More compelling than the ubiquitous Hemingway obit about unworn baby shoes, plushmemories.com puts out calls for long lost stuffed animals. Nate’s parents scoured a parking lot looking for a favorite beaver puppet when he was a kid, I once left one member of a family of stuffed tigers in a tree at my grandmother’s house (she found the poor fellow a week later when she was gardening). The specific tangibility of toys and comfort objects can imprint on us, especially as kids, and the loss/reunion experience is powerful (see the Knuffle Bunny books, endlessly appealing to kids).
Of course, it’s ridiculous to think that a lost toy must always be replaced— objects are only as significant as we allow, and the sheer quantity of inherently forgettable plush animals is a little astounding. It’s hard to imagine that little kids are still pining over a stuffed animal that, in most cases, they lost more than a year before their parents wrote to Plush memories to track down the stuffed critters. So who are these objects comforting? I can imagine the funniest kind of Marxist critique about the idea of giving little kids comfort objects, of trying to replace or buy “extras” of those objects so as not to break the kid/material bond. Most of these guys get lost by accidental donation, which reminds me a little of the way that the Salvation Army gets so many clothes that a lot of them are sold to the wash rag industry in bulk— that is, the donations come too fast and are essentially worthless in their current iteration.
ButI am a sucker for the cute and plush in the world, with a prairie dog, a little Japanese tiger, and a scary-cute Korean cat all keeping me company in my study. The blurry pig picture in the lower right corner isn’t from Plush Memories, it’s what I turned up in a quick Google search for my favorite stuffed animal, an unexpectedly lean white and pink pig.
And there are worse things to try to track down on the internet than the comfort object you associate with utterly undemanding love for yourself or your kid or your dog. The rummy stuffed animal faces accompanied with descriptions are at least interesting windows into the emotion we attach to soft objects with cute proportions:
“I’m looking for an Old Navy pink bunny about 12 inches long. My daughter’s Mr. Rabbit was thrown away by her dad’s girlfriend. My daughter is 6 1/2 and has had this bunny since she was 6 months old. I need this rabbit to heal her broken heart. Please let me know if anyone can help.”
“I am trying to find it for a child that received one during an instance of domestic violence. The child witnessed it and when the police showed up family service gave the child one.”
“Our dog stole this little toy from our child years ago and fell in love with it. He carried it everywhere with him and even slept with it. We noticed yesterday that it is missing and our dog is extremely sad and barely eating.”