Friday, October 29, 2010

on stuffed animals

This morning I had the kids come "snuggle" with me in bed. (A morning "snuggle" is what I call it when the kids come crawl all over me with no regard for which part of me is lying under that part of the covers.) Eden had my old teddy bear. She hugged him for a minute and then grabbed his front paws. "Look at your hans! Say, 'Ta-da!'" and she made him throw his hands up in the air. (As far as he could, anyway.) She repeated the process for his feet. She made me "nug-guh" her Pig-pig and then traded and had me "nug-guh" my old bear.

Israel entered the room with his "Ellie." (Ellie is a stuffed animal formerly known as Cookie Monster.) These days, she sports a cloth diaper and infant pajamas, which look really funny hanging off her stubby limbs. He went back to his room and returned with a rabbit and then started to go get some more.
"That's enough stuffed animals," I said.
Israel got visibly upset. "But...Ellie is not a stuffed animal!"
He came up into the bed with the stuffed animal and I told him I needed a hug this morning. Usually, it merits the best 3-year-old squeeze a mom could ask for...and a kiss on the cheek, too. This morning, I was presented with Ellie's wide-open black felt mouth and outstretched arms (which are default for her). I told Israel her hugs just aren't as good.

At bedtime, Israel piled all his stuffed animals on his pillow in a semi-circle around his head. He made sure a choice few of them were covered up and looked around at them all before settling among them under the covers himself. Eden had her favorite "Pig-pig" and a rotation of other special animals. It's anyone's guess which one she really wants on any particular trip to bed, but once it's found, she lays it beside her and is perfectly ready for sleep. Of course, blankets are part of the ritual here, too. For Eden it means knowing whether she wants to be covered up or not. For Israel, it's always the same: sheet, baby quilt, favorite fuzzy blue blanket on top. These things have become such habits they remind me of the way a dog circles before laying down or a cat kneads her bedding before laying down.

This morning, Israel would not stop asking me about it until I told him that Barker Bear is STILL my favorite stuffed animal. In a 3-year old's world, everyone has to have a favorite stuffed animal, I guess. Having something you take care of must be a way of letting people know you'll do your best to take care of them, too.

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