This week’s Ask Prudie was just delivered to my email box. I always like skimming the questions and answers, and the last one was particularly nice today:
I’m a 14-year-old who is about to go into high school. My question is concerning a stuffed animal I’ve had ever since I was 4. I sleep with this little dog every night, and when I go anywhere else, I am sure to bring him. He’s very familiar and comforting, and while I’m sure I could sleep just fine without him, it’s very nice to be able to cuddle something soft and nonjudging, especially after a trying day. So, my question is: Am I too old to still be sleeping with a stuffed animal? Will it hurt me later on if I don’t get rid of him?
—Don’t Want To Let the Dog Go
I have every confidence that your long relationship with your stuffed dog is actually helping prepare you for the time when you share your bed with a live partner—one who I hope will listen sympathetically at the end of the day as your bodies are entwined. I have such a bedmate—my cat, Biscuit. My husband is cuddly, too, but I agree that there’s something about a small, fluffy creature that just takes the edge off. There’s no reason not to continue to let your sleeping dog lie next to you; after all, he’s absorbed a decade of kisses and tears. But because you’re wondering about it, the next time you go for an overnight, why not take him along, but leave him in your bag—just to see how it feels. And even though you will learn to get through the night without him, that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t accompany you to college or be lovingly cared for until, maybe someday, he will be ready for duty for your own children.
To this, I would add:
I’m 22, far past the high school age and I still sleep with my childhood bear. Not because I need him to protect me from the monsters that are living under the bed, like when I was a kid, but because I like to hold something soft when I go to sleep. Some nights I barely touch him, some nights I roll on top of him, but he’s always there. I don’t bring him with me on overnight stays, and I can sleep just fine without him, I just like him being there. (Incidentally, now that I’m at my mom’s for a couple days, I sleep with a stuffed chicken. It was all she had at such short notice). Don’t worry about other people’s opinions – if they are stupid enough to judge you for a stuffed animal, you don’t want them as friends anyway. And a live partner might not replace your animal – it didn’t for me. After all is said and done, I prefer my bear to a guy in my bed. My bear doesn’t take up much room, doesn’t squash me or take the blankets. I might give him up to my kids, but it’s likely he’ll sleep in my bed in my retirement home. Everyone needs something constant in their life, right?