Bloody Beanie Kids
My eight year old daughter Sapphire has been avidly collecting beanie kids which are smallish-sized stuffed bears that are growing like mushroom clumps in 'selected' newsagents and specialty toy stores everywhere.
At $9.95 per bear and each in a specific-themed costume now in their hundreds, they are an affordable bribe thanks to outworkers in China forced to fuss over tiny tu-tus, whips and spangly eyelashes.
I'm ashamed to say that, like back-fat and age spots, they're growing on me. Their little black-beaded eyes, tiny noses and cute little teddy cheeks have won me over. The Beanie bosses must be laughing in their non-leased Lamborghinis, having created a sure-fire retail winner. These designers of the Devil release and then 'retire' beanies to increase their collectability; refuse to let big chain stores sell them and have an adorable website and collector's book that lists their birthdates, interests and competitions.
It's all Sapphire's fault. She discovered that she owned a couple of BKs by accident one day - ancient birthday gifts from her daycare years: "I had no idea they were the real thing - thank God I'm now eight instead of four," she said, ruefully. She pointed them out to me whenever we were together: "Look Mum! There's Chardy the Socialite Bear, she's got the same birthday as you, and Giddyup over there has my birthday but she's retired now and is really rare.... didn't you say that Sue from the shop would save the forgotten monthly beanie kid badges for me..... oh hey, they've got the white mutation koala bears which are now retired and Celeste is still the one in the silver packets and....."
One dollar bought Sapphire the autumn/winter BK catalogue which she has read with more focus than Paris Hilton with a tube of tanning cream, and I too have been forced to flick through the slender tome with her more than once. We may be in the midst of a rather hectic home renovation right now, but I can still tell you which Beanies have featured as the monthly badge holders since 2001 compared to trying to comprehend how in the hell our new underground water tank electro-switcheroo-thingy-gadget-box works.
It's not just the bloody book that has taken up too much of my rare brain real estate. Somehow, most of Sapphire's excited chatter about themes, names, beanie birth dates, email messages from the 'Beanie Master' (more influential than Barbie for the tweenie set right now) and other collectors'-only hysteria has managed to hook on to at least half of my still-firing synapses because I am now considered rather knowledgeable on the subject. No, I'm not proud of this fact - I can quickly spot the new releases versus the retired and yet can't remember a damn thing about the Labor Party's unveiled WorkChoices rein-in.
Each time I pop into the newsagent to survey the womens' magazines and imperiously reject them (after all, marieclaire and instyle get delivered to me at home), I venture towards the home decorating ones and my eyes eventually land on the Beanie Kids boxes nearby. Unless I've lost control in the chocolate aisle (note to chocoholics: in any given week, at least one well-known brand of family-sized chocolate blocks are on sale. Hot tip: buy in bulk), there is usually at least a ten or twenty buck note lurking in my wallet; enough for one or two BKs to hide somewhere in Sapph's room for an after-school surprise.
My repressed Obsessive Compulsive Disorder emerges as my eyes automatically scan each box for new releases, checks out 'Beanie Kid of the Month' and any that have since been 'retired' and may now be worth a whopping $12 instead of $9.95. I now know everyone at the Firle Newsagent by name, and they in turn refer to me as MillyMoo, the Beanie Kid Kollector, despite me correcting them many times that I'm doing it on behalf of my daughter. They smile condescendingly and I make a mental note to bring in Sapphire one day to assure them that she's not a figment of my feverish RainMan imagination. My second mental note is to pull my pants down from under my armpits and to stop muttering 'Beanie Zara, got it; Beanie Celeste, got it; Beanie Shannon, got it; Beanie Heinrik, got it..." whilst rocking myself back and forth over the footy card display.
I'm the worst type of parent. You know the type: being a 'good mum' by buying up big instead of wanting to listen to my child play 'Speed Bonny boat' on the recorder for the hundredth time, painfully pluck out the Simpsons' theme tune on her guitar or risk showing her how to make scones from scratch. Dammit, I've even got 'The Beanie Master' on order!
Maybe it's all to do with my childhood. I'm still saddened by the fact that the 1968-version of Pauline Hanson hiding deep within me chose a golliwog over a furry golden teddy bear when my parents presented it to me in my bassinet.
Mum and Dad tended to see my initial actions and choices as being carved in stone for the rest of my days and so no other teddy bears were ever offered to me after that. (This 'You always said you hated...' approach still continues to this day. In year three - 1976 for godssakes - my teacher wrote, 'MillyMoo can tend to get a little careless with her written work' and I *still* get told, "Remember MillyMoo, Miss Ruys told you to be more neat and accurate......" What I'd *like* to retort in return is 'Remember Dad, you spent all of the 1970s wearing brown v-necks and long socks, so you'd better stick with that look,' and 'Mum, how come we're not eating mornay out of ramekins any more?')
Am I - as I did when I bought Sapph the trampoline - guilty of buying her the toys I wanted as a child but didn't get? I don't know...... still, as soon as I can find those retro buckets of 'slime', extenda-roller-skates, a Six-Million Dollar Man thermos and hobby-tex t-shirt design kit I'll let you know.
Montages below have been set up and photograped by eight year old Sapphire. Underneath this blurb we have her Australian marsupials panorama. Please note the possum did not suffer any injuries having his tail slammed into the drawer and Priscilla the gender-challenged Frill-necked lizard is not dead, just posing.
Further below we have a rainbow theme up against the bookshelf, with all three gay rights' activists reclining in comfort on Sapph's cane chair cushion. Cherub (the red one) has fallen asleep - that's what all-night techno and eccies will do for you.