Thursday, December 22, 2011
Real Like That: Big Rabbit's Got Your Back
Imaginary friends are almost always depicted as only-child companions, for obvious reasons. We haven't seen one yet, nor is our son overly hooked on stuffed animals. I'm not trying to present him as some rare, enlightened child free of attachments: we have something in the ballpark of 437 matchbox cars to cancel that theory. But "loveys" -- that's the cloying term child-development books now assign to soft familiars like blankets and stuffed animals -- aren't really his thing.
With, ahem, two exceptions. There's "Blankie," a blue-and-green receiving blanket, worn down to silk, that's been with us since Beau's birth. Blankie spends his time between the couch and Beau's bed and isn't so much cherished as he is taken for granted, like an arm. And then there's Big Rabbit. He must have been an Easter gift, and he is hearty and tough, a realistic looking Dutch black-and-white plush animal without an ounce of preciousness to mar his character. He's like the street version of the Velveteen Rabbit. Real like that.
Big Rabbit isn't asked for every night: in fact, he's quite equal to spending a month at a time squashed between a mattress and a wall before being rescued, his stoic lack of expression intact. He is ever ready, though, to be conscripted into service. My sister, Beau's aunt "Nonny," is the only one who can reliably voice Big Rabbit. "BOOM, BOOM," she growls, as he plows down whole rows of Legos with his long hind feet. Big Rabbit has a talent for wanton destruction, much to the delight of his young master.
I was surprised when Beau asked that his stuffed animal come to the Christmas pageant at his preschool, because lately my son has been showing an acute social consciousness, acting as humiliated as a teenager if I sing in the car (to cite but one example). But I should have remembered: Big Rabbit can play it slick. If you invite him to attend your show, he will fold back his ears, hide in your aunt's canvas messenger bag, and observe the entire proceedings from the church pew without, say, flashing a camera, tearing up, or trying to get your attention by waving frantically at you. He's a keeper.