LC's Take: Dinkum

Posted Wednesday, June 5, 2013 in Features

LC's Take: Dinkum

by LC Van Savage

I don’t like to give baby presents. Now please don’t get me wrong. I like babies. They’re fine. I even had a few that I liked a lot. Still do even though they haven’t been babies for many a decade.  It’s not that.

It’s just that when those tiny humans are born, or even before they’re born, everyone showers gifts on the little weenies, and while those gifts are needed and often greatly appreciated, I just refuse to give a baby a baby gift.  They get too much baby stuff when they’re still in Stage One Prune, and I for one don’t like to be responsible for starting them down that pathway of turning them into materialistic little greedheads.

No, it’s not for me to bedazzle them with more receiving blankets when they’ve already received, 31, or 46 pairs of onesies and enough booties to dry shod a large colony of octopi. Nope. The gift I give has to be different from all that infant stuff. But what?

Definitely and absolutely not stuffed animals.  Why does everyone give newborns stuffed animals? The babies have no idea what on earth they are, they don’t do anything like give milk or change a diaper, and they don’t even move, they gather dust, can be kind of dangerous when stuffed into a crib,  so what’s the point? I think giving stuffed animals to a new baby is a cop-out because let’s be truthful here, the giver couldn’t think of anything else to give. Or, perhaps the giver fell in love with the little cuddly stuffed creature in the store and just couldn’t resist buying it, so in fact that cute toy is really for the giver and not the newbie givee, right? I wonder if those givers ever secretly resent having to give up that sweet little stuffed thing to a phlegmatic newborn that has absolutely no idea what that fuzzy thing is anyway. 

I think stuffed animals should be given to older kids, toddlers, when they can imbue them with life, name them, take them everywhere, talk to them in bed at night, love and protect them and feel protected by them.  Or hit their siblings with them. Or heave them out the car window.

And, someone should tell childless uncles that dragging life sized stuffed grizzly bears into the house for their niece’s first birthday is never, not ever a fabulous birthday gift idea.  It frequently scares the whatevers out of the birthday girl, the mother has to fake love it, wondering where she’ll put the @#$%& thing, the family dog immediately performs an unpleasant act on it in the middle of the festivities and later  tears it to shreds scattering the stuffing throughout every room in the house including the garage. 

I have a younger brother named Stuart. He too was given a lot of stuffed animals when he was born, but none of them took. However, when he was about three, he adopted two from the pile. One was a leopard he named “Leppy.”  Leppy was really a tiger but we never told Stuie, and he had button eyes which eventually fell off and my little brother was ever so grateful when I sewed new eyes onto Leppy’s battered face with black darning thread, just two woven lumpy protuberances, but at least they never fell off.

Today my little brother is a very palmy stockbroker, but would he return the favor by giving me just the occasional wee tip on what’s hot and what’s not in The Market? Oh, noooo! Course not. I should’ve just let Leppy go blind or told Stu that the animal had stripes and not spots, so he was a tiger, ha ha on my brother, the joke’s on him.

Stuie’s other beloved stuffed pet was of all things, a platypus. His name was “Dinkum” which in Australia I think means honest or genuine or something. Dinkum was really adorable, and my little brother took him everywhere. Dinkum was a good replica of a platypus, an animal that’s continued to fascinate me since long before Dinkum got reluctantly discarded the day my brother left for Yale.  I really don’t know what all the fuss is about the origins of the platypus. Just because it’s a furry, web-footed, flat tailed egg-laying mammal with a bill, is no big mystery.  It should be pretty obvious to anyone that a few zillion centuries ago, a lonely duck and a lonely beaver met on a lonely river and, well, you know how it is. A few too many belts of eau de riviere, a lovely sunset, and one thing led to another.

Any beaver in a storm, as they say, and all ducks look pretty good after dark.  The offspring of that one night stand turned out to be a platypus, although I can’t think how “platypus” is at all a blending of “beaver” and “duck” but there’s no accounting for how the minds of biologists work.  Later I guess more beavers came along and met up with more ducks and well, the platypus population just exploded and that’s how platypi got invented. Simple, right?

So from now on, I’m going to be giving all newborns something they can enjoy when they’re older, like a state of the art potty-chair or a good bicycle pump.  OK, maybe also a stuffed toy, if I can find another Dinkum. Anyone out there know where there’s a platypus store?

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