Saturday, February 25, 2012

Shu-Shu the Pirate

It's no secret kids loved their stuffed toys.

I'm 43 years old and my old Snoopy is hidden away in the top of my office closet, not because I'm ashamed of him, but because I don't want my kids playing with him. Snoopy is old and frail. They might damage him beyond repair. Besides, he's mine.

The boys still have many of their stuffed animals, too. Although at times the number swelled to zoo-like quantities, presently each boy has only four animals in bed with him on any given night. The full cast of characters might fluctuate slightly from night to night, but both boys have favorites that always take the spotlight.

The German, for instance, has Giraffy, a red and white giraffe given to him years ago by his late Grandma. Hot on Giraffy's heels in terms of popularity is a gray squirrel purchased from the gift shop on one of the Royal Caribbean ships. Can you guess what his name is? That's right, it's Squirrelly. You'd think we would expect more out of the child we consider to be our most creative.

Squirrelly almost didn't make it home from that cruise. He went missing one day and the German was inconsolably bereft. We searched our cabin to no avail, then finally contacted housekeeping to see if Squirrelly had accidentally been sent to laundry with the bed sheets. Assuming we were accusing him of stealing a stuffed toy, our cabin steward arrived and, essentially, tore the room apart looking for him. I suppose fear of being deported back to Latvia on account of a nine-dollar, t-shirt wearing squirrel was coursing through his brain as he searched, but he finally did find the toy under a mattress. Crisis averted, Latvia homecoming avoided, we set full steam ahead!

For the Italian there is and has only ever been one stand-out favorite -- Little Puppy. Even now, at the ripe old age of 10, the thought of losing Little Puppy would be enough to bring the Italian to full-on nervous breakdown. And because the silly thing has been so unconditionally loved throughout the years it has taken on near mythical status in our happy home. When the time comes to store these mementos of early childhood for safekeeping, Little Puppy will be a difficult one for us to pack away.

For a brief period, Little Puppy had a runner up, a stand-in, a vice president, as it were. Hoot (an owl, if you can't figure that out on your own) also joined our family during the same cruise as Squirrelly, only soon thereafter was permanently disfigured when our poodle got hold if it and chewed off one of its eyes. Despite Oma's attempts at ornithological ocular surgery, the bird never regained its former glory, though it has lately been spotted atop the bed.

Our Daughter had several favorites when she was very little. In the stuffed toy category were a St. Bernard ("Bernie") and a Dalmation ("Dottie"). These two dogs instilled in me the belief that TY, the creator of Beanie Babies, has discovered some new indestructable cloth out of which to makes its toys. Bernie and Dottie withstood long car trips, multiple dining experiences in high chairs with pureed foods, diaper changes, vomit, and hours of playtime at the hands of toddlers. I should look so good as those two surviving toys.

Being a girl, Our Daughter also had several prize dolls. I'm not talking about collector's items or the naked Barbies crammed into the baskets under her bed -- check now and you might still find a few -- but instead I speak of the plastic-headed, fabric-bodied, bean-filled gatherers of grime and filth known as Shu-Shu and Miranda. We asked her recently if she still had them around. It had been a while since I had seen Miranda, and Shu-Shu was all but a distant memory for me. She assured us they were in her room somewhere. It seems the poodle worked her magic on them as well, as Miranda is missing several fingers and Shu-Shu, like Hoot, is in dire need of an eye patch.

A quick search to collect these special toys for a group photo yielded all but Shu-Shu. If the poodle has had any say in the matter, by now Shu-Shu might be off somewhere getting fitted for a wooden leg and a hook.

© 2012 Mark Feggeler

1 comment:

  1. That poodle has a plan, I can tell.

    My granddaughter got a stuffed white tiger from the zoo, and it was so "loved," it lost all of its neck muscles, and lost all trace of its stripes.