14 October 2012

Best Friends Don't Have to be Human

When I was pregnant with Teddy, my step-mom took me shopping for fabric so she could make pillows and blankets for the baby.  One of the pieces of fabric we picked out was a soft blue flannel with pale yellow moons and stars on it.  From that piece of material, she made a small body pillow, a small pillow and a blanket.  There were other things as well, but none of them have been as important in our lives as these three items.

At various times when he was old enough to move around well on his own, we'd put different pillows and blankets in his bed for him to sleep with.  And it wasn't long before he had a favorite - the body pillow.  Every night, he'd snuggle up with it, holding it tight.  We didn't think much of even that until one night, when the pillow was on the floor, he started crying "Bodie!  Bodie!"  We had no idea what he was talking about until we realized where he was pointing - right at the pillow.  As soon as we handed it to him, he calmed down and fell asleep.

From that point forward, Bodie was Teddy's constant companion.  He came to the store with us, to the park, walking over to get the mail.... it didn't matter.  If Teddy was coming somewhere, so was Bodie.  Only once did we make the mistake of leaving Bodie behind - on a long-weekend trip to visit our family in the Northeast.  About an hour into our drive, Teddy told us he'd forgotten Bodie.  We didn't want to turn around and go back because we were half way to Knoxville by then, so we told him that Bodie would be ok at home and he'd be ok without Bodie.  Um... wrong.  The trip wasn't bad, but stopping for the night and trying to get him to sleep.... miserable.  From that point forward, we always double checked on Bodie.

As he got older, he'd tell us little things about Bodie.  Bodie was afraid of the dark.  He didn't like to lie a certain way.  He got really lonely if he needed to be left in the car for any reason.  Bodie was as real to Teddy as any flesh and blood friend.  Actually, I shouldn't say "was", because he is still that real to Teddy.  While he doesn't bring him to school, he needs to have him to sleep with every night and between a quarter and half the time we go somewhere, Teddy asks if he can bring Bodie.  Because he's still Teddy's best friend.

You can see Bodie, clutched in Teddy's hand while he sleeps with his other friends, LadyBug and Piplup.

A few months before my step-mom passed away, she noticed how worn Teddy's best friend was getting.  We'd had to repair him a couple times, the stuffing was bunching at the two ends from Teddy holding Bodie in the middle.  She asked me to bring the blanket to her and she'd make a second Bodie.  This way, if anything happened to the first one, he could have another nearby.  It turned out there wasn't enough fabric in the blanket to make a new body pillow, so she made two larger sized head pillows instead.  I don't know if she had a sense that these pillows would be as important as Bodie or not, but on the corner of one of the pillows she left a tag that reads, "Made with Love by Grandma".

Teddy was never interested in the two larger pillows, though I made sure to keep them safe, especially after Mom Sue passed away.  It was something that she'd made with love for her grandson.  Maybe Teddy would want that some day, maybe for his own kids.  But Pete had other plans.

I don't even remember how it happened.  Maybe I gave them to Pete.  Maybe he found them.  But just like Teddy with Bodie, he quickly became attached to these two larger pillows.  From the time he got his toddler bed, they needed to be with him every night.  And when he found the little pillow, that needed to be there as well.  And, like with Bodie in the beginning, we thought it was just a pillow preference.  Until he started carrying them around everywhere.  Soon, he told us their names.  One was Mommy Plo, one was Daddy Plo and the little one was Baby Plo.  He could always tell the difference between Mommy and Daddy Plo and was very upset if he asked for one and you brought him the other.  It took me a little while to figure out how to tell the difference - Mommy Plo has the tag on her.

And like Teddy with Bodie, Pete needs his best friends with him.  When he's feeling uncomfortable or shy, nervous or tired, you will often see him with one Plo in his left hand, Baby Plo under his arm, his right thumb in his mouth and the fingers of that hand clutching tightly to the last Plo.  Plo comes out with us to restaurants, to the library, to visit friends - much like Bodie.  And every night, when he goes to sleep, he needs his friends in their places on his bed, right where he can snuggle them.  And if even one is missing, he'll run downstairs to get it.  Because you never leave a friend behind.

Peter, snuggled on the couch with his Spongebob Blanket and his best friend giving him a place to rest.

I often wonder when the boys will leave Bodie and Plo behind.  I'm sure it will happen.  It does with all children.  But I plan on keeping them, even when their friends have gotten to big for such things.  And when their older, I hope they remember them, maybe ask for them back for their own kids.

There is a song on the CD that the boys' listen to at night as their falling asleep that brings a smile to my face every time I heard it.  It's called, "I'm Your Pillow" and it's on Bill Harley's Town Around the Bend.  The song is the pillow, talking about how the child needs to sleep and settle down, maybe turn him over for the cooler underside.  I could imagine my boys' friends having this conversation with them.  But there's once verse that really brings it home, that I am thinking of writing out, framing and putting on their wall because it fits them all perfectly.  Here are the lyrics:

Yeah it's silly
Don't believe it
But I promise you it's true
Lots of people really love you
But your pillow loves you too

One day you'll be all grown up
I'll be nothing, skin and bones
But I helped you to get bigger
Don't forget me when you're grown
     - "I'm Your Pillow" by Bill Harley, (The Town Around the Bend)

And as I hear it,  I know that Bill is singing to them on behalf of Bodie, Mommy Plo, Daddy Plo and Baby Plo.  And it makes me smile.

Acting Balanced