When I was a kid, I hated dolls. I didn’t play with my creepy-eyed Cabbage Patches. Barbies baffled me – was I supposed to dress them up? Then take their clothes off and dress them again? Even at five, it seemed sort of Sisyphysian. Chuckie made plenty of sense to me.
But I loved my stuffed animals.
My animals had names. They had histories. I slept with them every night – rotated, because otherwise they’d get sad*. I had Josie and Kanga and Roo and Tigger and bears and bears and bears. I’d like to say I let go when I grew up. But I didn’t. Norman S(ock). Monkey remains a beloved relic of a dearly departed college bestie – and also appeared in our dorm facebook. When I got pregnant with Manic Pixie Boy, the first thing I bought wasn’t cute onezies, but a stuffed blue dinosaur.
Which sits unloved on a shelf. While MP Boy showed an early attachment to a musical amphibian we dubbed Senor Frog, his continued indifference to stuffed animals has remained unmoved by maternal temptations. Sure, he’s showed passing fancies. He drug a giant stuffed snake around for a few days. He had a stuffed, fluffy Cocky he loved for a week, but it got left in a hotel in Atlanta, provoking not tears but total indifference. I tried with giant octopuses. A Yoda the size of his torso. A handmade Chewbacca. A stuffed sloth. When I was seven, I would have committed unspeakable crimes for that sloth.
So when Manic Pixie Toddler decided he could no longer bear separation from a rotating cast of Yo Gabba Gabba! monsters, I was over the moon.
It started with Brobee. Brobee, to my mind, was always the cutest of the Gabba Crew, cute enough that I nearly bought one for MP Boy before realizing he was Licensed Merchandise and freaking out**. I was eventually forced by societal pressure, hyperemesis gravidarum, and my husband to allow some TV, so YGG it was (The Aquabats and a lack of narrative convinced me). Eventually, Gabba monsters appeared in the house as avatars of the dreaded corporate machine – they were cute, small, and under six bucks each. Manic Pixie Boy ignored them.
But MP Toddler discovered Brobee. He snatched him up like Golem and slowly started taking him places. Brobee had to eat at the table. Brobee had to be shoved in the wrap when Bear bounced him to sleep.
In a blind panic that we suddenly couldn’t remember where we bought Brobee in the first place, I gave MP Toddler Plex. It wasn’t obsessive. Not at first. Plex and Brobee could stay in bed all day. But if you reminded MP Toddler – if you asked where Brobee and Plex were – he toddled off and retrieved them. He started producing high-pitched, wounded rabbit shrieks if MP Boy so much as looked at them. They began coming in the car.
Most parents would find this annoying or terrifying, because animals eventually get lost and that loss precipitates epic tantrums and misery. I lost blankies. I remember.
I bought an extra Brobee, a spare Plex, and Muno and Toodee.
Bear hates this. It means MP Toddler sometimes wants all four of them shoved in the wrap, which is bulky and annoying. But mostly, MPT alternates. Some days he carts around two. Some days three. All four is rare. Usually at least two of them make their way into the car. I try to maintain a one-Gabba-friend limit on public outings. Howling misery ensues because MPT can’t decide which to leave in the car.
It’s awesome. Because it leads to unstoppable cuteness, like this:
Nothing is cuter than a very tiny person dragging a stuffed animal everywhere. Especially when he’ll settle for a roving cast of them, so loss or damage isn’t such a worry. I try to rotate Plexes, just in case. Some days, I even remember to bring the doll sling out. Then the Gabba friends can ride while MPT roams hands-free. The doll carrier is purple, which makes it even more twee and adorable and ridiculously gender-stereotype-flouting. Yep, we’re so progressive our son loves stuffed animals and puts them in a carrier and the carrier is purple. Plus his toenails are usually painted. I know. You hate me. Or you’ve melted from the atomic cuteness ray.
MPT’s love for Gabba will eventually fade. But I’m hoping his love for stuffed animals remains. There’s a crapton of cute furry animals out there, and Mama has plastic, baby. You just ask me for another. My inner seven-year-old knows you can never have too many animals.
And I’m holding out hope for that sloth.
* The idea of neglected stuffed animals could work me into tears. Storing them in the attic prompted an emotional response on par with slamming Gramma in a nursing home. I blame this on early, repeated viewings of The Velveteen Rabbit and that Christmas special with Rugby the tiger where the weird doll Meteora appears and threatens to make him unloved and alone. I was too old for Toy Story to bother me, which is lucky, because Andy ignoring Woody for Buzz may have pushed me into post-traumatic stress syndrome.
** This was before I got pregnant with MP Toddler, and hence before MP Boy had ever, ever been exposed Talking Box of Terrible Brainwashing Lies, AKA the TV, AKA My Nemesis, which I would take in the backyard and shoot a la the last scene in Barbara Kingsolver’s Pigs in Heaven if I didn’t know Bear would immediately replace it with a bigger one, because he was a film major and remains in thrall to corporate media’s horrible, horrible lies. Also we both like The X-Files.