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Teddy Bears (and other Things Real)


My 14-year-old Girl has a rabbit with a thread-bare nose and a carrot tied to his hand. The rabbit s name is Baby. I bought Baby for her mother some years before My Girl was born. Baby and My Girl drifted towards one another and became inseperable friends. My Girl still sleeps with and hugs and talks to Baby.

Baby is Real.

I have an 8-year-old Boy. Right now he is sitting at the kitchen table in his underwear and a Looney Toons robe. At his feet, always at his feet, is a stuffed bear. The bear, beaten tattered and thin, lays prone on the hardwood floor. His neck is jaunting at an odd angle. His legs are splayed and his rump is lifted in the air. He looks most uncomfortable. But, as a Constant Companion, he is happy.

The bear has been with My Boy since he was born and has slept with him every night of his life. Initially the bear had a mechanical heart that beated thump-thump-thump (someone s theory is that the sound soothes an infant child - perhaps). That battery-operated ticker was removed years ago and in its place grew a different heart.

The bear has a name. Bear.

Bear is Real.

My 14-month-old Boy has a selection of stuffed animals. He has befriended One whom has been his Constant Partner at naptimes and night-night time. And is often clutched at in moments of great emotion. His Friend is a stuffed and soft Eeyore that I brought to him shortly after he was born and placed in the corner of his crib.

Eeyore is becoming Real.

I d love to write a bit about how one become Real - but it s all already been done and in ways that are much more beautiful than I could ever imagine. Just read a couple of Calvin and Hobbes comic strips or read Winnie-the-Poo again or The Velveteen Rabbit

The Skin Horse had lived longer in the nursery than any of the others. He was so old that his brown coat was bald in patches and showed the seams underneath, and most of the hairs in his tail had been pulled out to string bead necklaces. He was wise, for he had seen a long succession of mechanical toys arrive to boast and swagger, and by-and-by break their mainsprings and pass away, and he knew that they were only toys, and would never turn into anything else. For nursery magic is very strange and wonderful, and only those playthings that are old and wise and experienced like the Skin Horse understand all about it.

What is REAL? asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?

Real isn t how you are made, said the Skin Horse. It s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.

Does it hurt? asked the Rabbit.

Sometimes, said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. When you are Real you don t mind being hurt.

Does it happen all at once, like being wound up, he asked, or bit by bit?

It doesn t happen all at once, said the Skin Horse. You become. It takes a long time. That s why it doesn t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don t matter at all, because once you are Real you can t be ugly, except to people who don t Understand.

Oh, the photo. That picture s not mine. It is Noah s ( source photo ). I used it with implied permission - but I may have used privileges that I don t have. The teddy bear in the photo is Thomas.

Thomas is Real.


Dirty Butter said:

I'm going to put a link to this post on my own blog, as it fits so perfectly with how I feel about REAL stuffed animals.

Thank you so much for sharing your children's real toys with us. I invite you to come read what others have said about memories of their childhood toys on our Plush Memories blog.

Posted on Sep 24, 2005 11:40 AM

Tricia said:

Ted. E. Bear is Real. I've had him since I was 4 years old. I can still remember him sitting under the christmas tree the first morning he came into my life. He will be 30 yrs. old this christmas. He is always close by and still gets the honor of sitting on the bed.

Posted on Sep 24, 2005 05:20 PM

jen said:

What a great post. You went and made me all misty eyed....

I guess I shall post about Teddy and Ralph...they are mine, and yes, they are Real.

Thanks Jim. I really needed this. :O)

Posted on Sep 24, 2005 10:41 PM

Elizabeth Bowles said:

My 3 year old daughter has Duckie... Stuffed duck that is worn out from being washed many times, given to her by her grandfather the day she was born.

Duckie is real.

Posted on Sep 25, 2005 09:57 AM

Lisa said:

My husband and I have an Eeyore as well.

He goes on vacation with us. He sleeps with us.

He is most definately REAL.

Thanks, Jim. You brought tears to my eyes.

Posted on Sep 26, 2005 01:02 PM

Anne said:

Thanks so much for your post! I'm almost 25 years old and sleep with my very own REAL pal every night. As a child of the '80s, I received a bright orange popple beneath the tree one Christmas and dubbed him "Poppy." We've been together ever since. He's been around the world with me, gone into the O.R. for several surgeries, gone to college, and was even there on the honeymoon. My husband, bless his heart, understands completely and has become the vigilent guardian for my Real orange bud. Here's to all the fuzzy friends!

Posted on Sep 26, 2005 04:31 PM

Tanj said:

You just made me miss my Mrs. Beasley doll even more.

The past few weeks I have been shopping for a replacement on Ebay...

A 30-something girl with a sparkle in her eye can still make a stuffie REAL, right?

Posted on Sep 28, 2005 12:40 AM

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