Sometimes a Plush Bear is Just a Plush Bear

I found this on Patheos pagan, called When Your Kid’s Stuffie Gets Soul What do you Do? and it’s quite the read. Now, if dissecting this sort of article isn’t your thing, then don’t click past the jump. Everyone else? Let’s get the road on the show, shall we?

So this one time the Mommy Chauffeur Service is in transit and my eldest is probably about nine or ten and she tells me, “So, my dolls have been arguing again.”

Uhh, whut?

That was my reaction exactly. Whut?! My toys didn’t argue unless I was playing with them and nine times out of ten, the “drama” was over within an hour. My plushies got along pretty darned well when I was playing with them. When I wasn’t, they simply sat on the shelf where I placed them because they were inanimate objects.

It was the same with my action figures as well. My lone Go-bot didn’t try to pick a fight with Bumblebee. My G2 Megatron didn’t try to yank on the tail of my Beast Wars Fuzor Silverbolt. They stood on their shelves and did nothing, said nothing because they were just plastic figures. Sure, it would have been really cool if they had been sentient, but then again, I’d have been dealing with a Cybertronian war in my bedroom.

Yeah, that would not have been so fun. But I digress on this matter. The author continues:

I ask for more details on this dolly drama and it turns out that both of them have been having problems with their dolls and stuffies. Their dolls have been talking. My daughters hear them in their minds. Apparently the group dynamics have gone south and they can’t deal with the stress of trying to make sure all their dolls get along. I am informed that the stuffies are less traumatizing. The fluffy ones are nicer, I guess.

So Barbie and her friends are catty as hell, I take it? Why am I not surprised? Oh wait. This isn’t freaking real. If it is, we have a major problem.

Okay, I get that the children in question are hearing things in their minds. I can mentally call up Bumblebee’s voice and have him say something inspiring just to pull myself out of a bad mood. I can pull together bits and pieces of my husband’s voice and things he’s said to me sometimes in order to cheer myself up. That doesn’t mean I’m actually talking to Bumblebee on the astral plane–as cool as that would be–or I’m telepathically communicating with Prime. (If I were, he’d be mentally screaming, “HEY! Get the FUCK out of my head!” Just trust me on that one.) Now, I’m thinking that what’s going on in this case is similar to that: just a couple of kids’ imaginations running wild. The other option is scarier. I don’t want to think about that one.

I imagine this is not a very odd experience. Honestly, it’s not that surprising of a thing to think that stuffed animals might gain a soul. There is after all a famous book all about such a thing: The Velveteen Rabbit.

The Velveteen Rabbit was a book. It was fiction. This was a story about a child’s toy who became real because the child loved it that much. But this wasn’t an autobiography. It was just a story in a child’s book.

If a plush rabbit had managed to gain sapience and sentience, we would know about it. There would be headlines in newspapers all over the globe. Everyone would know about this. It would be news everywhere. But it hasn’t happened. Why? Because a plush bunny is exactly that: a simple stuffed toy. It will not suddenly turn into a real live rabbit because a small child hopes and wishes that it would. Reality doesn’t work that way, I fear.

…I started to trot out the reassuring mom speak, telling them that everything was fine, they’re just stuffies… “How are you feeling? Do you need to talk about your emotional state, sweetie?” But then my spiritwork training kicked in and I wondered.

What if these dolls and stuffies were acting as spirit houses for actual spirits?

Well, that can’t be possible. Spirits do not exist. Ghosts aren’t real. Elves, fairies, gnomes and the like do not exist in this world. None of that sort of thing is real.

This put a whole new and less purely psychological spin on the whole thing. If we assume that non-corporeal beings are real, or at least that interacting with the world in a way in which we assume spirits are real is useful, then we have a whole other set of tools with which to address such issues.

Actually, I assume that things of this nature do not exist. See, I interact with the real world and in the real world, toys do not have sapience.

After thinking about it for a bit, this is what I told my kids:

  • You can tell you stuffies to be kind and stop arguing.  They’re your stuffies. You’re allowed.
  • You don’t have to manage their issues.  The stuffies and dolls can sort their own issues out. It’s not your job manage their dolly drama.
  • Always remember, kindness and compassion first, with people and with spirits.
  • Sometimes giving offerings to your spirit friends can be helpful,  but don’t leave food in your room.  Milk and honey might be a traditional offering, but feeding the mice is a bad plan.  Make sure to offer it and then leave it outside.
  • If all else fails, get mom and we can kick that spirit to the road.  If you’re not happy with your inhabited spirit buddy toys they don’t have to stay.

Or you can realize that none of this is actually real. We can try that and hey, it will probably work better than all of this metaphysical BS.

Okay… so it ends up being pretty psychological. But it’s a big difference to assume it’s all in the kid’s head, versus assuming that it might well be them picking up on actual spirit psychology. It’s external versus internal psychology. It does seem that sensitivity to spirits can run in families, so it’s not unreasonable to think that if Mom, Dad, or Aunt Irene were tuned into the family ancestors or talked to the little gnomes that lived in the back yard, then their descendants might too.

And Aunt Irene was also thought of as the town crazy person, wasn’t she?

Let’s be honest here: there are also other things that can run in families that are a lot less charming and a lot more harmful. I don’t want to think of this as the case but it very well could be. Gnomes living in the backyard? That’s a fairy tale. Science has proven that gnomes are not A Thing That Exists. Fairies are the same. Unicorns existed, but they were nothing like their portrayal in any storybooks. Mermaids are not a thing. Spirits and ghosts? They also aren’t a thing.

I know. The real world sucks. It would be so nice if the real world didn’t have crap like science and reality mucking it all up; then dolls could carry on conversations with their owners and plush bunnies could become flesh and blood. But reality doesn’t work that way. It never did.

Kids will develop their own personal lived interactions with the sacred if given the opportunity. Sometimes it’s not exactly what we as parents expect. By respecting your kids lived experience it can really help them to learn to live more comfortably with themselves and with the spirits. I’ve continued to be fascinated by how my daughters interact with their spirit friends and the gods. In particular I think parents today have a real opportunity to re-write how the next generation interacts with such things. For generations anything that smacked of “ghosts” was relegated to fearful and creepy. If it wasn’t angels or God it was bad. But there’s a whole big world of non-corporeal beings and like humans, most are a mix of good and bad. We can give our kids a boost in life by letting them in on these things now rather than having them figure it all out as adults as so many of us had to.

Again, you don’t have to figure any of this out. It. Isn’t. Fucking. REAL.

There are no spirits. No ghosts. No unseen phantoms. What exists in this world is real and it is provable. It can be measured by scientific methodology. And it sure as heck doesn’t include catty conversations between Barbie and her so-called friends… unless the words are coming from the lips of the young girl holding the doll.

About Silverwynde

I'm a Transformers fan, Pokémon player, Brewers fan and all-out general nerd. I rescue abandoned Golett, collect as many Bumblebee decoys and figures as I can find and I've attended every BotCon--official and non--since 1999. I'm also happily married to a fellow Transfan named Prime and we were both owned by a very intelligent half-Siamese cat, who crossed the Rainbow Bridge on June 16, 2018. We still miss him. But we're now the acting staff of a Maine Coon kitty named Lulu, who pretty much rules the house. Not that we're complaining about that.
This entry was posted in And Now For Something Completely Different, Cartoon Logic, Religion and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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