I believe in stuffed animals.
On my second birthday, I received a stuffed Dalmatian that I soon christened “Firecracker.” Over the next couple of years, Firecracker tagged along with me almost everywhere – Macy’s, Publix, Sunday dinners at the neighbors’. However, on my first day of daycare, my mom would not let me take him. Despite my caretakers’ many attempts, I sat alone in a secluded area near the back of the large room with a 24-pack of Crayola crayons and a few pieces of blank paper the whole day. Though I seemed calm and quiet on the outside, on the inside my heart was racing. I was terrified. My mom was gone, Firecracker was gone, and I was in a weird place with old babysitters and strange, smelly kids. The next day I persuaded my mom to let me take Firecracker. My attitude towards the caretakers and children changed completely. I branched out, comfortable because Firecracker was with me – I colored with him, built block buildings with him, and met my first best friend, Rich, with him. Being with Firecracker allowed me to reach out of my comfort zone and do new things and meet new people. Taking him to daycare gave me an extra little sense of security and safety, and it showed.
After Firecracker helped me to meet Rich, I started taking Firecracker less and less to daycare and leaving him more and more at home. Soon, I could happily and willingly meet new people and go new places without taking him along. But whenever I felt insecure or needy, I would turn right back to him.
At the beginning of seventh grade, I once again found myself friendless. Most of my friends from elementary school were in different classes and did not have much in common with me anymore. But instead of using Firecracker to meet new friends, I found the courage within me to stand up and meet new people. It was by doing this that I met my two best friends, Alli and Allison. Firecracker was not there when I met them – he was in my room about a mile away. But I found that even though I was uncomfortable with reaching out to meet new people and make new friends, I did not always need Firecracker right beside me to succeed.
Now, Firecracker is on a shelf in my closet, with plenty of other well-loved stuffed animals to keep him company. I do not go to him often. I do not need to – I am 16 and can deal with most of my problems without the help of a little stuffed toy. But I do know that if for some reason I were to ever need him again, I know right where to find him.
I believe that everyone needs something to turn to; something that makes them feel comfortable, safe, and secure. I believe that Firecracker was this “something” for me as a child. I believe in the power of stuffed animals.
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