Blake went to South Dakota a couple of summers ago and came home with Bert the Buffalo. Little did Blake know what a part of our lives this small, stuffed buffalo would become (if he had, I worry Bert might not have made it).
Here's the thing - all of my stuffed animals were animated when I was little, thanks to my dad and brother. I had a Snork who wore a sock on his snorky thing all winter to stay warm (my dad's idea). I had a bear who was sometimes served his very own plate at the dinner table. All of my stuffed animals would pop their little heads in the bathroom door to cheer me up when I was in the tub and my mom was pouring water in my eyes. So it quickly just became a way of life. My stuffed animals talked to me, they went on trips with us, they were a part of the family. My bear went off to college with me and met Sarah's bear and the world was a happy place.
So, naturally, I expected that little, stuffed Bert would demonstrate the same behavior as my childhood stuffed animals. Imagine my surprise when I realized that Blake intended for Bert to just sit on a shelf and look cute. It took him quite a while to warm up to the idea of having Bert as an active part of our lives but finally, he could resist no longer - and I do believe that our relationship is better because of it.
This is why:
-Blake demonstrates his ability to be a nurturing caretaker by giving Bert kisses, sharing bites of his food with Bert, and massaging Bert's feet when the poor little guy has had a rough day. (And as much as he'd argue that he does all of this just to appease me, he's the one who panics when Bert is lost under the bed for a mere second.)
-Bert is fun. Really. We have a constant prompt to be silly and ridiculous - to play and make each other laugh. That's the big reason.
Is our integration of Bert into our relationship strange? Yes. Are there stranger things in the world? Definitely yes. On the scale of strangeness I think we're doing alright. Maybe every relationship could even benefit from a little stuffed buffalo, who knows. Or maybe it's just us.