One of my favourite childhood memories took place when I was about five: we had gone to family for a braai and I had fallen asleep in the car on the way home. I remember waking up as we arrived at our house, but I pretended to still be asleep so that my dad could carry me into the house and straight to bed. My trick worked. As my dad gently tucked me in, my mom leaning over to give me a kiss goodnight, I however realised that my ‘Teddy’ was still sitting on its chair - my place of honour for him when I was not home. So, I pretended to talk in my sleep, mumbling ‘Teddy’ under my breath. I clearly remember my mom giggling softly, obviously realising that I was actually awake, as she fetched my little companion and softly placed him into my arms. Surrounded by love, I drifted back to sleep.
Having my own child, I often think back on this moment, wanting not only to be there for him the way my parents were there for me but wanting to give Bean a little companion and comforter for the times that we are not. My ‘Teddy’ went almost everywhere with me: he was my friend when I was playing and my pillow when I slept. By the time I was old enough to no longer need him, he was old and flat and full of gob but I loved him regardless.
A Companion for Bean
Since Bean was born, I have been looking for a ‘Teddy’ for him and although it might seem silly and sentimental, I wanted this new ‘Teddy’ to look like mine! So, you can imagine my glee when I walked into a toy store the other day and found him: the Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn® Smart Stages™ Puppy! This toy and future companion to Bean, was the perfect size, cute, fluffy, and best of all, it looked similar to my ‘teddy’.
Upon closer inspection, I got even more excited by this toy: it has a variety of developmentally suitable songs (50+), is interactive, educational and has Smart Stages™ technology, meaning that it has varying levels of play, suited to different ages. The toy, in other words, can interact with Bean on his level as he grows, introducing concepts like body parts, letters, colours and counting.
Level 1, the ‘Explore’ stage, is suitable for kids aged between 6 and 12 months and it teaches the baby basic words, concepts and colours. Level 2 is called the ‘Encourage’ stage, suitable for kids aged 12 to 18 months. In this level, the Puppy gives basic directions to the toddler, prompting the child to do certain actions and activities with questions. I have set our Puppy to this level at the moment and it is amazing to see how Bean listens and interacts, learning to recognise his own body parts as he plays. Next, we will play in Level 3, the ‘Pretend’ stage, suitable for kids aged 18 months and older, which focuses on early role play and imaginative fun.
This toy is amazingly intuitive and so easy to use. Through its interactive nature and a large variety of songs, it is a little ‘real life’ companion for my sweet child. I often find Bean dancing next to his ‘Pup’, as we have fondly named him, listening to the music. It goes everywhere with us and even keeps Bean entertained in the car. I already have visions of ‘Pup’ ending up like ‘Teddy’: dirty with mottled hair, but loved in the arms of my son.
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