PART 1: THE CHOOSING
The first few days, I was super excited. They told me, a teddy like me would be picked in no time. I had all the qualities of a great teddy too: soft brown fur, plush cottony underbelly, and the heart of a fighter. I knew any kid out there would be lucky to have me. That’s what they said.
After the first few weeks, they said not to worry, because the best teddies always get picked last. I wasn’t worried. I knew I would get picked soon. I could feel it in my seams.
After the first few months, I stopped feeling it. I saw a lot of good teddies get picked up off the shelves, given a nod of approval, and taken home to the kids they’d protect no matter what. It’ll be your turn soon, they said.
I don’t know when I stopped counting, but eventually I just spent my time, slumped on the shelf. All it took was a little leaning back, a little feeling of hopelessness, and ta-da, one teddy slumped at the back of the shelf, away from all eyes of rejection.
I heard that teddies that were never chosen were given away to places called or-fan-a-ges. Homes for kids who have no moms or dads to come choose a teddy for them. It sounded like I was the perfect teddy for these kids, so I didn’t mind if that’s where I was headed, in the end.
She came in when they were getting ready to clear the shelves and collect all the unchosen teddies. It was winter, and I knew it was winter because I could see the snow piled outside the display window from my shelf. If there was one good thing about my shelf, it was that I had a view of the display window and I could see whenever it was sunny, or snowy, or whenever kids had their noses pressed up against the glass.
I’ll never forget that day. She was tiny and all wrapped up in a furry pink blanket, looking like a little pink teddy herself. Her mom was looking at the row of teddies with the pretty bows, and she was looking at me, so I gave her a little wave. She giggled and her mom turned. That’s when her mom saw me, and that’s when her mom picked me off the shelf, gave me a nod of approval, and took me home to protect her no matter what.
PART 2: THE BATTLING
They said the first few years would be the easiest. She was too young to do anything except drool on me, hug me, and occasionally throw me whenever she felt like it. It was then that I finally understood why the cottony underbelly was so important.
Once she started walking and talking, that was when the job truly began. It started with shadows, just like they said it would. Every night, she would get scared of all the corners of the room she couldn’t see, and every night, I’d stand guard at the foot of her bed and tell those shadows to back off. One flashlight and those shadows scurried away.
The noises were a little more difficult. I mean, how was I supposed to protect her from something I couldn’t see, but could hear all around me? And the things she would hear! Everything always sounds scary at night when you’re young, I suppose. But I wasn’t a great teddy for nothing. I figured out that all I needed to do was hum a lullaby to her while she was asleep, and she would stop hearing the noises.
Finally, the monsters came. They told me that kids with big i-ma-gi-na-shuns would be harder to protect because they would come up with all kinds of scary monsters. And they weren’t kidding. You should’ve seen the monsters she started imagining every night! Huge ones, gooey ones, ones with long sharp fangs, and oh my personal favorite, the creepy-crawly-thousand-legged-ones. Some nights, lying there with slits in my fur and a trail of cotton around me, I didn’t think I would make it to the day. But I had been chosen to protect this little girl, and as long as there was stuffing in my belly and a sword in my hand, I wasn’t going to let these monsters touch a hair on her head, thousand-legs or not. Thankfully, her big i-ma-gi-na-shun also meant all kinds of cool swords and armor for me, so I was more than equipped to fight these monsters all night.
I’m proud to say, I won every battle, and she slept well every night.
PART 3: THE NEVER FORGETTING
They warned me about the battle scars. A rip here, a slash there. It was bound to happen. You don’t come out of wars without a few scratches.
They also warned me about the forgetting. Kids grow up not needing their teddies anymore, they said. But it was okay, because our jobs weren’t to protect them their whole lives. We were supposed to be there to fight the monsters until they were old enough to fight the monsters themselves.
But they got something wrong because she grew up and she didn’t forget.
I was there for every rant about her parents, every long conversation with her friends, every squeal when she first fell in love, and every tear when he broke her heart. Personally, I would’ve loved to march over there with my sword and give that guy a piece of my mind.
She brought me along to every house she lived in, and always remembered my spot by her bed. She put me in the washing machine whenever I got dirty, and I always got out feeling dizzier each time.
I’ll admit, the monsters are very different now, and they’re definitely a lot harder to fight, and okay, it’s true that she doesn’t need me all the time. But sometimes, she does. Sometimes, the monsters are just too much and she can’t ward them off by herself. Whenever that happens, she comes to me. And whenever she does, I grab my sword, I put on my armor, and I fight.
© Jade M. Wong 2016
Reposted from a couple years ago.
Credit for the beautiful photo goes to Alex Blajan.