Time to let the furry friends go

This is a beautifully written piece that describes something that happens or is feared of happening in most families.

When Nick Coleman’s daughter decided to get rid of her cuddly toys, he was outraged – how could she?

Nick Coleman holding the despised Piggy, surrounded by his daughter’s other toys. Photograph: Graham Turner for the Guardian

My daughter is nearly 12. This month she graduated to secondary school and resolved to put childish things behind her. To that end, she lined up her entire menagerie of soft toys on the sofa, five deep, to make a considered, contemplative decision about which of them was going to get the chop.

There were bears, geese, rabbits, dogs, hedgehogs, pigs, elephants, a penguin, two tigers and a single doll, a scraggy female item named, for some reason, Bob. Many of these were hand-me-downs from the extended family; a few were her own from the off. The toys had all featured in her life at one time or another. Large ones, small ones. Sucked ones, chewed ones. Loved ones, unloved ones. Nameless ones.

Not included in that last category were Pengy, Ellie, Joe, Schmo, Candle, Sweepy, Big Hilda, The Bear in the Big Blue House, Oie, Dal, Tina’s Pussy, Stinky, Piggy …

These creatures all had names. They were the alpha toys. Taken individually, they were never an “it”, a mere cipher of cuddlesome teddyishness; these guys were always a he or a she – an individual not a fuzzball. You could even make out in some of them – especially the foul-smelling but charismatic Stinky – the faintest outline of a personality. Well, a presence.

And now they were huddling together on the sofa, face forward, as upright as can be managed on the tilting upholstery, like the proud, uncowering victims of a firing squad.

I walked into the living room to see all this just as my daughter, who sat facing them, removed a cupping hand from her chin. She looked solemn.

“What’s going on?” I said.

“I’m just deciding which ones to ‘let go’,” she replied, supplying the quote marks with her fingers, and went back to her thinking. I felt a wave of revulsion come up from my feet. For a moment I felt almost physically sick. “You can’t do that!” I said, and then thought, why the hell not? They’re hers.

“Why not?” she said. “They’re mine. And besides, I’ve looked after them all these years. I can do what I want with them.”

I had no answer to that. But it didn’t stop me from feeling uneasy. Worse than uneasy. If I tell you that the tickle of nausea persisted for some hours afterwards, you may struggle to believe me – you’ll have to take it on trust. But it really did. It hung in me like smoke.

I, of course, told myself at the time that it was because there was something foul about the scene unfolding in my living room; something toxifying in this soft-world parody of the worst, most irredeemable yet persistent aspect of human nature: the unending horror of judgment and mass execution. Ugh. My beautiful daughter. She knows not what she does. And so on.

I also told myself that it was because I was upset at the spectacle of my daughter cutting herself away so ruthlessly from her infancy. My beloved baby daughter: the Ginger Ninja, the Beezer, the Woodle. Surely those bears mean more to her than that, I thought. Surely this moment of pained self-consciousness will pass …

But I knew that I was not facing up to the whole truth.

I have always maintained a tepid masculine indifference towards soft toys. I can see their value: their actual physical relevance to children as well as their importance to them as symbols of comfort in a comfortless world. I can even understand the value of them as socialising tools, for engendering compassion in the self-centred, blood-red minds of tiny humans etc etc. Yeah, they’re useful, cuddly toys, but let’s maintain perspective.

Spare me the weirdos who can’t outgrow their attachment to them; and spare me the fetishising lunacy that compels adults to find a way to communicate with their children through the agency of soft mouths. “But Teddy wants to go to bed now/eat his peas/do a poo” and so on. Ugh.

Quite unnecessary.

After all, I had managed fine throughout my own infancy without an entourage of bears. I believe I had only two, one of which wasn’t a bear. I inherited Ted-Fred from my mother, a one-eyed and wholly uncuddly pre-war sack of mange (the bear, not my mum), and I had briefly loved Albert, a brown knitted dog, although I have very little memory of him. He was gone by the time I was three, presumably sucked into nothingness. And that was it for me. No more cuddles. (Ted-Fred still exists, I’m glad to say – somewhere, but not here.)

But do not imagine that you can detect a note of self-pity in this. There is none. I do not yearn for lost soft toys nor sense a shortfall in my cuddle history. There is no one-armed, patched and restuffed Rosebud burning in the fires of memory.

I do, however, have two sisters, one of whom had a gang of bears. A real gang. She was partial to koalas and had several. They spoke with what she fondly presumed was an Australian accent and each had finely delineated and wholly consistent personalities. There was the irascible, domineering Adelaide and her useless, whining, weak-minded cousin, Sydney, who was Adelaide’s private doormat and was about as un-Australian as a male koala can get. The definitive blithering idiot. There were others too, but Sydney and Adelaide commanded the discursive high ground and took shit from no one. They were frequently the dominant personalities in the family, by which I mean the human family. I know this because I used to have conversations with them.

My sister is in fact – and always has been – a kind, modest, thoughtful creature, albeit one of iron will. She is now a very fine schoolteacher of high principle and great accomplishment. But as a small child she was a walking anthropology experiment.

Sydney, Addy, Tambo, Alice Springs et al were joined c1970 (when my sis would have been about eight) by Piggy, a vile orange and pink teddybear with a hideous squished face, no visible character, charm or presence, and highly dubious health and safety credentials. He smelled revolting. This unsavoury object was a prize won at the village fete and, from the moment of its arrival, was despised. We all despised “him”.

“Urgh, Piggy!” we used to say to each other, pointing at his horrible face. “Get him away from me!”

And other phrases stick in my mind too, like thorns.

“Can someone get this monstrosity out of my kitchen?”

“Does anyone, anywhere want Piggy?”

“Nooooooooooooooo!!!”

The whole object of Piggy was for him to be despised, reviled, rejected. He was the runt. The scapegoat (I have vague memories of the weakminded Sydney blaming Piggy for everything). He was in fact The Piggy, the Goldingesque primal nightmare through which the tribal mind finds a way to visit its cruelty, well, tribally. I shudder to think that my otherwise kindly, unsnobbish, fundamentally decent family might harbour such emotions about pink and orange nylon. But there it is. We did. We loathed Piggy.

But we couldn’t get rid of him.

However, my sister did finally manage to unload Piggy on to my daughter some years ago, when she was a baby. My daughter hated him on sight but pretended not to. And so Piggy has since spent the last decade or so stuffed underneath her bed or behind her wardrobe or in a bag too small for his sausagey limbs – until this very moment, some 42 years after his first entry into our family fold, where he sits none too proudly and slightly grimy on the front edge of the sofa, surrounded and buttressed by the other toys, centre-right of the phalanx of the imminently dead. Dead-eyed.

I address my daughter, firmly. I do not want her to think that she has to be swayed by my gruesome middle-aged sentimentalism. At the same time, I want her to stay resolutely in touch with her humanity, even as her finger twitches and curls around her metaphorical trigger.

“So,” I say, hiding my anxiety. “Have you come to any firm conclusions?”

“Well,” she says, decisively, “obviously Piggy has to go …”

Childhood is NOT a Disease

The following points are addressed in full in the text below:

1) There are no tests in existence that can prove mental disorders are medical conditions. Psychiatric diagnosis is based solely on opinion.

2) Yes, people get depressed, sad, anxious and  can even act psychotic.  That doesn’t make them mentally “diseased.”

3) The campaign to “STOP THE STIGMA OF MENTAL ILLNESS” is brought to you by…Big Pharma.

4) Why Psychiatric labels are the problem.

5) Psychiatric drugs are big business and the psychiatric pharmaceutical industry is making a killing—$84 Billion per year. 

6)  Psychiatric drug side effects—CCHR has compiled all international drug regulatory warnings & studies about psychiatric drug risks into an easy to search psychiatric drug database

7) Why safe effective medical treatments to mental difficulties are kept buried.

Read the full text here

Psychiatrists/MDs who Debunk Psychiatric Diagnosis

“There are no objective tests in psychiatry-no X-ray, laboratory, or exam finding that says definitively that someone does or does not have a mental disorder.” “there is no definition of a mental disorder.”  “It’s bull—. I mean, you just can’t define it.” — Allen Frances, Psychiatrist and former DSM-IV Task Force Chairman

“In reality, psychiatric diagnosing is a kind of spiritual profiling that can destroy lives and frequently does.” — Peter Breggin, Psychiatrist

“…modern psychiatry has yet to convincingly prove the genetic/biologic cause of any single mental illness…Patients [have] been diagnosed with ‘chemical imbalances’ despite the fact that no test exists to support such a claim, and…there is no real conception of what a correct chemical balance would look like.” — Dr. David Kaiser, Psychiatrist

“There’s no biological imbalance. When people come to me and they say, ‘I have a biochemical imbalance,’ I say, ‘Show me your lab tests.’ There are no lab tests. So what’s the biochemical imbalance?” — Dr. Ron Leifer, Psychiatrist

“Virtually anyone at any given time can meet the criteria for bipolar disorder or ADHD.  Anyone.  And the problem is everyone diagnosed with even one of these ‘illnesses’ triggers the pill dispenser.” — Dr. Stefan Kruszewski, Psychiatrist

“No behavior or misbehavior is a disease or can be a disease.  That’s not what diseases are. Diseases are malfunctions of the human body, of the heart, the liver, the kidney, the brain. Typhoid fever is a disease. Spring fever is not a disease; it is a figure of speech, a metaphoric disease. All mental diseases are metaphoric diseases, misrepresented as real diseases and mistaken for real diseases.” — Thomas Szasz, Professor of Psychiatry Emeritus

Read more: CCHR

Our kids are being destroyed so that Big Pharma can make more money!

A Whole New Level of Compassion

Kris Doubledee with his bus (CBS)

(CBS News) A bus driver in Winnipeg, Canada, brought his passengers to tears when he stopped his bus to give a barefoot homeless man the shoes off his feet.

Winnipeg transit bus driver Kristian Doubledee was doing his job Tuesday, just like he has done every day for the past four years. But, for the 38-year-old who was born in Boston and raised in New Brunswick, Canada, this day was going to turn out differently.

Denise Campbell, a passenger on Doubledee’s bus, recalled, “Suddenly, the bus driver yelled, ‘Hey buddy’ – and he got off the bus and went out to a man.”

That’s when Doubledee took off his shoes and handed them to the homeless man who had been walking barefoot.

Campbell said, “One of the ladies sitting in front of me got up and asked him or said to him, ‘That was the most amazing thing I have ever seen.'”

Comment:

When was the last time you did something like this?

Wouldn’t it be a better world if we all did it even once?