When Stuffed Animals Attack

I have a stuffed animal … problem. It wouldn’t be a problem if I didn’t have kids; I would have lots of room for my stuffed animal friends if I didn’t have kids. Har!

But the problem is this:

I brought approximately 10 stuffed animals to this relationship. (SA brought, um, NONE, how is that possible?)
The first child brought 20 stuffed animals. I even dressed them in baby clothes and photographed some of them, because I had nothing better to do. Sigh. Those were the days.
The second child brought another 10.
And we also bought some along the way.

The other day, I was talking with some friends about this. One of the friends said that stuffed animals are a Low Play Value toy. They take up space, no one plays with them and woe betide you if you try to get rid of any. I understand this in principle. Other than using them for games of ‘toss the animal’ or as pretend audience members for impromptu stage shows, there is not a lot of play time for the animals. They get put in baskets, they get taken out and tossed around, they get put back in baskets. My kids play more with action figures and Lego and colouring books, at the moment.

But how can you throw away something with a face?

I find it very hard to cull my — and the childrens’ — important, sentimentally High Value stuffies. SA sometimes tries to sneak a few out in the donation bag and I’m all, HEY WHAT ARE YOU DOING PUT THAT BACK.

Trombone couldn’t care less about stuffed animals. I could probably give all his away and he wouldn’t notice for a few years. But Fresco, he takes after me in this respect. He is the kid with all the animals in his bed, the E.T in the closet, so to speak. He puts six animals in a backpack every morning, no matter where we’re going. He has appropriated my old duck puppets (yes, plural, what of it?), Trombone’s former ‘special’ kitty, and all six of the miniature dogs that came with the Melissa and Doug “Puppies Puppies Puppies” (or something) game that we got last Christmas. Every animal is special. Very special.* They have names and he knows their names and he knows which one is missing. I am pretty sure he knows their names better than I know HIS name some days.

* Except for the baby doll that I bought Trombone when he was a year old. Both children agreed we could give away the baby doll a few months ago, and though I sniffled a bit, I gave it away. It only cost $15; it wasn’t one of those Free Range Organic baby dolls or anything.

I remember the circumstances of how each stuffed animal came to live with us. Each has a story. How can you throw away something with a story? Especially if you are giving it to charity and then some other kid buys it and they don’t KNOW the story? (yes, then they get to have their own story, but I don’t care about that)(OK I do a little)(Actually it’s a fairly lovely sentiment.)

I still have my old stuffed bear, Gus, shoved in a plastic bin down in our storage room. The reason he isn’t upstairs with the rest of us is because he is 30 years old and I don’t think he would survive the current climate of War Soldiers VERSUS Iron Man VERSUS Wrestling Ninjas.

Gus was a Christmas gift the year I was seven. I asked for a big stuffed bear but I didn’t expect to get one. When I came downstairs at dark o-clock, there he was, under the Christmas tree, a red bow around his neck. He has always smelled like a motel. He has a tear under his arm that has been mended multiple times. He is the perfect size and shape for hugging and weeping into.

Where was I? Oh yes. So, eventually the stuffed animals will fall out of favour, I am assuming, and I will have to get rid of them. That day will suck.

The end. Except for this photo.

Left to right: Fresco holding Trombone’s special ‘first stuffie’ who is now known as Superdog; one of two identical duck puppets that I received as gifts from SA and my mom one Christmas; Trombone’s former ‘special’ kitty; Wally the wombat (puppet) my friend Phil brought me from Australia; Sheepie Sheep (a gift Fresco received at birth).
On the chair: Great Grandma’s special bear gifted to Trombone; Christmas sock monkey given to me the year before the kids were born. Back row: Magic the Moose (Trombone’s) and Bart the Beaver (Fresco’s) from Build a Bear — thank you Aunt Lillian.
Not pictured: Spot, Pepper, Bandit, Sandy, Cocoa (dogs) and Cowie Cow. And Chick. And Giant Duck. And 30 other friends.

Are you a stuffed animal person? If not, what is your sentimental toy thing. What? You don’t have a sentimental toy thing? Shut up, you do so.

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11 Responses to When Stuffed Animals Attack

  1. OHMYGOD, you are my people! I am such a stuffed animal person. I had waaaay too many and finally brought myself to sell most of them in a yard sale after I graduated high school. Then I got rid of some more when we moved into our house, but I still have more than I should. More than 20, let’s say. I have my childhood bear which my mom actually made for me from a pattern. I have a bear with a music box inside that was in my stocking my first Christmas. I have a tiny yellow rabbit that I got in an early Easter basket. And then we have the bear I bought to keep MB company in college when I wasn’t staying over.

    But most of the ones I kept were, oddly, late-life ones that I don’t have much emotional attachment to but couldn’t bring myself to get rid of because they were especially nice / cute / expensive. So I saved all the nice non-bear stuffed toys for Nico with the thought that he’d have a cool menagerie of animals to start with (elephant, mountain goat, multiple turtles, otter, giraffe, koala, raccoon, chameleon, kangaroo, etc). I also had a Pooh, Tigger, Piglet and Eeyore and bought a few very nice stuffed Dr Seuss characters for his bookshelf before he was born. Oh, AND he has my childhood doll crib packed to the brim with soft puppets of all kinds.

    Predictably – to everyone but me, apparently – my kid doesn’t give a single solitary shit for stuffed animals. The only one he’s attached to at all is his Scout dog that plays music. Go figure. I suppose the next one might like stuffed toys.

  2. Janice says:

    Holy cats. How do you not have multiple pets?

    • cheesefairy says:

      Stuffed animals are pets that don’t poop! (if anyone wants to give me money for that slogan, my email address is at the top of the page)

  3. Marcy says:

    I also harbour a deep affection for stuffed animals. My favourite is a dog that used to reside at my grandmother’s house. She bought her from Birks when she worked there, and she is called Muttsy. Grandma talked about throwing Muttsy away when all us kids grew up, but I would not have it and adopted her. I’ll probably keep her until she disintegrates.

  4. Megan says:

    My husband and I BOTH have this problem, so our house is seriously overrun with stuffed animals. And, um, my two favorites form when I was a kid? They may or may not live on my bed. I don’t sleep with them, but I always make sure they are comfortable and together (so they don’t get sad or lonely) and oh my god, I have just outed myself as a complete maniac.

    Seriously, though. I can’t shake the fact that they might have feelings and that I have already broken their little hearts by not playing with them, so the least I can do is let them hang out on a comfortable bed all day.

    Toy Story really did a number on me, obviously.

  5. shasta says:

    Husband: “What are you doing?”
    Me: “Going through Mittens’ old toys to fill a bag for Goodwill.”

    But truth be told, we both love them. Not surprisingly, so does Mittens.

  6. Ginger says:

    I have a Winnie the Pooh from high school (my son has abducted him. I grudgingly allowed it, but told him it was only a loan). At my mom’s house, I have a massive stuffed dog from when I was 2 (it’s too fragile to ship to me) and my old Holly Hobby doll (my mom won’t part with that because she’s sentimental about it). Now I have a kid who sleeps with about 15 stuffed animals, even if he never plays with them, and I cannot bring myself to edit them down.

    I fully expect that the stuffed animals will take over the house at this rate in 3.4 years.

  7. Jen says:

    There is story about how my brother forever changed the relationship with me when he stabbed my precious paddington in the heart with a car antennae and staked him to the piece of foam insulation my dad had propped up in the basement so my brother could practice ninja punches into it. (Yeah, I don’t know either). My mom had to sew Paddington up and put a heart patch over the gaping chest wound. I have about 6 leftover from my childhood, stored in a chest and two incredibly creepy china dolls. I had probably 70 or 80 at one time but after moving out, my mom asked me to go through the box and cull all but the special ones. Kale has White Bear, as you know, as his most special bear, but about 10 or so Bed Friends (as we call them) that actually just a few minutes ago we were sorting stacking and arranging tallest to shortest and whatever else his little brain was working on. I’m sad that someone referred to them as Low Play Value – I think stuffies are imaginative and simple and have just as high a play value as the paper towel tubes that become telescopes in my house.

  8. This reminds me of the Velveteen Rabbit. Maybe all of your stuffies will eventually turn into real duckies and kitties.

    I sort of see where you’re coming from…except when it comes to the gigantic stuffed bear that someone thrust upon us and now I plot daily how to toss it out without anyone noticing the 500 foot bear that’s gone missing from the front room.

    I have a thing for certain toys. Smurfs for example. I have all of my Smurfs from when I was a kid. It’s one of the only toys that I kept and I doubt I could toss them.

  9. allison says:

    When I was younger I was weirdly attached to my stuffed animals. I couldn’t leave the room without kissing them and tucking them in properly – I actually used to worry about how much of my future was going to be occupied caring for them. Yeah, I was a kid with issues. My daughter is crazy about stuffed animals, and sets them up in little families all over her room and sleeps with ten every night, BUT every once in a while I demand that we thin the herd and she’s very good at picking out a dozen or so (which barely makes a dent) that aren’t particularly ‘special’ and we donate them. The things I can’t get rid of from my youth? Books. And we’re suffocating under the load.