Sophie’s bedroom is overrun by stuffed animals. At last count, approximately 95 inanimate creatures graced her bed, her floor and her shelves. When Sophie goes to sleep, she scrunches herself into a ball so she can fit into a corner on her bed. She doesn’t want to disturb the furry friends that surround her.
When I announced to Sophie that I counted 95 stuffed animals in her room, she pranced around the kitchen with her hands on her cheeks and exclaimed, “That’s practically 100! I am so happy!” When I celebrated her kid-essence a few weeks ago for her 9th birthday, it wasn’t for nothing, I tell you.
The newest addition to her collection is Majesty, a snow leopard from the Bronx Zoo, pictured below. If these toys actually had feelings, as Sophie insists they do, Majesty would have felt overwhelmed by the smothering love Sophie exuded as she proudly carried her out of the store. I suspect Majesty and Don Freeman’s Corduroy are soul “stuffies” (Sophie’s term of endearment for her animals) in that respect.
Speaking of Sophie’s unrelenting personification of her cuddly friends, she often berates me for not showing them sufficient respect.
“Mom! Why did you throw Uni on the bed? You’re going to hurt her!”
“Mom! You’re making too much noise. Bone-Bone is trying to sleep!”
“Mom! Don’t threaten to put Shirley in the washing machine! You’re going to give her a heart attack!”
According to Sophie, the stuffed animal gods on Mount Plushmore curse me every time I disregard their earthbound compatriots’ feelings. Which may be the reason I suffer from periodic insomnia.
Because I am getting old and mostly because I don’t really care, I don’t know the names of more than a handful of Sophie’s stuffed animals. There are her super-super-super-super-special friends Shirley, Bone-Bone and Uni, who (yes, my use of ‘who’ instead of ‘which’ is intentional here – I am trying to honor Sophie’s wishes with some affectionate personification of my own) are pictured at the top of this post with her cherished tattered burp cloths. There are also Majesty, Oreo, Pinky Pie, Fluffers, Sky, Phantom and Peanut. Even Sophie can’t remember the names she’s bestowed on the majority of her buddies.
When I was a kid not much older than Sophie, I also had a lot of stuffed animals. Not as many as her, but plenty nonetheless. When my bed began to look like a tenement for stuffed animal refugees and I needed to make room for my growing body, I resolved to find a way to make more room for myself on my mattress while ensuring that some of my animals would still be able to keep me company.
Complete nerd that I was, I took inventory of all of my friends and created a schedule. Every week three animals would have the privilege of sharing my bed with me. The others would sit atop my white formica bookshelves awaiting their turn. And after a week’s time, I’d rotate a new trio into my bed. The scheme was quite a success and to this day, I am sure the animals thought it was an equitable solution.
Decades later, I thought Sophie would love my plan and replicate it with enthusiasm. So I proposed it to her. And as I finished talking, with a big smile on my face because how could she resist such a smart and thoughtful strategy, she looked at me with wide eyes, vehemently shook her head and shouted, “Mom! Are you crazy? That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.”
You see, it turns out that Sophie likes to cuddle with all of her “stuffies” together. No matter that they’ll eventually form an army and force her from her own bed into exile. Because as long as her “stuffies” are happy, she’s happy. Even if she ends up sleeping on the floor. Cradling her burp cloths, of course.
Tell me, dear readers, do your kids also have a stuffed animal menagerie?