I bought a teddy for a pound and it didn’t really mean anything to the small child that I gave it to.
This child walked around, often alone. This child didn’t say much and didn’t quite understand what we said. He didn’t eat and was terrified if we left him before he was asleep
We said ‘this is YOUR teddy’ and he wandered off.
Today he carried the teddy downstairs and read stories with it. He sat it beside him on the table while he drank his milk and ate his tea. He carried it up the stairs and set it on the floor while he brushed his teeth and put his pyjamas on. He left it in the bathroom. We read a story that he adores and is learning by heart – we turned out the light and he gasped:
‘Where’s MY teddy?’
I looked for it but the child was gone – back to the bathroom where he knew he had left it.
I swallowed a lump in my throat and blinked back some tears.
He padded back to bed, cuddled his teddy and went to sleep.
You see, when children come to stay and live here they don’t often bring things with them – and things matter.
I cared that he didn’t have a teddy and found one for him in a charity shop.
He didn’t care that I’d bought him one and he does now.
Over the years of his little life I’ve seen a lot of things be transient for him- clothes, toys, photos. I ‘ve wondered what objects of sentimenal value he will have as he grows, because things tell stories and hold memories. Things are evocative. I have a dream that this teddy might be a source of memory and comfort for him surviving this current status and period and one day being found stuffed in a box by a future partner, being lifted out to show a future son or daughter.
Right now the teddy is going most places – milk spilt, toothpaste dripped, muddy puddles and swimming pool floors – perhaps he’ll have some of his fur loved off, a few stains, some loose threads. I’d like to hope he’ll start to pat around for the teddy in his sleep.
Things are symbols, things are precious, things are home, they are are place. Having your own things in this part of the world, make you feel important.
I can’t get the image of him padding back to bed with his teddy out of my head – I think he’s beginning to feel valued and safe.