This is Bunny, and this is Puppy. They are sacred.
When Sarcasm Girl was tiny, and far less sarcastic, Puppy and Bunny came into her life. Puppy was one of the 101 Dalmatians (I think Patch), although she has been through several names: Puppy, Pongo, Patch, Emily, and back to Puppy again. Bunny, brought back from the Worldcon in Scotland by my friend Claire (because her son Ben stayed with us while she was out of town) was added to the group a couple of years later. They are now Elder States Animals. And we never call them “stuffed animals.” Or “stuffies.” Or (as Grandma did once, to ripples of outrage) “dolls.” This was a pain in the ass: when you’re trying to help a kid make her bed, having to remember not to say “okay, first we get all the stuffies off the bed,” lest it touch off outrage, is…well, as I said: a pain in the ass. Eventually we settled on “Livestock” as the group term for Puppy and Bunny and their kinfolk.
Nowadays, the other Livestock are not so much in rotation around here. They (Rachel, the big bear; Gingerbear, the wiry handpuppet bear; Little Ski, the Scots terrier with the plaid tam-o-shanter; and a host of others) lurk around the edges of the room, but aren’t full-time companions to SG. Puppy and Bunny are. They may not draw breath, but they are, as we say around here, “differently living.”
The thing is, this attitude is catching. Or perhaps I’ve always had it, and infected the kid. Avocado, aka Younger Girl, doesn’t seem to have it. She’ll talk to her livestock when it occurs to her, but she doesn’t have the deep-down belief that on some level they’re living beings that SG has. But this morning I was making the bed and had to take Puppy and Bunny off to do so. I found myself apologizing to them and telling them I’d get them comfortably back on the bed in just a minute or two. Thinking about it, I realized that I’ve always talked to my Livestock (as well as to my children, my dogs, my car, my computer, and any number of inanimate objects).
Neither Sarcasm Girl nor I expect these objects to start talking back. This isn’t about psychosis; it’s about maintaining a comfortable sense of magic in the world. I have had, as long as I can remember, and farther back than I had the words to explain it, a powerful sense that the world has little standing pools of magic here and there, and they are to be respected. Closets, stairways, and doorways are places to find it; so are the bases of old trees, library stacks, and alleyways (preferably accessed through wrought-iron gates). Sarcasm Girl’s Livestock, I think, generate their own comfortable and comforting magic. So I don’t mind checking in with Puppy and The Bun when I move them around; just because I can’t hear them doesn’t mean they’re not talking back.