Stuffed animal/kid friendships are a classic topic for parents. Mom blogger Sandra Telep tells us about the place held in her household by (and poignant backstory of) her son Leo's best bud, an orangutan he's dubbed William Jess.
Leo, like so many young kids his age, has a special toy – a stuffed orangutan named William Jess – that is very dear to him. It was given to him when he was a newborn and was one of the first toys that he gave an official name to. "William Jess" may not be a common name, but Leo was very clear in his motivation, even then, over a year ago, when he was still a newer talker. The "Jess" is after jb and "William" is after his favorite singer – "William Darlings" aka Dar Williams.
William Jess' home is on Leo's bed, but he's often out and about in our home following Leo on whatever adventure he's on that day. I'm loath to let him leave the house, because I've scoped the options for replacing him and they are few and expensive. Not to mention that I'm sure it just wouldn't be the same.
The fur wouldn't be properly matted, the several different shades of brown/tan thread where it's been mended several times would be missed, the body wouldn't be appropriately floppy from missing 1/4 of those tiny plastic beads he was once stuffed full of, and the fragrance of a well-loved toy…well, that takes a while to cultivate. Still, Leo does want him to come with us on longer trips, so William Jess has seen beyond the walls of our home.
He's gone missing a few times – but we were sure he was somewhere in the house. Leo took it in stride, but was quite sad to be tucked in without his dear friend by his side. Thankfully, William Jess always seems to turn back up.
A few months back, Zoe took a shining to William Jess and Leo was NOT happy about it. My sister found a similar-looking monkey and gave it to Zoe. She couldn't tell the difference and was happy enough with arrangement. Leo decided that this new monkey was William Jess' cousin and named him Gumbar. I have NO idea where that name came from.
Recently Leo has begun to tell us a bit of William Jess' back story. Apparently he is an orphan. Both his parents died of cancer, but he has a grandma that loves him very much. He comes to our house because he likes what we cook for dinner, he enjoys hanging out with us and he misses being part of a big family.
I hope William Jess sticks around for a long time. I share Leo's sentiment when he so often declares, "He's so special to me."
Sandra Telep is a West Philadelphia mom of two. This post is adapted from her blog, West Philly Mama.