I never ended up getting that talk from my parents about it being time to get rid of my stuffed animals. My parents could care less.
In fact, my father, who is currently in his forties, still has a cherished stuffed animal of his own: a beat up, old monkey simply named “Monkey.” He received Monkey from a family member when he was four years old and in the hospital with a nasty case of pneumonia from smoke inhalation. Over the years, his older brother repeatedly ripped off Monkey’s arms and legs, which my grandmother dutifully stitched back on. Upon close examination, you can still find the stitches on his dusty shoulders and hips.
Monkey lives an easy life now, up on top of the dresser out of reach of small children and the dogs and the cat, watching everything below him with his cloudy black bead eyes. When I was little, sometimes I would be given the opportunity to play with him, but only with the promise that I would be very, very gentle.
So, if my dad still had a stuffed animal, it would have been pretty difficult to tell me that I needed to get rid of Snowy, my stuffed husky puppy. I received Snowy when I was eight years old. My parents and I were out at the shopping mall to get dinner to celebrate my dad’s birthday. We ended up wandering our way into a toy store, where I fell in love with the velvety soft dog on the shelf with the purple ribbon. So, Snowy has the same birthday as my dad.
When I was a kid, Snowy and I did everything together. He was my Hobbes and I was his Calvin. To this day, he still travels with me wherever I go. He goes into the suitcase, the backpack, the passenger’s seat for each vacation, every road trip. My mom complains that he’s been more places than she has.
On Tuesday, I decided to let him “take over” my Snapchat for the day, and my followers saw our trip to the top of the Twin Peaks in San Francisco through his eyes. I guess I’m not the only one who sees no expiration date on stuffed animals, considering the delighted responses I got from some of my followers. It was pretty fun carrying him around through the city. Some people gave me weird looks, others laughed and smiled as they saw me taking videos with him and setting him up for poses.
It was fun for me, too. I got to spend the whole day with my childhood friend, and I enjoyed imagining how he would perceive the world and experience San Francisco. It was much more interesting than just going for a hike and taking the usual panoramic pictures.
It’s important to learn how to have fun in your own company. I suspect that in general, only-children like myself will have an easier time with this. Snowy, really, is an extension of myself, and he gives me an outlet to learn more about myself. It’s also important to give ourselves opportunities to exercise our creativity and imaginations.
You’re never too old to have a vivid imagination, just like you’re never too old to have a stuffed animals.
Are you comfortable spending time with yourself? If not, take some time to consider why.