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Sunday, May 18, 2014

Puppy Love

They say that objects don't matter and and to some extent that's true but what about when something precious is lost? And by precious I don't mean monetarily expensive, I mean something imbued with precious memories, an object which embodies a time or a feeling. An object like a little blue stuffed dog.

Puppy Cullen was gifted to my son on the day he was born by one of my truest and closest friends. Boy and dog have grown up together, from those days when Puppy Cullen and the Boy Child would hang out in the cot or pram, to those destructive early toddler days where the two of them would stagger round the house getting up to mischief like a little gang. There was a period of estrangement, like all relationships, where the two of them took the time to grow as people, where the Boy Child was hanging out with Pooh Bear, but fate soon brought them back together. Childhood best friends, inseparable. Hours were spent watching the washing machine turn waiting for the little blue dog to emerge clean and fluffy, they would watch TV together, take trike rides, play trains. As a mother I often would marvel at the comfort and real joy this little stuffed toy, this inanimate object could bring my child.

And then it happened. Puppy Cullen didn't come home with us one day. Frantic searches, the leaving of telephones numbers, the upending of bags and suitcases ensued, but alas in vain. Our little blue friend, the Boy Child's greatest companion was gone. My little man, was as you might expect, distraught. But what I didn't expect was my own emotional reaction to the loss of the little blue dog. When the realisation that he was lost to us sank in, I cried. Big, fat hot tears. There may have been sobbing. Okay, there was sobbing. There was definitely Ugly Crying Face. I cried as if I had been the one that had lost something entirely beloved to me. And in a sense, I had.

What I failed to understand was how much of my son's childhood was bound up in that well loved, slightly smelly and never quite clean despite tri weekly trips though the washing machine, piece of blue material. Such was my son's love and affection for this inanimate object that by extension I saw the toy as part of him. So much of my son's early childhood, those almost three years of boisterous, sticky, joyous childhood were tied up in his friendship with Puppy Cullen and when Puppy Cullen was lost, the transient nature of these early years was brought home to me, how much has already passed and can never be regained. I felt like I'd lost part of my little boy's childhood and I was grieving for, not a little blue dog (or at least not just a little blue dog, because I'll miss that smelly little fella) but for part of my son's childhood that is over and done with.

As I watch my son grow with that pride that only a mother can feel for her children,I want so much for him. For him to be happy, for him to be safe, to never know real strife and hardship, for him to always know that he is loved. But it is bittersweet, I want our children to grow, to become increasingly independent and to know their own mind but I cannot help but to be wistful about what has already left us. The things that change so quickly that you sometimes need to stop yourself from wishing the time away in a flurry of 'please go to sleep/eat your dinner/ don't tease the cat/ stop licking your sister you know she doesn't like it'. Tomorrow I will no doubt be back to rescuing the Patchy Cat from the drawer in which the Boy Child has put her, wishing that for 5 minutes he would use someone else as a human railway track and despairing of the fact that his artistic medium seems to be felt tip pen on walls, but right now I'm going to savour his little boy impetuousness, his extremes of emotion, the mischievous look on his face as he sidles out of the kitchen with that banana I said no to because it's dinner time soon. I'm going to let both him and myself be sad for the fact that Puppy Cullen is gone and that part of his childhood is gone and can never come back. So long Puppy Cullen and I hope whoever found you loves you a fraction as much as your first best friend and you make your new friend as happy as you made the Boy Child.

1 comment:

  1. Sense of loss shared by Father as well... many great memories of the Puppy Cullen.