ISSUE #6: Plushies
Our topic on PLUSHIES was inspired by a video we came across on the importance of soft toys. Together, we own six Jellycat bunnies and they’ve followed us to the US, so we thought it’d be fun to see what thoughts we each have to offer on these prevailing objects in our relationship.
Article // The First Friend
Daryl thinks it’s possible for a young child to find the perfect friend in a soft toy. It’s the child’s first step in that direction.
Poetry // A Life with Plushies
An anecdotal poem on the vital role plushies play in Rosslyn’s life.
Food for Thought // Projection
Resource // Watch: The Importance of Soft Toys
May you relive your own nostalgic moments as you read. Enjoy!
Rosslyn & Daryl
ARTICLE // by Daryl
The First Friend
When my niece was born, I immediately thought of what soft toy to get her. Although this seems fairly common and unremarkable—I mean, isn’t it normal?—my reasons ran deeper than I realized.
As a long time admirer of Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson, I’ve always been fascinated by the philosophical discussions Calvin has with Hobbes, his stuffed tiger, on existence and morality. But as I matured, it became apparent to me that it was all founded upon the unshakeable friendship Calvin and Hobbes shared with each other. In Hobbes, Calvin found a friend to whom he could express his (sometimes diabolical) views on human nature, the reason for his existence, and the moral obligations he is bound to. At other times, Hobbes would be his perfect partner in crime as they attempt to thwart Susie Derkins (his archnemesis/love interest), embark on adventures together, or simply fight for survival against evil snowmen and the eternal tentacled monster under his bed. In turn, Hobbes found a loving friend in Calvin who would wait devotedly—“Is he done yet?”—for him when he has to go into the washer, or spoil him with canned tuna whenever hunger strikes. Together, they share a life that is exclusively theirs.
Cynics might view this as mere childish fantasy but Hobbes is as real as it gets for Calvin. As Calvin’s counterpart, Hobbes shoulders the responsibility of being the only equal in his life; in a world where Calvin is met with authority at every turn, Hobbes is the lone constant who can hold and receive Calvin’s idiosyncrasies with neither judgment nor skepticism. Calvin is wholly authentic in the presence of his best friend. Maybe this is what Aristotle meant when he referred to the perfect friend as “another self.” As another self, the perfect friend is equal and equivalent to you; not in the vulgar senses of prestige, status, or any of the material things but, rather, the vision(s) of what the both of you might seek alongside each other in light of your ideals, dreams, and principles.
And I want this for my niece. I want to gift to her her first friend. Someone who comforts her in the dead of the night if she has a nightmare. Someone who possesses the capacity to embrace her in her entirety as she pours forth her ideas, hopes, and wishes, who she would find fitting as a partner with whom she could converse. Someone who will travel universes with her as her mind develops the uncanny ability to create worlds ex nihilo. Most of all, I want her to have a friend who’s able to cradle her heart with all the tenderness this world might not afford her when she’s at her most vulnerable as she confronts the vast unknown before her.
POETRY // by Rosslyn
A Life with Plushies
Tucked in a closet across the globe,
yellowed shots of a little girl, plushies in tow.
Whenever she’s away from home,
you can be sure there’s one draped over her arm.
I have a plush bunny—
ears drooping over a floppy body,
lolling whenever and wherever.
I adore her. Simply.
Reluctant, to even share her with D.
She’s ours though—
a wedding gift to us from D,
an addition to our couple
of white and grey bunnies.
Ours—in my possession.
Nights in a foreign land, plush bunny
in tow; the old practice follows.
A cuddle for an instant fix
when the heart’s longing rings.
She’s followed me on all my travels since,
and laid in my arm almost every night.
Yes, there were but three,
I felt sufficiently safe and generous
to let her spend the night with D:
on his birthday, on the last day of his exams,
and on my birthday—
ikr, it’s my special day,
but hey, I can be giving too.
She was an only child
overwhelmed in a world of giants;
seeking solace in her furry friends,
a community was born.
When evil crept through the window,
these lumps of wool exorcised it.
When bile polluted the atmosphere,
these bags of beads dispelled it.
Aren’t stuffed toys fascinating?
Childish amusement to the ignorant,
endearing conduits for compassion,
like the breaking of dawn in the east,
they brought me certainty without the fog.
Strong if gentle, kind and sensitive,
adorned with fragments I’ve chiseled out
to sculpt the perfect me.
They bore my facets
unsafe to be seen.
She entrusted them with her secrets,
stuffing them with her hopes and wishes.
Inanimate without voices, she gave them hers;
a fellowship blossomed.
Fluffs of comfort chanting gently,
“It’s okay, it’s okay.”
They played therapist when she had no money
for the one in the private clinic;
lifted her shrouds,
and soaked up her sorrow.
When grandmother approached her last weeks,
I bought Mr. Fox to keep her company.
Out of despair perhaps, my attempt at praying.
I trusted him to ease her pain,
to offer gentleness and peace,
compassion can do the same.
He now sits at the edge of my bed,
soothing my grief and missing,
bearing my love for granny.
“Don’t you worry, little one,
we’re here for you.”
Clutching a paw,
her pulse steadies.
She descends from the tightrope,
I have a plush bunny—
we call her Snæffles—
now sprawled across the windowpane,
baking in the summer sun.
She’s had her long-overdue bath.
Running my fingers through her fur,
pulling her in for a cuddle;
my nervous system
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
In both articles, we read about the projection of essential qualities on soft toys, and how that projection shapes our views and experiences of soft toys. Projection is the process of displacing one’s feelings onto a different person, animal, or object.
Daryl believes that soft toys can carry the qualities of a perfect friend for young children since they lack the ability to adequately articulate themselves to be understood. Only a friend of their own making can play that all-important role.
Rosslyn, as a young child, instinctually sought safety and comfort through her plushies when the gentle presence she needed seemed wanting in her environment. As her reliance grew, she unconsciously projected qualities of her true self on them in a bid to keep herself safe. Although the years have passed, her body still remembers the comfort it received and, thus, continues to carry the same soft spot for plushies into adulthood.
Rosslyn projected her shadow on to the toy. And interestingly, Daryl brought in Aristotle’s idea of “another self.” When an object carries a part of us, it’s not surprising why we are inseparable from it, since being with it may make us feel whole.
Now, what about you, dear reader, what is the role of plushies in your life?
Recall a story of your first or favorite plushy. What can you learn about yourself from it?
As a grown-up now, what judgments might you hold of plushies? How might that inform you of what you allow or not allow in yourself?
How might gender (or other aspects of culture) have influenced your experience and attitude towards plushies?
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