We have a giraffe in our family. I don't think I've introduced him. He's particularly well traveled and an absolutely crucial part of our lives. There have been a few incarnations over the years, a few name changes and I wouldn't live without him. Not for one single day.
This is Cumbly.
If you are familiar with my kid, you may know him better as Bishy. The names are fairly hard to explain, as they always are when children come up with them. In fact, my grandfather was called 'Gump' because my sister couldn't pronounce the word 'Grandpa'. I think 'Bishy' is derived from the word 'Horsey'. But don't quote me on that. My own red giraffe from childhood was called 'Camel'...
So. When I was pregnant I bought some soft toys from a baby store. As you do. The little blue giraffe had a rattle in him and I thought that would appeal, so he was the first toy in the cot when Poppet arrived. I don't think she's spent a night without him since. I say 'him', when in fact there were many giraffes to begin with. When I realized the giraffe was a winner, I swiftly went out and purchased a few more. For washing. As I'm sure you know, these baby toys get more than their fair share of wear and tear, and vomit and dirt...
To my delight and relief, this particular toy could handle the washing machine and the dryer without losing his rattle. Possibly he has lost a little hair over the last seven years, but that hasn't been a major problem.
We moved to Brazil when Poppet was about 18 months old. Boy was I glad to have spare giraffes. They were constantly being dropped on the street, run over by the stroller and covered in god knows what kind of germs. I am not a complete freak about germs, but still...Brazilian germs were a little more intimidating. (Note that Poppet was the only member of our family not to contract a stomach virus of any description whilst living there. I don't want to say it out loud that she's really never had one, because it's Murphy's Law that she'll wake up with one in the morning...but I've said it now. She's got a cast iron stomach, apparently.)
So, we washed him and loved him and he has been an immense source of comfort and relief to our little darling throughout many, many, many hours of transit between Australia and Brazil, and beyond. Possibly the longest 'haul' we did was around 40 hours. They really know how to delay a flight in South America!
Around this time, Poppet started sucking her thumb. She learnt to self-settle by holding onto Bishy's horns or ears and sucking her thumb. No problemo. I don't care if she sucks her thumb when she's twenty if it helps her go to sleep! These days she can settle fairly well without the thumb, but NOT without the giraffe. But last night was different. Last night, she dreamed of children having their heads and hands and feet cut off. Anyone want to explain a six year old having dreams like that?! Yowsers! The giraffe and the thumb meant a fairly quick return to slumber. For all of us.
Bishy has become pretty well known to our friends and family. One of the 'spare' giraffes now resides in Brazil with our nanny's son. I believe he still sleeps with it. Another one is living in Hong Kong with some cousins. They get around...
And when did 'Bishy' become 'Cumbly'?
Upon our return to Oz, Poppet figured it all out. She was onto us. She'd found the Bishy stash.
And she didn't seem to mind. She just had more blue love in her arms! But there was one giraffe she didn't seem to like so much. He was, apparently, a bit 'Cumbly'. This was a derogatory term at the time. But something changed. By the time Poppet was in kindergarten, this 'Cumbly' had wormed his way into her favour. He became top giraffe. And he retains that title to this day.
I think we have still got four blue giraffes rolling around upstairs even now. But only one of them can give her the calm and resolve to carry on throughout the relocations she's endured. Cumbly. I salute you. You are certainly looking pretty 'cumbly' these days but you are the first belonging I would save from a fire.
Thanks little blue guy....