Thursday, 12 October 2017

A menagerie of stuffed animals

A couple of years ago for Christmas we bought Mia a doll. It was a fancy one with batteries, she sucked from a bottle and cried with real tears. We thought that she'd love it, as she's always shown motherly tendencies, but after the initial excitement she didn't show much interest.

It turned out that she would rather demonstrate her maternal instincts towards her ever increasing collection of stuffed animals. We have them stored in a drawer in her wardrobe, in a cardboard zoo themed box on her bookshelf, and alongside her in her bed. She has so many there that when I go to tuck her in at night she has often half fallen out, evicted from her own bed by a huge pile of cuddlies.

Stuffed toys in a zoo themed box

She has a stuffed toy to represent animals from across the animal kingdom, which comes in very handy on school dress up days when a particular creature is needed to supplement a costume. She has also adopted my own remaining stuffed toys, including some Beanie Babies that I collected at a time when we all thought they'd be worth something someday. I hope they won't be, because they are certainly no longer in mint condition!

Occasionally when I'm having a sort out I skim a few off that I've not seen her play with for a while and hide them in my wardrobe. Generally she's asked for them back within days. She maintains an encyclopedic knowledge of her collection, she can remember where they came from or who gave them to her, their names, and also their likes and dislikes.

It wasn't until this summer that we introduced her to Build a Bear, and I'm not quite sure how we managed to keep her away for so long. She spent some of her own pocket money on her first bear, and then she acquired a second on a more recent trip with Ram (who having seen her devotion towards the first, spoiled her with a second).

Child reading a book to her teddy bear

This new bear ('Fluffy') has become her constant companion, and in lieu of receiving the class bear to bring home she has been taking photographs of Fluffy around the house, printing them out, and writing about him in a notebook.

She has also encouraged Harry to appreciate and grow his own collection. Previously he was content with just Giraffe, now he also has his own small band of furry friends that accompany him to bed at night. Counted among their number are two large fluffy slippers, that he would rather cuddle at night than wear on his feet.

I love seeing Mia's devotion to her little animal friends, and the imaginative games that she plays with them. I'll be very sad indeed when this stage of her childhood is over, although I'm sure she'll continue to treasure them all for some time yet!

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