In our home, there are two soft cuddly toys into which our boys literally squeeze all of their emotions. These fluffy toys have weathered the full spectrum of said emotions and they are very well loved. They are needless to say, essential equipment for bedtime.
They will often find themselves doubling as pillows, eye masks, tissues, wet wipes, face cloths or indeed when required, even weapons. Over the years, they have had clothes made for them, medication administered to them and food infused into them and as such have also had regular baths since ‘birth’. They now have their own beds in a special drawer next to the double bunk beds and this where they spend most of their downtime.
The big guy has a small cuddly about the size of a hand (of the genus Beanie Baby and species Huntley Bear) whose given name is ‘Bear’. The little guy has a fluffy dog with oversized ears that’s about the size of a scatter cushion and whose given name is of course ‘Doggey’. He has no pedigree being ostensibly of the genus ‘Pavement Special’.
These two creatures have been the subject of many a search and rescue effort over the years. Every once in a while they get carried somewhere under an arm and then left behind or stuffed into a space ship or truck, or even a lunch box and then the game is on, to find the cuddly before bedtime. I must say though, I’m quite strict about where these creatures are allowed to go since I do not relish the thought of explaining to a tired child that their cuddley is now a part of the great wide open having been left at a picnic or a restaurant or mall for that matter. Most of the time though, they go awol for no more than half a day having simply been misplaced in the house and then they turn up somewhere and we cancel the call into the police for a ‘missing person’.
Bear is just a few months younger than my eldest boy, he’s been a part of the big guys life since the beginning. I remember downloading an app (the iPhone was in its infancy then) that showed one a picture of an animal and then it made the corresponding animal sound. Swipe, repeat about a million times. It had a built in collection of around 50 animals in it and was a firm favourite with the big guy. The app had the added feature where one was able to upload your own images and attach sounds to them. So of course we added a mom and a dad, I believe Cleo (our grumpy old cat) also had an entry and then of course Bear was given his own ‘page’ too. We were, I’ll admit, very much like those people who create Facebook profiles for their pets or indeed their porcelain doll collections. Anyway, one could swipe through the collection until you found your favourite animal and then listen to its sound until the battery ran out on the device, or until the parents got tired of listening to the cicadas screeching and confiscated the phone. My boy loved that app but would literally squeal with delight when Bear appeared on the screen and my voice belted out an abrupt sounding ‘Bear’.
Tellingly, we’ve had to send Bear in for some maintenance from time to time to plump him up given that he tends to, inexplicably, loose weight over time. He is now constituted out of equal parts original beans and supplemental rice courtesy of the boys grandmother.
Doggey is a no name brand soft toy with big floppy ears that are not unlike the ears of our real life dog, a spirited Basset Hound. Indeed, even the markings on Doggey are somewhat aligned to those of our real life pet. As I write this I wonder if our choice in pet was somehow subconsciously informed by Doggey. If you can cast your mind back to the cartoon strip days of Charlie Brown and remember one character in particular, Linus, who had an unfaltering love for his blankie, you’ll have a pretty good idea of the little guys attachment to Doggey. He is a major role player in sleep time and I must confess, I love watching the little guy cradle Doggey in the crook of his arm and drift off to sleep at night. It relaxes me, knowing that my boy is well looked after while he sleeps and that he’s probably managed to pull Doggey into his dreams too. Every now and again the little guy will sleep in our bed. If he’s woken up from a bad dream or if he’s unwell, he’ll just crawl onto our bed like a ninja and plop down between us. On those nights, Doggey makes his way into our beds too and really it’s anyone’s guess who’ll be hugging him when morning breaks because he’s quite simply the softest thing since fresh bread and if he’s recently had a bath, he’s quite fragrant too.
Since the arrival of the actual dog in our home nine months ago, Bear and Doggey have both been the unfortunate victims of smash and grabs by the Bassett Hound and both on more than one occasion at that. It was becoming a problem so we had to donate two less important soft toys, in the hierarchy of soft toys in our home, to the dog to take the focus off of Bear and Doggey. This was a strategic and essential move and I must say, it helped enormously as there have been far fewer incidents since then. I was a little dubious at first I’ll admit, I thought the dog would chew through them in a day but they’ve lasted several months now and aside from being a little grubby and of course covered in Basset slobber, they are in remarkably good nick. In point of fact, there has been considerably less chewing of things in the home in general since the dog was given her special friends.
The dog bed being the only notable exception.
The bed has been losing stuffing consistently for several weeks now and really, its like its hemorrhaging foam. There are bits of the stuff scattered everywhere. The dog seems to be ingesting some of the foam too as there are always little crumbs stuck accusingly to the side of her mouth, which is somewhat worrying since I’m not sure how much she can injest before it becomes a problem. I expect at some point I’ll be googling ‘dog swallowed foam’ to see what I’m in for. Each day I reprimand the Basset about this behavior and for the duration of the scolding, I get her full attention, staring up at me with floppy ears and droopy, drunkard eyes as if to say, “Yes, I chew the bed. I’m not even the slightest bit sorry.”
Of course that means we now need to keep track of four cuddlies in the house instead of just the original two lest we find our shoes, tables, chairs, ottomans, blinds, skirting boards and blankets chewed by a Basset throwing a tantrum because her cuddley is missing.