My 4-year-old son has been obsessed with lions for over two years now. It started out as just generic lions with a free book in the Chick-Fil-A kid’s meal that was read approximately 6 million times over the course of several months. Then my husband and I said, “Let’s introduce him to the Lion King.” Oh boy. That caused the lion obsession to grow exponentially, to the point that everyone in our family has a Lion King character name and is always referred to by that name. It gets a little weird when we’re out in public and he calls me Sarabi.
A family that I baby sat for when I was in high school got wind that my son was obsessed with the Lion King and gifted us all of their Lion King stuffed animals that they have since outgrown. We have the whole Lion King cast, plush edition, in our house now. However, one stuffed animal in particular has captured my son’s heart.
Meet Lion (formerly, Simba; formerly, Mufasa). He used to be so clean, so majestic. And now, he barely resembles the regal creature he once was. Now, I would never say that owning a stuffed animal is actually like owning a real pet, but he’s also a lot more work than your typical stuffed animal.
Here’s how Lion is more than just a stuffed animal in our house:
1. Lion goes EVERYWHERE with us
I’m pretty sure that half of Northern Colorado has seen us out and about with Lion. He’s hard to miss at two feet tall. Lion loves samples at Costco, hikes in the mountains, and has even managed to attend a wedding. We get a lot of comments when we’re out like, “Wow! That sure is a loved lion,” or “He’s like the Velveteen Rabbit.” Lion is definitely the most loved stuffed animal in town. And when Lion is accidently forgotten at home…the reaction from my son is similar to Kevin McCallister’s mom realizing she left her 8-year-old at home in Home Alone.
2. Lion requires his own plate of food
Lion has his own dedicated chair at our kitchen table. My son requests an extra plate of meat (pepperonis) for Lion and somehow, Lion always manages to clear his plate. Due to his disgusting state (see below), Lion is no longer allowed to be on the kitchen table and must stay in his designated kitchen chair.
3. Lion requires frequent baths
Yes, that water is black. And that’s even after Lion’s second washing that day. Trust me, I’m as horrified as you are. It’s really hard to get him away from my son long enough to wash him and because he’s so big, he takes FOREVER to dry.
4. Lion has his own “people”
Because Lion requires frequent baths and a solid hour in the dryer, he also requires maintenance. I’m constantly finding his stuffing poking out of his seams. I’m embarrassed to admit, I can’t sew, which means I have a friend who has become Lion’s designated seamstress when she comes over. (Note to self, add “learn to sew” to my list, “Things to accomplish when I’m an empty-nester.”)
5. Lion became a student
My son’s transition to preschool last year was hard, really hard. He just didn’t want to be left at school and there were lots of tears almost every day for seven months. However, we were fortunate enough to have two wonderful teachers who were constantly in touch with us about ways to make my son feel more comfortable at school. They suggested letting Lion become an honorary member of the class to give my son some comfort at school. So, every morning, Lion went off to school too. Lion had his own special spot on the circle-time rug, enjoyed a good finger-painting session, and even participated in Pajama Day. Thankfully, Lion now spends his mornings at home taking cat naps while my son goes to school.
6. They have started to look like each other
We have all heard the joke that after many years together, married couples start to look alike. The same sentiment applies to my son and Lion.
7. Lion appeared in our family Christmas card
By the time Christmas rolled around last year, it was only appropriate that Lion was included in our family Christmas card. We signed his name at the bottom of the card along with all of ours. We also received many Christmas cards in return that were addressed to our family, plus Lion. It was fun for my son to see people had included Lion’s name on the envelopes.
Even though it’s sometimes a pain to drag a two-foot lion around with us everywhere (guess who gets stuck holding Lion when something more interesting is happening?), it’s also been so fun to see my son’s imagination grow with Lion as his sidekick.
Do you have a lovey in your house that feels like family?