But we have imposter in the house.
For nearly 4 years, your blue bunny has barely left your side (not that he is blue anymore, but more of a grubby grey).
You slept with that bunny every single night, your fist clutched tightly around him as your chest rose and fell with each sleepy breath.
I have lots of pictures of you with bunny; right from the first day you arrived in the world.
Bunny came on aeroplanes and you held him up at the window to show him the snow-capped mountains below. Bunny went to nursery when you were little, in case you needed comfort or were tired. Bunny came on long car journeys to visit friends and relatives. And Bunny was clutched in your hand when you came to hospital to meet your baby brother for the very first time.
Always your sidekick.
Always your favourite.
An extension of you.
A reminder of your babyhood.
Until something happened.
We innocently picked up ‘Puppy’ during a trip to IKEA.
You spotted him and held out your arms like you’d found a long-lost member of your family. The look in your eyes was unnerving – but we agreed you could keep him as you’d been quite well behaved (and quite frankly didn’t want that to stop in the middle of a shop that causes more arguments than any other shop in the history of the world).
Your brother got a similar model – and you were both thrilled with your cuddly dogs, clutching them all the way to the checkout area. However, we fully expected them to be relegated to a shelf in your bedroom shortly afterwards and quickly forgotten about. After all, every other soft toy you have ever owned (bar Bunny, of course) has been discarded in a pile at the end of your cot or bed in a fit of ‘why are you trying to make me love these stuffed things?‘ rage.
In your brother’s case, that was very true. In fact, I don’t think he’s even looked at his stuffed dog since that morning – unless it was used as a ramp for his remote control car, that is.
But Puppy is different.
He has practically become a member of the family.
And I don’t like it.
You think it’s all very innocent, the ever-increasing presence of this floppy brown dog.
But let me enlighten you; he is an imposter.
Where was he when you were crying for milk as a newborn? When you felt unsettled at nursery as a toddler? When you were scared at take-off on an airplane? When you were frightened of the dark and needed something comforting to clutch?
I’ll tell you where he was! He was on a shelf in IKEA!
But Bunny was there. He never let you down.
Yet whenever I walk into your room at night to check on you after you’ve fallen asleep, it’s not Bunny lying across your little chest.
The new sidekick.
And Bunny lies at the end of the bed, discarded and unloved, face-planted in the duvet.
It’s like the story of Woody and Buzz all over again.
I know you’re growing up Stanley.
You are nearly 4 years old and let’s face it; the bunny rabbit with a grubby blanket attached was never going to make it to your teenage years.
But replaced so soon?
Cast aside without a second thought?
I’m not ready for that.
And I’m blaming that dog for everything.