When I was two-years-old, my dad went on a trip to Perth. I remember exactly nothing about this trip – why he went, how long for, did we drop him off/meet him at the airport – except that he came home with a teddy bear. And, not just any bear: a large (to my two-year-old self), black and white bear with deep black eyes, a squidgy nose and a body I could cuddle all day.
That bear – I named him, with astonishing originality, Ted – became my faithful companion. I would sleep with him, carry him around the house, take him on holidays and sit with him at mealtimes.
Well into my teens, Ted still slept in my bed every night. I couldn’t imagine a world without Ted. Even as my day-to-day ‘need’ for Ted diminished rapidly, my ‘want’ for Ted would never wane.
Ted was a constant in my life, a reminder of my childhood, a friend who never judged, the comfort I always needed. He saw me through friendship ups and downs, my parent’s divorce, my own breakups, school angst and a variety of other teenage emotional upheavals.
As I hit my 20s, Ted became less of a presence in my life. But he came with me as I moved out of home and eventually moved in with my then-boyfriend. He came with my now-husband and myself when we bought our first home and to all our subsequent residences.
And then came the children.
To my delight, they have both latched onto Ted with the same superglue emotional bond that I felt immediately on meeting him. When my eldest daughter was young and having trouble sleeping at night, the Early Childhood Nurse recommended putting something that smelt of me in the cot with her. It was Ted who was trussed into one of my t-shirts and tucked in next to her little body.
At various times, both my children have taken to sleeping with Ted – there have even been fights over whose turn it is to have him. And it’s not like we don’t have a house full of other soft toys.
Ted is a little worse for wear these days – we like to say he has been ‘over loved’ – but I wouldn’t change him for all the gold in the Federal Reserve.
Did you have a treasured childhood toy? Are they still with you today?