A Boy and his Gorilla

Since birth, Jonah has gone through a number of different comfort items. You could call them lovies, snoodles, binkies, security blankets, or babies. Every child has some strange item that he or she has attached themselves to. At the preschool I taught at, there was a toddler who was attached to the very edge of his old recieving blanket. The blanket had frayed and worn away, until just one little patch of the silk lining was left, and Little D carried that patch around, rubbing it against his cheek. He called it his “mimi.” And if he decided at any moment that he needed his “mimi” you’d better have it, or watch out!!!

For Jonah, his first “lovie” was my boob. No joke. He would sit in his sling, half nursing/half cuddling, 24 hours a day. I got to be quite good at hiding the fact that my nursing shirt was open in order to pacify my infant. With the ring sling, it was actually very easy.

Then, Jonah moved away from needing my breast all the time, to needing Seymour, the Musical Seahorse. Seymour was bought as a gift, from my best friend Elizabeth. Jonah would not nap without Seymour, would not play on the floor without Seymour, and absolutely would NOT ride in the car without Seymour!Seymour’s batteries do not last forever, though. And we all know how some toys will get set aside to get new batteries “when we get around to it.” The main problem is that Seymour doesn’t take normal AA batteries. Oh no, he takes watch batteries. So, Seymour’s music has been silent for quite a few months. Without the glowing belly and soothing music, Jonah quickly lost interest in Seymour.

Then, in the early spring, we went to the zoo with my mom. Jonah absolutely loves the gorillas at the zoo. He has ever since our first visit. He will sit and watch them swing and play for hours. I’m convinced that the large male gorilla at the Toledo Zoo recognizes Jonah when we visit now, because we spend so much time watching the gorillas. Sometimes, the male will come to the window to study Jonah. One time, a teenage girl pushed me while I was holding Jonah, so that she could get a picture of this gorilla, and he was so upset by her that he charged at the glass where she was standing. I’m convinced he was trying to protect Jonah, but that might just be me being sentimental.

At any rate, my mom thought I was crazy when I told her how much Jonah loves the gorillas. He wasn’t even a year old yet, so I can understand this. When we went to the zoo, she saw how much he just loved them. So she insisted on buying him this plush silverback gorilla from the souvenier shop.

At the time, the gorilla was not much smaller than Jonah. We brought the gorilla home, and I expected to simply put him on the shelf in Jonah’s bedroom. Wrong. Wrong wrong wrong. Within a couple of days, the gorilla had gotten quite a bit of playtime in. It became apparant that he needed a name. We picked Hank. Hank the Gorilla. Soon, Hank became the very first toy that Jonah would pull out every day.

Then, while I was shopping one day, I found a stuffed gorilla for $5, and the profits went to a charity that was helping children learn to read. I bought it, noting that it must be a female gorilla. I brought her home and introduced her to Hank. The chemistry was instant. Hank had a mate. We named her Gloria the Gorilla. While Jonah will accept Gloria as a substitute for Hank, he will sleep with her and be happy to have her along on walks and outings, Hank is still his favorite.

Now, Jonah is never anywhere without either Hank or Gloria. If we are playing with other children, and a curious tot comes and looks at Hank, Jonah gets very posessive. I’ve never seen him get posessive of any other toy or object. If anyone dares to pick Hank up, be prepared for some screaming!

What strikes me the most is how much affection Jonah gives to Hank. He hugs him, and gives him endless kisses, buries his face into his fur, and the newest form of affection for Hank is biting. Jonah will bite his nose and his hands while giving him a huge hug. I’m a little worried that this will translate into biting other people or our dog, but so far Jonah seems to know the difference.

Of all of Jonah’s lovies, he is definitely the most attached to Hank. Hank and Gloria are now an integral part of our family, and we have managed to work them into all of our daily routines. I don’t think anyone could imagine our lives without Hank anymore.

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