Eli has a toy Beanie Baby tiger whose name is Stripes. This little tiger once belonged to me but I gave him to Eli a few years ago. Stripes has been living in Eli's toy box, undisturbed, for most of those years. That is, until about 2 weeks ago.
2 weeks ago, Eli found Stripes and started playing with him pretty much non-stop. The interaction that Eli has with Stripes is very different from his other stuffed animals. He seems to go through phases where different stuffed things are more important to him than others. When we first moved back to Iowa, when Eli was about 19 months old, he had three things that HAD to be with him at all times: Puppy-puppy, Gi-gi and Lamb. (Gi-gi is his baby blanket). When he would get upset, he would immediately ask for those three items, and only then did he feel better. When I visited my family in Pennsylvania in February of 2010, Eli had a new attachment to a stuffed red, jalapeño- shaped cat toy...aptly named Pepper. We visited my cousin Heather in Wisconsin in April of 2010 and Heather's son Nate gave Eli a stuffed dog, who became Roger Retriever, or just Roger for short. Roger took Puppy-puppy's place for a long time, and I think I was more upset about the replacement than anyone else! Eli would make Puppy-puppy sleep on the floor because he said that Puppy would "gas on him" at night; or Puppy wouldn't stop licking him. Eventually Puppy-puppy was allowed to join the others on the bed at night, and I felt better.
Back to Stripes. Stripes is NAUGHTY! Seriously...first of all, Stripes "talks" in this rather annoying high-pitched meow, and it's usually very loud. When it first started, I would tell Eli that he needed to be quieter and his response was "Stripes, be quiet! Daddy is sleeping!". The more I watched, the more I noticed just how sassy this bean-filled tiger really was. He jumps all over the living room, knocking things off book shelves and speakers. I found Stripes running with scissors a few days ago. He runs all over the house and attacks the LIVING cats! He sometimes attacks my face for no apparent reason and continues to pester me until I say "Eli, you need to stop now...you're hurting me now," and Eli replies, to the tiger (of course) "Stripes, stop hurting Mommy! That's NOT nice!". Stripes never wants to eat dinner...he's always too tired. Stripes never wants to take a bath...he's having too much fun playing. Stripes puts up quite the fuss at bedtime, and is disruptive while we're trying to read bedtime stories. I told Adam yesterday that Stripes is everything that Eli WANTS to be, but he knows he can't get away doing those naughty things!
Now, Stripes isn't ALL bad. Stripes is very inquisitive and likes to investigate things in our house, too. He found a small hole in our carpet, and I was informed that Stripes wanted Eli to tell me about it. Stripes gives great hugs and when he's not hyperactive, he gives wonderful kisses, too. Stripes provides a great amount of comfort to Eli when he falls out of bed. Stripes makes Eli feel better when I tell him something he doesn't want to hear (such as "we have to leave Grandma's house, now"). Stripes is truly one of Eli's closest non-human companions right now, and I think they're very cute together. As I type this, Stripes is launching himself (with a little Eli help!) from the top of the cat scratching post into our window. Oh, and attacking a pumpkin. Eli loves his crazy, sassy little tiger...
Stripes is HOBBES!
I wonder what the future holds if this relationship continues? Perhaps I should brush up on my "Calvin and Hobbes" :D