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Tender Care

My earliest memory is of a thin plastic disc with a black circle moving within it--the eye of my stuffed rabbit "Perky"--her red gingham body, the white bars of my crib as I sat pulling on the plastic disc to see what made the black circle move.  I ended up pulling the eye off, and since it wasn't a button, for some reason my mom couldn't re-attach it.  It was the 60's, so maybe superglue hadn't been invented yet---or what, did the rogue eye disappear somewhere?  The horror!  I remember hysterically crying in the bathtub as my mom patiently explained over and over again that Perky had one eye now, she wasn't so good looking.  It continued downhill from there, because I dragged her by the ears everywhere, over to the neighbors, on the path through the hedge, inconsiderately letting her scrape in the dirt behind me like a tail.  I didn't understand that there were consequences to lack of tender care, and that the attachment I felt for the stuffed animal wasn't enough.  She became worn and gray, lumpy with washing machine visits shifting her stuffing.  She lost her gingham skirt too--it went to the same place as the eye? and still she accompanied me, and still I didn't make the connection, I took her for granted as I did my own body.  A life lesson that would repeat over and over again, learned and forgotten, forgotten again...       

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