I'm the kind of person who skips to the conversation when reading a book.
“Did you ever have a stuffed animal that you loved?” Hannah asked the other day.
Hannah has a monkey that is, at times, her constant companion. She sleeps snuggled up with Cheerio every night. I go in to kiss her before I go to bed, and I find a little ball of girl and monkey curled up together under her covers.
Some days, Cheerio is with her from the moment she gets out of bed until she climbs back in at night. More and more, as she grows older though, she forgets him. When she realizes that she has gone a whole day without hauling the monkey around, she runs and finds him to apologize. Cheerio is very forgiving.
“Yes,” I told her, “I had a turtle.”
She giggled about this. A turtle doesn’t seem very snuggly.
“I thought he was huge,” I continued. “I could sit on him to watch television.”
“What did you call him?” she asked.
“Well, there was a song that I loved called, ‘Puff, the Magic Dragon’ about a little boy and his imaginary friend, a dragon. So I named my special friend Puff, too. He was Puff, the Magic Turtle.”
She giggled again. It’s probably hard to picture your mother playing with stuffed animals and having imaginary friends.
“I would imagine that I was riding Puff to faraway places,” I told her, remembering the fun I had with him.
“Whatever happened to him?” she asked.
Peter, Paul and Mary flooded through my mind.
One gray night it happened, Jackie Paper came no more —
And Puff that mighty dragon, he ceased his fearless roar.
His head was bent in sorrow, green scales fell like rain;
Puff no longer went to play along the Cherry Lane;
Without his lifelong friend, Puff could not be brave,
So Puff that mighty dragon sadly slipped into his cave.
It’s a song both joyful and sad, remembering the carefree days of youth, and then the putting aside of childish ways. My Puff did not slip into a cave, he was stored away.
“I kept him in my room for years where he eventually ended up on the floor of my closet. When I went to college, my room was cleaned out so my brother could have a larger room and Puff got stored in the barn,” I told her the story, and watched her hug Cheerio even tighter.
“Is he still there?” she asked.
“No,” I told her. “It was a barn that Grampa had to tear down. When we cleaned it out before they took it down, I found Puff. He was so much smaller than I remembered,” I told her, remembering the shock at seeing him. I remembered him as huge, but he was not.
“He had become a home for a mouse family,” I continued, “so we couldn’t even keep him.”
She hugged Cheerio and kissed him on his brown furry head. “That will never happen to Cheerio,” she said, decidedly, with great determination. “I’m going to love him forever.”
Oh, my sweet, my precious little girl. There are days I hope you never grow up, but I know someday you will.
I will keep Cheerio for you when you go off to college. He will never become a mouse nest, if I can help it.
Someday, you can tell your little girl about your monkey friend, and have him there for her to hug.
Thanks to today’s Daily Prompt: Describe an item you were incredibly attached to as a child. What became of it?