Its that time of year again.
I call it the annual stressfest (otherwise known as Christmas.)
Its that time when everyone wants your money: stores, charities....
I bet you can tell by the title that this is probably not a political diary?
No, this is a diary about something entirely different.
I first met "kitty" in February 2005, somewhere near the end. My oldest daughter and I were at the mall, when walking past the drugstore, we couldn't resist the clearance bin out front. It was loaded with Valentines stuff, toys, fake roses, chocolates....We were having a good laugh and marvelling at the tacky things that had been left behind that year.....No one loved their honey enough to give them the small plush monkey with the Huge red lips apparently.
At the bottom, I spotted something, WITH spots....
This was a small leopard toy, with the cutest little pink nose, and a rather raffish air about him. He had kind of a punk rocker hairstyle, and he was so soft....The pricetag was marked down to $4.99.....about 70 percent off. I thought, oh, this will be something for the new baby...(I was expecting in April). My daughter agreed, it was a GREAT toy. It was a FABULOUS toy.....she has a pretty good vocabulary, and an even better eye for toys.
We took our find to the cashier, and paid for him.
The kitty sat on top of one of the PC monitors for a while, he had a birds eye view of the living room.....Shortly after baby was born we moved, and The raffish Leopard was packed away......
Jumping forward a few months to the big day when the baby got a crib. We found a crib at a garage sale, in immaculate shape. It met all the current safety rules, and so we took it home for $5. I made new bumper pads, and a quilt, and everything was all set. Almost. It looked rather empty with just a small baby, so on an impulse I put the leopard in with her.
Over the next few weeks I noticed that the baby had taken a shine to her new roomie. She would reach out to touch it, and smile. Pretty soon it was that the toy had to come with her, whenever she got in or out of the crib.
We started calling It Kitty.
If I look at the pictures of my baby in my PC here, I can spot the kitty in about 90 percent of them. Kitty goes pretty much everywhere.....Kitty has had a few dunks...If Im not careful kitty sneaks into the bathtub, Kitty has even had a bath in the toilet. Kitty used to get washed in a pillowsack, on gentle and dried hanging on the shower rod, on the woodstove on a rack, etc. Now it's a hand wash only item.
When my daughter gets up in the morning, Kitty is in her arms. Kitty sits on my lap when she does, and kitty has to be kissed.....constantly. Indeed, Kitty even likes cheese!
When she goes to sleep, Kitty is nestled under one chubby arm, while she holds his tail in the other hand and rubs the tip with her thumb.
All this activity is making kitty look more and more disreputable, and that makes me fear for his longevity.
This isn't the first kitty in my life by the way. My older daughter has a "kitty" of her own too. My mother gave her a soft toy when she was only 10 months old, and I can pretty much repeat the story of kitty the second.
Except that Kitty the first used to do some very naughty things....
One day when my older daughter was only 4 or 5, there was an argument about something trivial as she was a strong willed child. She held the kitty up, smacked me with it and said. "kitty doesn't like you. Kitty is mad at you"....After that kitty became responsible for many naughty things. Kitty, had developed quite the attitude. What do you do? Its hard not to laugh..But Kitty got more and more aggressive.
So I decided to give kitty "time outs". This worked marvellously, as my daughter didn't want to lose her companion for even five minutes. Very soon she stopped using kitty as a means to act out and bash people over the head.
My daughter needed her kitty during the very bad divorce between me and my ex. It was the only constant at that time, and she never lost that attachment to it.
Then my own Mum passed away in 2004, and suddenly it became a link between her and her grandmother.
I had looked for another toy for many years in case something happened to it, but I never found one, until 2005. On a lark I was poking around on Ebay and found the exact same model.
I bid, and won. Kitty the second arrived via the mail from England in August 2005. When side by side, you really couldn't tell that they were the same at one time. The new kitty was plush and fat, and soft and bright. The old kitty was bald, and thin and faded. The paint had worn off the eyes, and all the stuffing had congregated to the bottoms of the feet.
The new kitty has been named "Ruby".
Ruby and Kitty the first are always together, and although I had so hoped that the old one could rest on a shelf and enjoy retirement, that isn't going to be happening in the near future.
I always marvel at how a toy, could become such an intricate part of a child's life. I have heard other parents tell similar stories, and they also have the same fears that the object of that affection will be lost or fall apart in the washer. That it will disintegrate and there will be a bereft and grieving child.
That we could all find such friendship and companionship, and comfort, when things aren't going so well.
And then a strange thing happened. For where the tear had fallen a flower grew out of the ground, a mysterious flower, not at all like any that grew in the garden. It had slender green leaves the colour of emeralds, and in the centre of the leaves a blossom like a golden cup.
It was so beautiful that the little Rabbit forgot to cry, and just lay there watching it. And presently the blossom opened, and out of it there stepped a fairy.
She was quite the loveliest fairy in the whole world. Her dress was of pearl and dew-drops, and there were flowers round her neck and in her hair, and her face was like the most perfect flower of all. And she came close to the little Rabbit and gathered him up in her arms and kissed him on his velveteen nose that was all damp from crying.
"Little Rabbit," she said, "don't you know who I am?"
The Rabbit looked up at her, and it seemed to him that he had seen her face before, but he couldn't think where.
"I am the nursery magic Fairy," she said. "I take care of all the playthings that the children have loved. When they are old and worn out and the children don't need them any more, then I come and take them away with me and turn them into Real."
"Wasn't I Real before?" asked the little Rabbit.
"You were Real to the Boy," the Fairy said, "because he loved you. Now you shall be Real to every one."
Transition Houses, and homeless shelters in most areas are always looking for new children's toys, as well as clothing and Books. There are also organizations that are helping families in disaster struck areas that are looking for these items, as well as cash donations.
I'm positive that there are more children out there that need a "kitty" in their life too.
In fact I'm now thoroughly convinced that the story of the Velveteen rabbit may have some basis in fact.
Ya, Im a softie.