ridiculously awesome.
I don’t know if that fox will really contribute towards cancelling those nightmares, but if nothing else, he’ll remind his new owner every time she reaches out and touches fur that there are people out there thinking of and caring about her.