Nov/Dec
2012

Furry Friend Fanatic

Written by Amy Brase
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furry-friend-fanaticThere's a room in our house I don't want you to know about.

It started out as a smallish dilemma. Then it became a slippery slope sort of problem. By the time the holidays are over, I expect it to be a full-blown issue. We may need an intervention.

There's an enthusiast in the family, and she's in denial. She's five, and she's a hoarder.

"Oh, that's so normal for little ones!" you all say as you settle onto your couch without having to remove seventeen furry friends first.

"It's sweet!" you add as you reminisce about your one, two or three special childhood lovies.

We're not talking about a basket full of stuffed animals, folks. Or even a trunk. This is an ENTIRE ROOM of dearly beloved friends overflowing into the common living areas. At times, the depth of fur in Sweetpea's bedroom rivals a kiddie pool.

It all started so innocently with the normal gifting of newborn plush, the hand-me-downs from Big Bro and Sis and the gradual accumulation with each birthday, Christmas and...well...every calendar holiday.

At age three, Sweetpea developed an acute interest—not to be confused with “a cute” one, though her unabashed delight was admittedly cute as she acquired new unicorns and Sesame Street characters.

When there was no room left for sleeping, I cleverly implemented an over-the-door shoe organizer.

Sweetpea promptly learned the wonders of a footstool.

We added cupboards and shelves to store them all, but as quickly as companions were retired, they were snatched back out for a carpet picnic. Or a trip to the eye doctor. Or the library.

The management of this population has officially become epic, but the continual accumulation is truly the bigger issue.

"What do you want for your birthday?"

Stuffed animals. (Plural.)

"What souvenir will remind you of Mount Rushmore?"

Stuffed animals.

"What is big brother spending all of his quarters on to win for you out of that evil claw machine?"

Stuffed animals.

"What will you buy at the Dollar Store?"

You guessed it. Stuffed animals.

It would be one thing if we were only dealing with high-quality, keepsake teddy bears and Webkinz, but among these collectibles are cheap, thread-bare, felt-nosed rabbits.

And she CHERISHES THEM ALL.

"Oh, Mommy," she laments, "tiger is lonely because he doesn't have a family. So we need to bring the whole puppy family with us today because they are his family until I get more tigers."

Naturally.

Let's be clear. This isn't just a spoiled kiddo who greedily wants more toys without playing with the ones she already has. She spreads her love equally to all and takes turns sleeping with armfuls.

To answer the question that 94% of you are asking: yes, I've tried secretly removing a few and placing them out of sight to see if she notices. She does. She frantically searches like a mother who has lost a child. Or more accurately, like a mother whose beloved children have been secretly snatched and hidden away in a dark and lonely place. I just can't bear to cause such angst.

I suppose it could be worse. For this reason, we have decided to embrace the sheep, the kittens, the turtles and even Lisa the snake. (A creepy stuffed snake she named Lisa. Special thanks to Nana & Papa for that treasure.) Sweetpea doesn't have to part with any of her friends. She just can't adopt a new one until she says goodbye to one. Understandably, this has evoked genuine crocodile tears and sighs of grief as we pass by store displays.

Supposedly, this means Sweetpea will grow up to be a compassionate, nurturing person. Maybe she'll even care enough to donate Lisa.

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