Hello, and welcome back friends. I’m sure you remember this picture from my last installment
and yeah, the question is “what started it all?”. The easy answer is Elmo, but, to give you a real answer, I need to say Pooh.
Now, I’ve touched on this briefly before, but if you’ll indulge me, I’m going to refresh your memory and fill in all of the details.
As the story goes:
Way back (really, way back, … like 1974 way back) I was but a wee little thing getting pushed in a stroller through a department store with my mom. At some point in our meandering, my little hands reached out, grabbed a Winnie the Pooh off the shelf, and I quickly went to sleep. Mom checks out, goes to load me in the car and finally notices the unpaid for stowaway. She is too tired to try and get me back out of the car, into the stroller, and back into the store, and decides that today, shoplifting is going to be alright.
Pooh never left my side after that. He was slept with, played with, sucked on, chewed on, confided in, fought with, dragged, pulled, and put back together. He currently has more “scar tissue” than I do (for the record I’ve been sewn back together 27 times in the first 21 years of my life. My mother was actually investigated for abuse at one point. I’m just really accident prone).
He’s been a part of every major turning point of my life. He went to college with me. He cried with me when my grandmother died and listened as I wrote and re-wrote her eulogy. He went on my honeymoon with me (surprisingly the missus didn’t mind) and helped me get through the divorce afterwards. And he’s still with me today.
Why? Because, to me, this Pooh is the one secure, stable, never changing constant in my life. And we all need that sometimes.
We need someone to listen. Not to talk back or give advice, but just to listen.
We need someone to rage on. Someone who won’t get upset or hold it against us.
We need someone who will let you know everything is going to be alright. And they let you know that with nothing but a touch. And maybe a smile if they can manage it.
I know it seems a bit “sissy” of me to admit that I still look forward to coming home after a long day of work and finding my favorite stuffed animal waiting for me. Fine, I’m a sissy. But I know I’m ok. I know it’ll all be alright. I know I can talk, cry, rage, punch, and vent and Pooh will still be there.
Just … in the next room over. With my son.
When my son was born I knew that I had to pass the torch, so to speak. I wanted to give the best gift I could possibly give him. So I gave him security, safety, and comfort. At least, I thought I did.
Pooh stayed with my son until he was replaced. By Elmo. Now, to be honest, I don’t much care for Elmo. He’s not a Sesame Street character I grew up with. I don’t understand the appeal. And I hate his voice. But my son, he LOVES him.
In total, there are 17 Elmo dolls in the vast piles of plush that my son has. This guy was the first and is his security blanket.
Elmo here was given to my son at about the 18 month mark. He was bigger and heavier than my son at the time. (its nearly 2′ tall). His eyes are the hardest plastic I have ever felt and I was given a black eye that lasted 4 days getting whacked by it once.
My son talks to him, wrestles with him, drags him out to watch tv, goes to sleep overs with him, rages, punishes, abuses, hugs, cuddles, fluffs, and whatever else he can think of with this King of Elmos. He comes home from school and he looks for Elmo. He goes to bed and he has to put Elmo in a place of honor where they can look eye to eye.
Elmo is every bit the security blanket for my son that Pooh ever was for me. Top dog in the pile and King of the mountain. Literally and figuratively.
Pooh is still there, somewhere in the pile. Usually near the top. Guarding the smaller plush from the bigger guys. And, at times, Pooh and Elmo share the places of honor tucked under each arm. But not often enough for me.
My son knows the importance I place on Pooh. And he tells me of the importance of Elmo to him. So we do have that security in common. It’s just not focused in the same place.
Amazing how a few scraps of fabric and some cotton batting can instill that much in someone. Amazing how powerful of a connection we are able to create with our toys and our youth. I’m in awe that never once has that faith, that stability, that security ever been tested or taken away.
So, thank you, Pooh. Thank you, too, Elmo. We’ll all sleep better tonight and have a brighter tomorrow thanks to you.
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