“Now you shall be real to everyone.”

I still have the first toy I ever loved. It was a musical red horse with a yellow mane, which I unimaginatively named ‘Horsey.’ My mother removed the music box when I was little, and I have no memory whatsoever of the music that it played. It’s faded and worn now, with big patches of missing fur, and stitches on his neck where his head started to rip off and had to be sewn back on. He was lost outside in the rain one night when I was small, and I sobbed with joy when my mother found him. I didn’t want him to have to go in the washing machine, but she insisted.

I slept with Horsey all the way through college. Now, he lives in my linen closet, where the Potato found him a few weeks ago. He picked him up and said, “my horse?” and I said, “no, sweetie, that’s mommy’s.” It made me remember a toy of my dad’s that lived at my grandmother’s house when I was growing up, a teddy bear named “Brownie.” (I’m happy to report that the trend for uninteresting stuffed animal names has ended with me, as the Bee is quite capable of coming up with names like Naia Kiki Brianna for her teddy bear, and Teena Greena Sophina for a huge green dinosaur.) Brownie was a ratty-looking thing, and as a child, I couldn’t understand why my dad had once loved him, nor why my grandmother had saved him for all those years. My Horsey is pretty ratty-looking too at this point, but I don’t think I’ll be giving him up any time soon.

My daughter seems to rotate through her stuffed animals, without picking any specific one to be her favorite. The Potato, of course, has Mr. Bear, who is looking even worse for wear now than he did in the picture from last year, as he has two enormous patches, including one made out of bright blue bandana fabric (prompting landisdad to rename him FrankenBear). Like my grandmother with Brownie, I can see that I’ll be holding onto Mr. Bear for as long as I can, when the Potato is grown and has his own kids, to remind me of the little boy who loved him.

What about your kids? Do they have a Velveteen Rabbit of their own?

March 16, 2006. books for kids. 17 comments.