The Velveteen Rabbit is a story very familiar to many of us. The small stuffed rabbit who is loved so much by a little boy that he eventually becomes a real rabbit is an endearing tale
And it's easy to stop just at that.
But I can't.
I've seen the Nursery Magic come alive in our own home.
(What? Magic?! This coming from the woman who tells her children Santa isn't real? Yes. Bear with me here.)
It all started with this...
A stuffed toy tiger that wasn't even supposed to be ours.
We were visiting my grandmother in Oregon for Christmas one year. Bug was three at the time. My grandmother had bought some toys so that the grandchildren (and great-grandchild) would have something to play with during their visit. The tiger was among the toys, and supposed to be a "communal" toy.
Bug took one look at that tiger, grabbed it up in a ferocious hug, and never let go. He named the tiger "Stripey" almost on the spot.
And that is how Stripey joined the family. Literally.
Stripey soon found he had a place set for him at the table. Bug insisted he be included in playing board games and in story time. Stripey needed his own kisses goodnight.
It was all just very cute in my mind, a lot of make-believe, until one day, when Bug was asked to bring a favorite toy to preschool, I asked him if he was going to take Stripey. He said, no, because Stripey was real, and not a toy.
It was then that I realized the Nursery Magic had found us.
Especially when Bug started telling me that we had four people in our family: Daddy, Mommy, Bug, and Stripey (this was the pre-Monkey era.) He also told me I had two children: Bug and...you guessed it...Stripey.
It didn't end there.
Monkey loves animals. He especially loves dogs. And since a real dog is not in any foreseeable future, we got him a special Christmas present when he was two years old.
And that was when Dog joined our family. (Yes, let's all take a moment of silence for Monkey's creativity.)
Dog gets his teeth brushed, stories read to him. He gets to sit in the shopping cart, and he needs naps.
I would just brush it off as two little boys who love a set of stuffed animals immensely. But this is the wonder of the Nursery Magic.
Other children sense it too. Dog and Stripey are favorites of other children. When we would go to visit friends and family, the other little kids would run out and ask if Bug and Monkey had brought Stripey and Dog. Other children spend time hugging and petting these two toys.
Do I think there is real Nursery Magic and that Stripey and Dog sit together at night, staring at the moon, having existential conversations about their mortality? No. Do I think that these animals are so loved by two little boys that even other children can sense it? Yes.
And that is why, for us, the very dirty, worn out, faded tiger and dog are very much real.