At a recent flea market trip, I stumbled upon a Popples stuffed animal. I used to have one as a kid, a small yellow one, with pink hair.
It was my favorite toy.
And I wanted it now.
Even as an adult, the memory of loving this stuffed animal, was overwhelming. I don’t remember the way that I played with it: if I carried it around or if I simply curled my body around it as I slept. I don’t even remember the cartoon. But that doesn’t matter. What matters is the feeling of nostalgia that it gave me. What matters is the desire to feel what I did as a child, to be reminded of the innocence I once had, before I was jaded by too many demands, pressures, and responsibilities.
Once I got the Popple home (because of course, we bought it), I washed it. The poor thing was ratty, its hair knotted, fur dingy, a couple of stains on the ears: it had been loved. After it was dry, I stood in the bathroom, unknotting its couple of strands of fur with my fingers and then carefully brushed the rest of the knots, trying not to pull too much of its synthetic hair out. When I was done, it looked like it had been shocked with a current of electricity.
My own hair is really short, and requires no products, but I do keep a thing of mousse around for emergencies. Unfortunately, this container is almost 7 years old and the top has came off, which makes it difficult to get any product out. But I decided to try to use this – I couldn’t leave the poor Popple looking like a mess.
After spending almost half an hour smoothing and trying to finger curl the fur, I realized that although this Popple isn’t the same one from my childhood, I still felt the same need to take care of it and love it the way that I used to.
I would make this Popple presentable.
It represents a piece of my childhood that I thought was long gone. It represents a time when I needed less to be happy. A time when it was not only acceptable but encouraged for me to get lost in my imagination. A time when I was allowed to play without feeling self-conscious or like I was going to be judged.
It represented a freedom of self.
I wish I could say that I know the secret of getting this feeling back. But I don’t. All I can do is recognize it and try to hold on to it for as long as possible. I can take joy in knowing that although my childhood is long gone, that somewhere inside of me is a child waiting to come out and play. The question is, will I let it?
Please, feel free to share: What was your favorite toy and how did it make you feel?