There’s a place where plush toys come to life, there are countries and battles, injuries, blood and death. It’s tough in Pet World. It’s hard, long, brutal, but days can be rewritten and yesterday’s injured can become tomorrow’s heroes.
Pet World is the invention of my middle son.
PVP writes pages and pages of stories set in Pet World, his characters are his collection of plush lions and tigers and bears. He supplements his World with plastic war toys – jeeps, tanks, an aircraft carrier. When PVP and his brother are getting along (it happens) Pet World wars can rage all day spilling from PVP’s bedroom across the hardwood to Stephen King Junior’s.
PVP loves his plush animals. He’s worn the stripes off his favourite, Tigery, and his toy dog, Doggie, smells like mouth. Tigery’s stripes may be missing but in Pet World he’s the hero, he’s the go-to-toy, and yep, sometimes the hero dies.
On the weekend PVP went with his dad to the beach where after a swim they joined friends at their beach house. He’s not the tallest, he’s not the most athletic, and he plays with toys. He copped a bit of stick from a girl there who refused to believe he’s thirteen because he brought Tigery along and he’s small (his smiles aren’t small).
Isn’t it funny that if he’d brought plastic guns from home nobody would have a problem with it? Guns. That if the stories he wrote, which are basically war stories, had people instead of ‘pets’, it’d be a perfectly fine, terrific, masculine, thing to do. Instead, he’s perceived as babyish and effeminate. I hate having to tell PVP to leave his toys at home, that the other people might not understand, and that he may make himself a target.
Our kids aren’t kids for very long. PVP has only five or so years left until he gets to join the rat race like the rest of us. He’ll know about bills, and work, and towing the line. He’ll have his gorgeous corners knocked off soon enough.
I love the ‘childish’ nature of my middle son. I love his sense of wonder and amazement, he still looks like he did when he was in his pram and seeing things for the first time, wow, a leaf, wow, a sunset, wow, a crack in the footpath. I remember admiring, and being a little jealous of, his joy at all the new things.
So he’s giddy. And he’s excitable. He’s loving. And he talks a mile a minute. He has ADD, he has a hearing deficit, he has trouble making friends, but he wrings the joy out of everything he does. PVP is joyous. Maybe there is a naiveté to joy. Maybe you gotta let go of external concerns, the time, what am I going to wear, and whatever will people think, to experience joy.
Do you remember joy?