Age is a funny thing. When we are young, we can’t wait to hit those milestone birthdays – 10, we hit double digits; 13, we are officially teenagers; 16, celebrated in and of itself and for teens getting their driving permits; 18, we are finally adults and can vote and register for military service; 21, legal drinking age.
My daughter just hit one of those milestones this year. She turned 10 right before Christmas. A whole decade. It is difficult for me to believe, because I feel like just yesterday I was pregnant with her. And, I know she’s excited. And, I also see her looking forward to these other “milestone” birthdays. But, I also know the flip side. Having hit a milestone birthday myself in 2017 (I turned 40), I realize I don’t feel as old as my age suggests.
And, yes, I realize that 40 isn’t old.
But, it is interesting to think of age. It comes to mind especially because of some interactions I had at Rhode Island Comic Con and the most recent Steel City Con.
In Rhode Island, while sitting at my table, a man and a woman came by and were looking at my Luvvies. The woman was especially captivated by the snuggler Luvvies (like the ones above). As she looked at them she remarked that she wished she had a child that she could give one to. After she and her companion left, I started thinking….how sad was that statement?
She obviously felt comfort and a connection to the object, but didn’t feel it was appropriate because that is something “for a child.” I know that I am the one that makes the products, which is why you see my ugly mug so frequently, but I truly love cuddling with my stuffed animals. I still sleep with stuffed animals – although it is any wonder since I make them?
It just seems sad to me that we try to get people to compartmentalize or repress certain desires. Some of this correlates to a previous post I made about toys, and do we really have to emphasize “girl” and “boy” toys? Can’t we just let kids be kids and play with what makes them happy? Same with age. Why do we have a stigma that stuffed animals, or the snuggler Luvvies are just for kids? That may have been what they were originally intended for, but that doesn’t mean the usage can’t evolve.
I had similar encounters at the most recent Steel City Con; people would come over and look at my items and commend me on the craftsmanship, but would continually say they wish they had a child or a grandchild so they could give the Luvvies to the little ones as gifts. Why? Why does a stuffed animal have to be exclusive to a specific age bracket?
As we talk about this, I think about Charlie Brown. I loved Peanuts growing up – and still do. And I always found somewhat of wisdom from Linus. Yes, people tried to get him to give up his favorite blue security blanket, but he never did. That blanket grounded him, gave him comfort, and provided many different functions that often saved the day. And in the end, Linus didn’t care if others didn’t accept his blanket. His friends accepted the blanket was an extension of him; and Linus was just as loved and accepted in the Peanuts gang as everyone. I often wish that as we get older, we would learn that it is okay to accept that comfort when we need to – that sometimes we need emotional support, sometimes we just need a hug, even if it is from a stuffed animal.
I am not ashamed to admit that, at 41 years old, I still sleep with a stuffed animal every night. Until recently, most of the stuffed animals in my house were mine because I adore them, but now Desi and I share them probably 50/50. I have a stuffed animal on my desk at work that I often will grab to have a squeeze when times get overly stressful or I just need reassurance. Some people might pass my office and question that, but no one has drastic issues with it.
It makes me sad, in general and as a stuffed animal creator, that people seem to be ashamed if they like things that have been erstwhile labeled “children’s.” Once we reach a certain age, it is like we want to lock up that side of ourselves and never mention it again, like it is a dirty secret. Maybe that is why some individuals have difficulty with empathy and compassion in later life – they have worked so hard to repress an essential facet of their personality that it makes them callous, bitter, unable to relate to others, or to remember the simple joys of life.
I was so taken aback by the comment in Rhode Island that I didn’t have anything to respond: In Steel City, I tried to say that Luvvies are for all ages and don’t have to be specific to children, but usually people ignored that and were already moving on to the next, more age-appropriate, table.
I do hope that as I get out and meet more people and start posting more pictures on Instagram that this perception will change. That people will embrace their inner child, and even if they don’t purchase one of my Luvvies, they will open themselves to the experiences and love they have stifled to conform to someone else’s definition of age-appropriate.
Hugs and cuddles,