Tuesday, January 18, 2011


A friend gave me a stuffed cow for my birthday. It was supposed to be a goat, but my friend said she couldn't find a stuffed goat, so the cow it was. I named her Carnita, which I laugh at because I'm vegetarian and Ricardo laughs at because he can picture each part of her made into a delicious taco. When I pulled her out of the gift bag, I didn't even suppress my squeal of delight (no one was around, so it was ok). I thought, I'm thirty and I got a stuffed animal! Maybe some people were too old at eleven or sixteen or whenever, but at thirty, the little girl in me that secretly sticks her tongue out at stuffy adults was thrilled. I hugged Carnita and she sleeps with me at night, with her lovely stitched smile.

To say I loved stuffed animals as a child would be putting it mildly. At the highest count, I remember my stuffed animals numbering well over one hundred. One afternoon, I gathered them all together in my bedroom and conducted a little census, writing each of their names on a sheet of notebook paper. The point of the exercise, however, was not simply to know the number of animals I owned. I had a plan.

You see, I was feeling some nine-year old guilt. Here I owned this whole herd of stuffed animals, but only a handful had the privilege of sleeping in my bed at night. I had my favorites and felt bad about that. So, not wanting any animal, stuffed or real, to feel left out, I created a system to solve the problem. A sleeping schedule.

In my attempt at fairness, I cut out strips of paper with each animal's name on it, folded them and stuffed them in a jar. Then I numbered out the next one hundred something nights and, one by one, drew a name and wrote it in sequential order on the schedule. When the last name had been drawn and written, I felt such a sense of accomplishment and pride. I did it, I solved a huge problem. But when bedtime came and I picked up the stuffed animal whose name was drawn for the night, I was torn. I still wanted to sleep with my favorites. Therefore, another rule was instated. I would follow the schedule I'd drafted, but I would allow myself to have my favorites beside me as well.

And the moral of the story is, it's ok to have favorites sometimes. And perhaps, we have more parts in common with our childhood selves than we realize, and perhaps, that's not even something to be embarrassed about.

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