When Elvis sang ‘Won’t you be my Teddy Bear’ to a prospective girl-friend all those years ago, he was tugging at an emotional string in all of us. That is our relationship with our childhood stuffed animals and, particularly for most of us, a stuffed teddy bear.
Our love affair with these toys begins in early childhood and follows on right through to adulthood with many people holding on to their stuffed lion, plush puppy or teddy bear into middle age and beyond.
Strangely enough, this association only started at the beginning of the last century when the German Steiff company created a stuffed bear made from a plush, fur-like fabric in 1903. Simultaneously, a US company produced a stuffed bear that was based on a cartoon showing President Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt with a bear cub, hence the name ‘Teddy Bear’ which stuck.
Boys and girls of all classes, creeds and nationalities can identify with having a toy cuddly teddy bear. A giant stuffed bear would be just that much more ‘cuddlesome’, while for a small child it would be a comforting presence, a sort of guardian protecting it from danger and, thus, endowing it with live, grown-up characteristics.
A giant stuffed bear is more than a toy. It’s an unquestioning, non-judgmental companion, a friend to talk to, play with or give a big hug to. It can help develop a child’s imagination and a child’s imagination is infinite. A child with a nurtured imagination can better express himself/herself. It also helps to develop language and communication skills.
A giant stuffed bear helps children play and this, in turn, helps to develop their social skills – play is learning. Even as a child grows older a teddy bear is rarely discarded. A child creates new friends among its own age group, goes to school, plays new games and sports, becomes immersed in the latest technological wizardry.
The giant stuffed bear waits patiently at home, the object of triumphal hugs for the day’s little victories or a shoulder to cry on to help alleviate the day’s little setbacks. It becomes a pillow for a weary little head at nap time, a sofa seat to share with a friend while watching TV cartoons or teen dramas, a punch-bag to absorb the frustrations of watching TV sport and it’s the constant bed-time companion.
This bear has to be soft, cuddly and comfortable. It has to be tough and resilient, able to tolerate tears, liquid spills, sick, being thrown around and kicked around and multiple runs through the washing machine.
A giant stuffed bear is a lifelong friend which will have significant sentimental value when childhood is long over, awakening cherished memories. Every child deserves one.