Rosie and her animals

Pinky, Marvin, Curvy Horns, Hamsty, Paddington, Chickie, Fuzzarino, Lamby, Sheepy, Splashy. . . Our five-year-old daughter has never met a stuffed animal she didn’t like.

When Rosie was a baby, she was genuinely attached to one beloved doll. Gwen was her constant playmate, pajama friend, and travel companion. But sometime in the past year or so, Rosie has transformed into an equal-opportunity lover of stuffed animals — which has resulted in an impressive collection in her bed.Rosie with her stuffed animals.

For awhile, I was somewhat concerned about Rosie’s intense longing to acquire more, more, more! stuffed animals. When would it be enough? Is this just the way our preschooler is expressing materialism? There may be some truth in that. But it seems to us that Rosie’s devotion to her animals is less like a hoarder’s desire to amass objects and more like an art collector’s longing to cherish a new piece in their home. In other words, Rosie doesn’t just have a lot of stuffed animals: she plays with them. All thirty-eight of them.

You never know what might happen with Rosie’s stuffed friends. Animal kinships arise across barriers of genus and species. Fluffy pink acrobats perform amazing feats from the daring heights of bunk beds. Cuddly-looking rabbits may suddenly and violently begin kissing humans (inspiring the adult humans to lecture on the importance of personal space). Miniature hedgehogs and chickens will marry, giving birth to large farmyard animals. Small creatures have been known to stow away in Jon’s or my luggage “to keep us company” when we’re off on a business trip. And all of them are doted on by their mother, Rosie, and their kind aunt, Lucy (who genuinely enjoys participating in Rosie’s animal play).Hedgie and Chickie.

Hedgie and Chickie have recently been joined in the bonds of matrimony.

Of course, some fuzzy friends will get buried at the bottom of the pile for awhile. When a new plush acquaintance is introduced, one sees the inevitable Toy Story syndrome play out — the fresh toy receives a disproportionate amount of attention while the older ones lie neglected for a season. But Rosie always comes back to those beloved friends. When one seems to be particularly long-forgotten, they will receive an especially warm reception upon rediscovery. Pinky, lost for several weeks, recently turned up in the bathing suit drawer and was the cause of much rejoicing. A Christmas penguin — unique in its ability to perform a most repetitive rendition of “Sleighride” while rocking on a sled — was discovered in mid-July, much to the dismay of the parents. Even the dear Gwens (of which we eventually got two), when recently remembered, became an esteemed part of a diminutive tea party.

This morning, Rosie asked me to put two dozen of her favorite animals downstairs in our toy library . “This will help me keep my bed tidy!” I am not sure how long all of those animals will stay downstairs, but it was a reminder that this affinity for all things plush will probably not continue forever. Today, however, we can simply be grateful that we have no shortage of stuffed toys to love. Rosie with Chocolate the Bunny.

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