When Kylie was 6 months old, I was walking around a bookstore with her strapped in a Baby Bjorn when she reached out and grabbed a stuffed penguin right off the shelf. She immediately pulled it in. Of all the fancy books and toys there she could have shoplifted, she chose him. She was not letting that penguin go. Ever.
The name on the penguin’s tag was “Waddles”, but in baby talk that translated to “Wa-Wa” and the name stuck. Wa-Wa became her “lovey” and another member of the family. Seriously, we have to make cupcakes for his birthday. Seven years later, he barely has any stuffing left, and his head kind of hangs to one side from years of hugging and being chewed on. He has required approximately five “surgeries” (re-stitching), and despite his frequent trips to the “spa” (washing machine) he looks a hot mess on most days. Kylie has had many other shiny, stuffed penguins gifted to her over the years but she’s loyal to Wa-Wa. We even bought her an identical stuffed penguin to the one she has (in case she ever lost him), but she knows which one the original is (she can tell by his eyes). As she grows, her interests in other things change, but her love for the penguin remains, no matter what. He is so loved by this little girl and while I can’t see the magic the way Ky does, I’m betting that he loves her back just as much. Who knows, maybe he really does talk back to her in a secret penguin language only she can hear.
We could all use a stuffed penguin that is always there for us, but it might get a little #awkward if we all walked around with our “stuffies” after the age of 10. But as Kylie and I were talking before bed the other night about why she loves Wa-wa so much, I realized that having a penguin for her is a lot like how we as adults need to have that one human that is “our person.” The one who knows everything about us – the good, the bad, and the possibly illegal – yet somehow loves us without judgment or condition. The one who is our partner in crime and can make us laugh till we cry or pee! The one who always tells us the truth in life, even if it’s hard to hear. They are there to put their arms around us when we feel scared and to change our view when we are mad at the world. Your “person” is the first one you want to celebrate good news with and the one you call at 4:00 a.m. with whatever kind of emergencies tend to happen at that hour. (Your 4:00 a.m. person is kind of a big deal). They are your favorite co-pilot on an adventure and your comfort in any storm.
When I asked Kylie why she loved her penguin so much, she didn’t even hesitate to rattle off the reasons:
- He’s my best friend.
- I’ve loved him for so long.
- He’s funny.
- We play together.
- When I’m scared, I hold his flipper.
- I miss him when I’m at school.
- When I get home I tell him what happened in my day and if, like, a friend was mean to me, he tells me a connection he had and we feel better.
- When I am happy I throw him in the air, but I always catch him. Well…most of the time.
- He calms me when I am mad and sits with me if I get sent to my room (eye-roll).
- When I am nervous for a doctor’s appointment, he comes with me. He doesn’t like shots either.
- I tell him when I do things wrong and he helps me fix them.
- He makes me feel happy when I look at him.
- Also, I don’t want to ever lose him.
Life hands us the opportunity to meet a lot of amazing people, and you may even be blessed with many friends. But think about it…at the end of the day, who is your penguin?