This is “Fuzzy Shoes” – she’s the newest member of our family, although I must admit I borrowed the name from the daughter of an old friend. It was the name she gave her hamster.
We got Fuzzy Shoes last Thursday at Timeless Toys; actually Marcia bought her for me after my having walked around the store with her for about twenty minutes. The three of us caught a bus downtown, and after dropping Marcia off at her appointment Fuzzy Shoes and I walked around downtown, went into a few stores and eventually walked home. We had fun, but it was intriguing to me to watch people’s reactions to her wherever we went. Okay, so she’s a little big for a mouse, but she’s much too small for a Pookah even though she has the ears (they are shapeshifters, though… hmmm…)
What intrigued me the most was not people’s initial reactions to her – which varied from screams, shock and, occasionally, fear (one young woman wouldn’t let us within 3 metres of her and simply wanted us to go away) to delight, ear scratching and petting – but what followed that. Almost invariably people would come around to some variation of, “Oh, it’s a puppet.” or “I thought it was real.” Even the staff at the toy store admitted being ‘fooled’, and they work there. Having made such an assertion, people tend to announce it to their associates and those in their immediate vicinity, especially the children. Fuzzy Shoes and I do our best not to be offended by such comments; after all, they’re invariably made by adults, and adults for the most part don’t even remember that they have forgotten.
As the ‘Skin Horse‘ knows (and would tell you once you learned how to listen), being ‘real’ isn’t how you’re made. It happens when a child loves you – not just to play with. When a child really loves you, you become real. It’s a process, and sometimes it hurts a little, but when you’re real sometimes you don’t mind being hurt a little.
I shared this story once before in our ‘Being Green – The Future of Education‘ post; it’s one of my favourites. The author is unknown to me, but much appreciated!
A man went into a Kindergarten classroom, walked up to the blackboard and put a dot in the middle of the board. He stood back and asked the class, “What is it?” He got about a hundred answers… “It’s a bird.” “It’s a cloud.” “It’s a snowflake.” “It’s a freckle.” And on and on. The same man went into a 2nd Yr. University Physics class, walked up to the blackboard and put a dot in the middle of the board. He stood back and asked, “What is it?” There was dead silence in the room for several minutes. Finally one student raised a hand, and when prompted, offered, “It’s equidistant from the four corners.” The rest of the class was immediately relieved that the answer had been found.
Remember how to play. Imagine. Learn to listen to the Skin Horse, and love things enough to let them be real. As for me? “I do believe in fairies! I do! I do!!”