It’s hard to remember when Jack got his Mickey Mouse stuffed animal. I know John’s cousin gave him his first Mickey, the one that he has slept with and kept by his side since the day he got it. Mickey is more than a stuffed animal to him, Mickey is his buddy.
Mickey has come on every trip we’ve taken and been a source of worry when we’ve been without him. When Jack was little there were 3 Mickey’s: one for home and one for each of his grandparents house so that he would never have to be without his pal. Over the years his collection of Mickey’s has grown but he always knew which one was the “original Mickey”. He’s met Mickey in Disney World and had Mickey sing him Happy Birthday. He draws Mickey’s and wears his Mickey shirt to school almost once a week. He’s quick to “find” Mickey’s in his cereal bowl. As John says, “he’s a big fan of the genre”.
Mickey went to school every day in his backpack for 4 years. That is until last month, while John and I were away, Jack took Mickey to school as usual and a boy in his class told him that “Mickey is for babies”. Since then Mickey has stayed safely at home, except on stuffed animal day when Mickey made an appearance.
I know kids have to grow up and leave things like their favorite stuffed animals at home. I know that with anything that might be deamed babyish there is a risk of a kid getting picked on. And while I think it’s probably for the best that Jack stopped bringing him to school now, rather than when he is older and in a new school. There is a part of me that’s sad that his love of his Mickey was even questioned. That kids can’t just stay little, a little bit longer. That there is always a push to grow up.
And I disagree that Mickey is for babies. I’ve seen grown men in Mickey Mouse tee shirts and woman with Mickey Mouse tattoos. I’ve watched fathers smile when their kid meets Mickey for the first time and I’ve gotten a little teary eyed when Jack saw Mickey ride into the Magic Kingdom the train at rope drop. I’ve been on family vacations that have filled my heart with such happiness and yes, lots more Mickey.
And that’s the thing about Mickey Mouse and Jackson’s Mickey it brings him happiness. And I don’t think you are ever too old for something that makes you happy, even if it’s a stuffed mouse.
So while I think Jack is getting too old to take a stuffed animal everywhere he goes, I hope he doesn’t ever get too old for the joy that Mickey has brought him. For the imagination that Mickey has inspired in him. For the love he has for all things Disney. For his desire to be an artist and create things because that’s what Imaginears do. I hope he keeps that bit of magic that started with a Mouse.