The point of this story need not identify of the owner of the 1-eyed teddy bear, but rather WHO this fellow is made all the difference in saving our son’s cuddly animals.
The man actually cannot be identified because he is a secret agent on a very significant level. He is close to our family and we all adore him but we keep conversation limited to family stuff, old friends, or school happenings. He signs his holiday envelopes as James Bond. It’s all very cool in a surreptitious kind of way, the “secret” in secret agent makes it sound so hush-hush, and the undercover missions we are never allowed to know about are wrapped in clandestine mystery. All very exciting, so what does this have to do with stuffed animals?
Our eldest is a strapping 24-year-old dude with beer posters in his room and a steady girlfriend at the helm.
Rewind about 14 years and here was a kid with a ton of stuffed animals, some from babyhood, others won at the amusement park, many from the big glass box with the grabber handle thingie at the diner. An admirer of big cats, one of his favorite was a huge white tiger with sharp blue eyes.
For a long time, my husband felt our son needed to unload his cuddly animals. I’d protest seeing the quiet sadness in our child’s eyes. The subject came up at significant milestones, like award ceremonies, moving from elementary to middle school, etc. I understood my husband’s point of view: he wanted to make our son grow up, be a man, get tough. I understood my son’s point of view: at that time he was still an only child and he wasn’t ready.
Then one year we visited Washington, D.C. and James Bond invited us to stay in his home. He was away, as usual, and he couldn’t say where he was, except that he would leave the key for us under the mat. Under the mat?!? He lives with all this enigmatic secrecy but leaves the house key under the mat!
It was very exciting to walk around his home. Medals, awards, Christmas cards from the presidents over the last 20 years, and as we walked upstairs to pick out our rooms for the night, there, in the middle of the master bedroom, sitting proudly atop the big bed, was a 1-eyed Steiff teddy bear with a worn nose, an untied yellow bow & fur so loved-off and cuddled, it was a treasure to behold.
It was also ammunition to ward off any more attempts to clear out stuffed animals from our son’s room. “If James Bond can keep his teddy bear, so can I!”
So that was that. More than a decade’s passed and on his own, our son has donated his stuffed animals along the way – but that’s the important part of this story – it was on his terms, his timing and his choice of where they went. The huge white tiger is now the centerpiece & reading buddy in a fantastic enrichment school.
I never take anything from my children without asking them. Together we donate what they choose to give up when they choose to. It teaches them to let go, to give to others and to stay organized. (Little One sorting>>)
There is a marvelous organization called YoungLives which helps teenage mothers. Every 3rd Wednesday, the young mothers meet at a church in Norwalk, CT to learn about God and their children, plus, they can choose items they need that people have donated.
When our daughter was ready to donate her toys or princess dresses, etc., we would bring them to the church and she would see firsthand the children light up with joy as they picked out what they would like. She saw a little 2-year-old boy dive into her Elmo chair exclaiming, “That’s mine, I love this chair!” And little girls picking out sparkly dresses. Or Barbies. Or unicorns.
The children were happy and it made our child well up with joy to see the kids’ faces light up while new life was instantly breathed into her cherished pieces. It deeply linked giving to pleasure. You can check out organizations in your area like YoungLives, Birthright, Hopeline or any organization that benefits a cause you believe in. We’ve also donated her crib, baby furniture and Pack-n-Plays.
Our daughter has given up lots of her cuddly animals, even packing & sending many huge boxes to Africa.
The Bright SpotTM – The exciting thing about the missionary we shipped her stuffed animals to is that they sent back photos of orphan children cuddling her animals! A fine day, indeed. Again, on our children’s terms while reinforcing a life skill of giving as a pleasure.
Hurricane Irene ripped through metro New York and coastal towns in our area destroying homes and businesses. Our schools are closed for an extra week because of all the downed trees and power lines on the bus routes. Many people were left without power for a week; all I kept thinking about were the elderly, the disabled and all the Moms who have babies and toddlers to care for in the dark with no water. It also made me think very deeply of the 6-year-old little girl and her family we sponsor in Africa and how limited their resources are with power and water. It makes their plight and struggle for survival really hit home.
We were one of the families who were flooded; we had no power, no communication services, no running water. We’re on well water and when the power goes, so does the pump. Toilets don’t flush, oh, joy! Throw in a period the night of the hurricane and it can pretty much go downhill from there.
But Phillip was my hero, as usual, driving back & forth downtown filling gallon after gallon of water jugs. Sure, we prepared – we filled the tub – but at 2.5 gallons of water to flush, it doesn’t last that many days! He bought a load of Poland Spring and at first I felt so guilty flushing it down the toilet – literally! We used the “refilled” jugs for that and the remaining bottled spring water for drinking & brushing.
But before we could get downtown, we 1st we had to get out of our road – again Phillip & our son were my heros! A tree blocked our road. Neighbors were stuck. We’re far in the back country, near the horse farms and golf courses.
We are not a priority area, so I knew workers would not be clearing the end of our road for a while.
So in rain and heavy winds, my men cleared the way. I snapped pics, Little Petal supervised. A grand team effort in a time of family & neighborly need.
We had our battery-operated radio and listened to the radio station we air from weekly – WSTC & WNLK – it was the only outside communication we had. And we had dark chocolate-covered graham crackers – a must-have during this dodgy week!
With no electricity, time seems to pass more slowly. My stomach was still achy, brushing teeth was a misery trying to not waste the bottled water while cleaning the toothbrush, night came way too quickly and I just wanted to wash my hands!
My buttons were being pushed and I had to push back – I had to find my Bright SpotTM and make it a grand adventure! (See Mission: Bright Spot – 3rd flower tab in the nav bar above).
Finding your Bright SpotTM is not an easy task. The effort comes in times of adversity. But I decided to turn my situation into something great and memorable. We became pioneers and turned the hurricane recovery time into family fun time.
So what exactly was the Bright SpotTM in all this?? We all drove to my Mom’s house (my sister’s family had no power either) for hot showers, home-cooked dinner and good times all together. Then we bought dozens of battery-operated tea light candles and used them for the den, bedrooms, hallways, staircase, etc. It was very pretty. We had our 6-year-old pick out her favorite brand new flashlight and she played with the cats – chasing the little spot light here, there and everywhere. Our little one stayed in our room and we made shadow puppets on the ceiling with her new flashlight. We had friends over and in daylight hours played family games like Chutes & Ladders, Candy Land and I Spy.
We watched crazy men with bike helmets play golf on a flooded course – hello???
And because we had to eat out every day, I didn’t have to cook! And that means NO dishes…which in itself is its own Bright SpotTM!!