I was at another child's birthday party last week.
One of the children there, a toddler started crying and was
immediately soothed when her mother handed her a stuffed monkey.
"Here's Monkey!" the mother said, with both enthusiasm and relief in
Maybe it's a girl thing, because both of the small girls I know have
formed attachments to stuffed animals. For the boys I know, stuffed
animals are made for flinging across the room.
I can remember when I was a child, feeling that same attachment for
my menagerie of stuffed animals. I had so many of them, that when I
was in preschool I borrowed my mother's laundry baskets and
played "zoo" with them.
But there was one animal that held a special place in my heart. He
was Larry the Lion. Larry the Lion (and he came named that way) was
created by Mattel, I believe, and if you pulled the string at his
throat he said things such as "My name is Larry the Lion," and my
personal favorite, "ROAR! Oops! I scared myself."
While I made sure I said goodnight to all of my stuffed animals and
dolls (so their feelings wouldn't be hurt and they wouldn't kill me
during the night) Larry the Lion had the supreme honor of sleeping
In fact, I didn't go anywhere without Larry the Lion.
He got a little dingier over time, but still I held on to him.
Once when I was in the third or fourth grade, a friend and his
family came to visit our family. Being a boy, Mark decided it would
be fun to play "Keep Away from Leah" with Larry the Lion. I made a
quick grab for my precious stuffed friend and my fingers closed
around his tiny tail.
"Keep Away" turned into "Tug of War." The next thing I knew I was
sitting on the floor with Larry's tail in my hand and Mark was
shouting triumphantly over me.
What started out as a tiny hole slowly worked it's way into a
gaping, stuffing sloughing crevice with the help of my dogs Aggie
When I was 10 or so, my sister fashioned pants for Larry to cover
his defect, and we added sunglasses to make his ensemble. But still
I held onto him. I kept Larry the Lion until my father and my sister
held an intervention when I was in my teens and made me get rid of
I regret it still.
I am just happy to find I didn't have an unusual attachment to my
I once kept a toddler for the day for friends while they were
When I picked Patty up, her mother handed me the normal accessories:
diaper bag, bottles, juice and car seat.
Then she handed me Bunny.
"Whatever you do," she told me, "don't lose Bunny."
Then she fixed me with a stare.
"If it's a choice of coming back without Bunny and never coming
back — don't come back."
I have never been more scared in my life. I spent most of the day
with a death grip on Bunny.
Patty has moved on, however. When I saw her last week, it wasn't
Bunny she held onto, but a Winnie the Pooh.
I have moved on as well, although it wasn't by choice. I have tried
to find another Larry the Lion, but it seems he is irreplaceable. So
now I have a Wylie Coyote.
He doesn't sleep with me, I have grown up that much.
But he does watch out for me while I sleep from his perch across the