As I was straightening up in Toad's room yesterday, I realized that aside from all of the Blue's Clues paraphernalia and musical toys, there are a core group of stuffed ... "friends"... that have been in his life almost as long as Toad has been on this earth - a couple of them even longer. I take it for granted that they are there, but this little crew is actually pretty special.
Toadie's not much in to stuffed animals as far as he doesn't carry them around or really "play" with them much, but, he does seem to afford these particular buds a respect that most of the rest of his things don't get - meaning, he doesn't endeavor to take them apart or dump shampoo on them. He just seems to get that they have meaning in his life, even if he doesn't know or understand what it might be. Is it because they've been with him so long he just sees them as part of his world, that they just need to be there because they always have been? Probably. But I like to think that on some level, he has a sense of where they came from and why they're with him.
Why are they with him???
I'll tell you.
It may seem odd that at almost 13, Toad still has stuffed animals in his room that he had when he was just a baby. The way I see it, as long as he's still watching Blue's Clues and Little Bear, and making a bee-line for the toddler toys in the toy store, I don't really need to be in a hurry to "big-boy" him up. He's clearly in no hurry, so, why should I be?
And each member of this little, Toad-posse, was given to watch over him, in the stead of those who couldn't be with him in person.
Allow me to introduce them to you now:
The tale, of Peter Rabbit.
This is Peter. He is, in fact, a really beautiful piece from a Beatrix Potter collection.
I have had him for 23 years.
Peter originally belonged to a baby boy that I looked after when I first started working as a NICU nurse in 1988. His name was Nicholas - his parents liked to call him "Nicky". Dear Nicky had a difficult road. Not only was he born at 24 weeks (16 weeks early), but, he was also a dwarf. Like he wasn't small enough to begin with...
Nicky's parents gave Peter to him on his 6 month birthday - he was still in the NICU and terribly sick. I used to tease them that I was going to steal Peter because he's so gorgeous.
Along with the multitude of problems Nicky had, his liver wasn't terribly healthy. It left Nicky an almost green-ish color. This on top of the fact that he was just. so. tiny, led his parents and the staff to refer to him lovingly as our little frog. It may sound mean, but it wasn't at all - we all loved him.
Nicky never made it home. He passed away in the unit when he was about 9 months old. I was on vacation at the time. When I got back, I was given the sad news, but also, Peter - Nicky's parents left him for me with a note that I still have. They told me they wanted me to have him, so that one day I could give him to my own little angel. OK, that made me cry a little. And by little I mean a LOT.
He watched over Zach when he was a babe, and then I moved him to Josh's room when he arrived. He's been there ever since. Because my little frog-angel Nicky is watching over my Toadie. It just seems right.
Kermit, the elder statesman, and the Gund bear.
Yeah, you know, I didn't realize the significance of all the frogs in my life until just now...
Kermit, was mine. I got him when I was about 8. Which makes him about 38 years old.
Kermit was my go-to guy when I was growing up. Let's just put it this way - when I finally out-grew my blanket and my thumb, I had Kermit. Yes, I sucked my thumb (only at night!) until I was 8. Wanna fight about it?
Kermit is a world traveler. He's been to England, France, Germany, Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Monaco, and Italy. Made friends with hotel housekeeping staff all over Europe. Seriously, we'd come back to our room after whatever we'd been doing and Kermit would be posed thoughtfully on my pillow or tucked in, with little notes about what he'd been up to while we were gone (I wish I'd kept those)! So he's been around.
Still looks pretty good for an old frog, right?
Kermit is me. I am not always in Toad's room with him, whether he's playing or sleeping, but Kermit is. As he was always with me.
Gund bear is Grandma - my mom. She got it for Toadie when he was born. She had come all the way from Vancouver to Philly to look after Zach for us when Toad was born. It was so hard for her to leave. She got the beautiful bear for him (crazy. soft.) and he's been in his room ever since. Toad loves his grandma (she's 4th or 5th on his standard list of things he asks for all the time), and part of her is always with him.
Lion, another insanely soft Gund creation, is Grandpa. My dad gave this to Toad for Christmas when he was 2 or 3.
Now Lion is one of the few stuffed animals that Toadie will actually play with on occasion. Lion gets to go down the foam block slide a lot and pretty much has permanent residence at the top of it. At 10-11, he is the youngest member of the gang.
Maybe that's why he gets to play...
And what kid's crew would be complete without, you know, a dragon?
Leave it to Uncle Pete (my brother) to make sure my kids had a dragon looking out for them.
Now, I was never really in to the whole Beanie Baby thing. But Scorch is awesome - HE HAS SHINY RED WINGS AND TINY RED FLAMES COMING OUT HIS NOSTRILS... how can you not love this?!?!
Scorch was given to Zach when he was a baby, as my brother said, "every baby needs a cool dragon to look after them".
Yes. Yes, they do.
So Scorch moved on to watch over Toad just as Peter Rabbit did, and has been with him every since.
So. A 38 year-old frog, a 23 year-old rabbit, a 15 year-old dragon, a 13 year-old bear, and a 10/11 year-old lion have watch over the Toad. Ok them and the video monitor. But the monitor is no where near as awesome and it doesn't have a good back-story.
Besides, aside from not telling me when there's toothpaste, shampoo, or other un-mentionable things afoot, I think they're doing a pretty good job.