As young children, my sister and I (prior to the arrival of my brother), were fortunate enough to spend the first few years of our lives growing up in Jakarta, Indonesia. The smell of sizzling street food, bustling herds of traffic, and the cantering tone of a colourful language are just some of the recollections still vividly stored in conscious memory pockets despite my tender age.
Often, we would make the much anticipated jaunt to Singapore to enjoy family trips when my Dad was on a break from work – it was here that I became enchanted by the lifeblood of an international community that seemingly never slept. From the billboards bedazzled with images boasting the latest technology and automobiles, to the department store windows decorated with jewel-like perfume bottles and pointy shoes – I loved every ounce of this foreign visual information and will treasure that feeling of connectedness forever.
It was here that my sister and I were given the opportunity to purchase a travelling companion for the looming return voyage home to Australia. Looking up at what seemed like a sky full of glistening stars, were rows of delightfully dressed characters and stuffed animals sporting yearning faces under the beaming aisle lights. I contemplated how I might attempt to ‘cast’ the perfect plush; each face so deserving in its own right.
My sister chose a white fluffy cat with blue eyes that smelt of mint leaves. She was quick to pluck him from the shelf, and dutifully inform my parents that his name was ‘Minty’, based on all of the obvious visual and olfactory evidence. And mine became ‘Huggie’, a pink sparkly rabbit with iridescent eyes whose belly smelt of candy – I knew as soon as I saw him that I needed to know him. And in an instant, it was official; he had become my creature of comfort. Years would pass by and I would watch Huggie’s limbs being re-stitched after too many efforts down the slide, his belly being re-scented with oil (washing cycle after washing cycle), his eyes losing their gleam each time he was dragged across cement or sand; but never did my affection or adoration waver for this pile of glitter and stuffing to whom I shared my secrets with and dreamed alongside.
I am now fortunate enough to be a parent observing a similar relationship between my two and a half year old son, and his ‘Super Teddy’. He was gifted with this at birth from a good friend of mine, and it is quite curiously just a teddy bear head attached to a small blanket! But he loves it; so much so that Super Teddy must accompany us on every family adventure and be present at all times upon day-nap commencement and bed time. After witnessing my nephew adhere to a similar looking Teddy that was a ‘one of a kind’ almost two years earlier, I prepared myself by purchasing 10 ‘Super Teddies’ – I now tap them in and out during the night shift to ensure each washes, wears, and appears to age gracefully at the same pace.
He flies through the air when lunged, and he is ‘super’ for that reason. He taught Percy where his ‘eyes’, ‘ears’, ‘mouth’ and ‘nose’ is. He offers up his short stretch of blanket to be twiddled or chewed if teeth are a bother or if a mess needs wiping away; and he provides consistent council over the monitor of an evening (I would love to know what he knows). Iron Man is a favourite, as is Pegasus from Uncle Nik, Big Teddy from Grandma and Grandad, the fleet of mini trains and cars, and the speaking cast of Toy Story to name a few other cameo roles in Percy’s life – but somehow he always finds the time to reassure ‘Super Teddy’ of his worth.
George Washington Carver (1864 – 1943 USA), believed “there is nothing that will not reveal its secrets if you love it enough”. ‘Woody’ tells Percy that there’s a snake in his boot, ‘Buzz’ makes statements like; “to infinity, and beyond”; yet somehow despite the lack of sophistication and technology, humble and inexpensive Super Teddy seems to manage so much more. And much like a relationship between two people, this bond between comfort companion and toddler seems to boast so much respect and trust – the choice to love all, but one the most is a revelation that simply can’t be taught.