So it’s ‘write a human interest piece week’ for TAFE this week, which also happened to coincide with Kimmy the pet panda from BJ’s class coming home.
As a result, this blog post just wrote itself.
She might look happy, but Kimmy’s smile hides her secret pain. This is a bear without a home; a teddy with no one to love her.
When I sat down to talk to Kimmy on the weekend, she didn’t say a lot. But then she didn’t really need to. The haphazard way in which she had been abandoned on the couch said more than her sewn on mouth ever could. It was there that I heard her story.
Kimmy, like most stuffed animals, has always dreamed of being loved. She hoped to have a child take her home and make her their ‘special teddy.’ Her dreams included snuggling in bed on cold winter’s mornings, being dragged to parks and cafes and the houses of friends. She longed to feel the euphoria of being pushed around in a doll’s stroller, the fear of thinking she was left in a shopping centre trolley, and the satisfaction of being the only one able to calm a tearful kindy kid. Kimmy never wanted much in life; only to be loved, the way she knows she can love others.
And she is. In a way that some toys never are; children fight over her and beg to take her home. They write stories about their activities with her, and draw pictures of their times together. She’s gone to sleep overs and church, and football games. She’s played with other toys, been to Subway, and visited the beach more times than any other stuffed animal ever has. But none of that can make up for the feelings of displacement and confusion that Kimmy battles with on a daily basis. The constant wondering about her identity, and where in the world, she actually belongs.
Kimmy is the victim of a nation wide epidemic, sweeping through Australian primary schools. A terrifying situation, the tales of which haunt the sales rack of department stores, and the conveyor belt of toy production lines.
Kimmy, is a class teddy.
Like many other dogs, bears and even the occasional crocodile before her, Kimmy was hand selected by a teacher to be a fun learning tool for a classroom. She spends her weeks trapped inside a special plastic bag waiting for the weekend, when she is farmed out to a pre-selected child; a decision which she has no say in. She is then subjected to a weekend full of ‘interesting’ activities, forced to have her photo taken repeatedly, and occasionally thrown through the washing machine when landing in the home of a germaphobic parent.
Kimmy is often read to and snuggled, and played with for an entire weekend, which, she admits, is great. But she spends all week wondering where Friday will take her – and how well she will be received. Kimmy has seen the looks that pass over the faces of mothers, when she comes home; the barely concealed frustration of a woman who is trying to be gracious about now having an extra toy to supervise, and weekend homework to complete. If she could somehow make them see that she doesn’t mean to be a pain, and that all she really needs is someone to love her for a few days, she is sure they wouldn’t be so upset.
Of course sometimes she acknowledges that she loves too much, and there is a hole left in the family when she goes back to school. She tries to be brave, but seeing the tears of heartbroken children is a painful reality of her lot in life, and she’s gradually learning to shut herself off from it.
For Kimmy, life is not like it is for other teddy bears. It’s unpredictable, unfulfilling, and more than occasionally, uncomfortable. But despite the fear of the unknown, and her own resultant identity issues, Kimmy is determined to continue do what she knows how to do best: love small children, in any way that they need it.
And she’s doing it well. 🙂
Have you had a ‘Kimmy’ come to stay at your place?
Are you a fan of class teddys?
Does anyone else feel the need to bathe them in hand sanitiser? 😉