My little girl's favourite toy is a little guy with the big purple eyes, and his name is Monkey. Monkey with a capital ‘M’ – he goes by no other name. We acquired Monkey during a trip to the toy shop around the time of our little one's first birthday. It wasn’t love at first sight for me, but she would not put him down, and so he came home with us (we did pay for him! I promise!).
Like many other toys he settled into life in the toy basket, now and again being pulled out and discarded before being thrown back, never really making the cut with our the one-year-old who was way more interested in Iggle Piggle at that stage. Then, one day, just like that, he became so much more important than the others. It was as if she had made him a secret promise that she would never leave his side. And suddenly Monkey came everywhere! No longer were we a family of three, we were most definitely a family of four, with Monkey elevated to the position of favourite toy, comforter and constant companion.
"I worry that in years to come she won’t remember how important he was."
I’ll let you in on a little secret; he stinks, he looks like he has cataracts and his fur is quite matted, but none of this matters to our little girl. He is her Monkey. That is until quite recently. Don’t get me wrong, he still holds the esteemed position of number one bedtime companion, but I’m starting to notice that’s he’s not hanging around (like a bad smell) quite as much as he used to, and although I don’t miss the brief panic when I hear the words ‘where’s Monkey?’ I’m feeling rather sad about this slow separation.
With our daughter now settling into primary school and her horizons broadening she has made new friends and developed new interests. She has become very confident and outgoing, and she doesn’t seem to need Monkey for comfort anymore.
Not so very long ago she would not go to playgroup without him. She held his hand tightly wherever we went. He came shopping with us, out for dinner with us (and never once offered to pay) and, on the one occasion that we were allowed to wash him, our little girl stood by the machine the whole time. I loved her steadfast commitment to Monkey, and as she grows and he slowly slips away I worry that in years to come she won’t remember how important he was. In saying that, my best friend brought her comforter to uni with her, so all is not lost!
Monkey is in almost every photo of us up until a few months into nursery school, and then he’s just not there, replaced by friends of another kind. I’m glad she’s able to stand alone without him (my husband used to joke that he would be walking them both up the aisle), but in true Toy Story fashion I can’t help but wonder what Monkey thinks of it all. He has been a truly loyal companion, a comfort to a shy little girl until she found her voice, and a comfort to her mummy when I handed her over to playgroup knowing she’d be OK if she had Monkey.
Monkey has not changed, but our girl has, so much, and so quickly. I don’t think she’ll ever fully separate from her trusted pal, but I might start giving him cuddles while she’s at school, just to make sure that he knows that I know how he feels. Because now that she’s a bit older and so much more independent she doesn’t grip my hand quite as tightly anymore either.