When we were pregnant, we decided to wait until our baby was born to see, as my Aunt Timi says, if it was “equipped” or “un-equipped.” As such, we had to come up with a nursery theme that worked for either gender. We fell in love with the Fisher Price Rainforest line, right when they began to discontinue the line. The bedding, the jumperoo, the high chair — everything was vanishing fast! (Just like the rainforest…get it? Anyhoo….) So we were very happy to pick up what we could of the line and, along the way, bought items that would complement the nursery’s theme.
Like this guy. Cute cheetah, right? Cheetahs live in the rainforest. We got him at Kohl’s through the Kohl’s Cares program. $5 gets you a stuffed animal and the proceeds are donated to charity. The Kohl’s Cares program rotates characters throughout each year (right now it’s Clifford the Big Red Dog) and products move pretty fast because they’re so reasonably priced. We bought a lot of other stuffed animals along the way, including an alligator (IKEA), a hippo (Kohl’s Cares), and lots and lots of lions. For some reason, lions are prolific at the toy store.
As we continue along this journey of parenthood, we learn lessons every day. One big lesson? You have no control over what stuffed animal will magically be transformed into your child’s lovey. One day, it’s just a lump on the shelf. The next? The lump is your child’s best friend. I can’t remember the moment that the cheetah was transformed into Hobbes. I don’t even remember how old Nate was when it happened but it was before he was diagnosed with autism. What I do remember is that he liked the way Hobbes felt. Nate would pet Hobbes, rub the tip of Hobbes’ tail against his face, and snuggle tight with him in bed. And Nate loves to kiss Hobbes. At the start, “kisses” meant fierce bites on the nose but, as Nate’s matured, I’ve caught him staring lovingly into his best friend’s eyes and giving him a wee smooch on his sweet, furry nose. Hobbes is so loved that he even has his own PECS card and is often used as a motivator in therapy.
As Hobbes became more loved and started to fall apart, we had my friend Erin paint a custom portrait of Nate’s pal which hangs in his nursery. (Erin painted the portrait from the first picture in this entry. Awesome, right? Go look at her other portraits or get one for yourself at First Friends.) All the while, we wondered if Nate would outgrow Hobbes before he fell apart. Nate’s buddy has taken numerous baths, which has caused him to lose body mass. His freckles are falling off. His nose is a new shade of white-yellow. In other words, Hobbes is really, really loved. And while Nate has accepted an occasional sub, no one was greeted with the same joy as his spotted friend. Each night, as we tucked Nate in with his buddy, Chad and I had the same thought: What if Hobbes bites the dust before Nate’s ready to give him up? So we made a family decision: we needed to find Hobbes 2.0.
Guess what? When Kohl’s Cares animals are discontinued, they become collector’s items. I could only find Hobbes’ relatives on eBay. All were used (and what that meant was unclear). The cheapest one was $25 before astronomical shipping fees. So, I decided we didn’t need a duplicate Hobbes because some ding dong wasn’t going to sucker me into paying a ton of money for a $5 toy just because my son loved his own to bits and pieces.
Weeks and weeks go by, and I’m still secretly looking for a replacement. I finally find someone on eBay who has no clue what he’s got. $19.99 gets me Hobbes and his buddy, Lion, with free shipping. They were “used” but it was pretty clear that they’d just sat on some kid’s shelf, unloved, and it was time for them to move along. SOLD. Hobbes 2.0 was safely delivered to our home. But as I unwrapped Hobbes 2.0, I realized we had a huge problem. Hobbes 2.0 is too new.
Nate notices details. His whole life is in the details and the loss of some of Hobbes’ details, like his freckles, is what made him Nate’s best friend. Hobbes 2.0? Perfect freckles. Lots of them. And his nose area was a pristine white, not the off-white/borderline yellow that our Hobbes’ nose had become. Not to mention that this Hobbes still had upper body support. Our Hobbes had lost the stuffing between his arm joints and belly, making it a floppy task to sit up straight.
After a welcome-to-our-home bath, Nate was introduced to Hobbes 2.0 while Hobbes the First took a well deserved break. There was a lot of staring involved. Nate studied Hobbes 2.0. He counted freckles and turned him over and around and upside down. And then? To my relief, Nate welcomed Hobbes 2.0 into the fold. Nate introduced 2.0 to Curious George and they’ve been best pals ever since.