Talking to stuffed animals and other lessons of COVID-19

Teddy bears are a source of comfort and can be a sounding board for something we are trying to express.

  • By Debra-Lynn B. Hook Tribune News Service
  • Wednesday, August 12, 2020 1:30am
  • Life

The stuffed lamb my sister gave me for my birthday sat for years in a basket under my window.

Recently, it made it to my bed.

And then, to my arms.

The other night I found myself talking to it.

“Uh-oh,” I said to my thank-God therapist who does Telehealth with me every week. “Is this normal?” I stammered.

“This is absolutely normal,” she said. “Stuffed animals are a source of comfort and they can be a sounding board for something we are trying to express.”

Where much comfort is needed, much is allowed. As long as I don’t become delusional and think the animal really is alive, I’m apparently good to go, which is a rational approach that can be applied to other comforts especially now.

Consider food.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Kellogg’s has seen skyrocketing demand for Froot Loops, Frosted Flakes and Pringles.

Fortunately, I got off food that turns milk blue a long time ago.

My comfort food of choice — organic dark chocolate — is healthy, that is, until I start eating it by the 3.2-ounce bar. We learned the hard way, me and Lambie, who got a jacked-up earful one night, that excessive amounts of cocoa powder have been linked to nightmares and night terrors.

I also learned that non-stop cherries are not a good substitute for non-stop chocolate. Think upside-down volcano. Think for next time: One serving instead of eight. Seven cherries, not 70.

Speaking of mindfulness and food moments, I have learned not to operate my Instapot while distracted by COVID stats, presidential politics or the fact that the Amazon guy just coughed on my front porch. Instapot is Instagratification. It is also a real problem when I pour rice and water on top of the heating element without the pot.

Five months into this pandemic, and I am learning to stay alert not only to who’s wearing masks, but to making sure my next Netflix series is in the queue before I watch the last “Poldark.” This saves me from wandering around the house wondering where my next cute-guy fix is coming from.

I have learned to order seasonal jigsaw puzzles in advance and to buy bird seed by the case since birds — and squirrels and chipmunks and apparently bats and raccoons — seem to be super hungry or super plentiful, or maybe that’s just because I’m watching.

I also know now that I can’t just go out and buy a cute puppy, as there is a run on cute puppies, also medical marijuana and sex toys — these latter two I only know from Google, not personal experience, natch.

I have learned as much as anything how important it is for us to go easy on ourselves.

According to a Kaiser Foundation report, 45% of adults say the pandemic has affected their mental health, and 19% say it has had a “major impact.” Find a Lambie to sit with you when there’s nobody else around. They have great, floppy ears to wipe your tears.

Also: Just as it’s OK to cry, so is it OK to laugh, even when it doesn’t seem like there’s a lot to laugh about.

My sister, who lives 1,200 miles away, and I both have extenuating health issues. We are both worried beyond worry. We talk about these things when we Facetime, which is sometimes twice a day.

But then one of us will say something really stupid. She’ll put on a crazy hat or I will show her the inside of my nose. And the laughter starts.

It’s the kind of guffawing that brings great release, the kind you pay for at laughter yoga clubs that starts way deep in the belly, reminding us of the super-human resilience of the super-human soul.

I glance over to check on Lambie.

I’m relieved to find she’s laughing, too.

Debra-Lynn B. Hook has been writing about family life since 1988. Visit her website at www.debralynnhook.com; email her at dlbhook@yahoo.com, or join her column’s Facebook discussion group at Debra-Lynn Hook: Bringing Up Mommy.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Life

Jon Pardi performs during the 2023 CMA Fest on Saturday, June 10, 2023, at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tenn. (Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP)
Music, theater and more: What’s happening in Snohomish County

Country star Jon Pardi’s “Mr. Saturday Night World Tour” stops in Everett for a show Feb. 16.

A group of friends hang out in a banya, a Russian sauna that is typically more humid and hotter than a traditional sauna, at Banya by fgm on Monday, Oct. 16, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
At Banya, spa with 200-degree sauna in Everett, stress just melts away

A banya in Russian refers to a hot room or sauna. You can also plunge in the cold pool. Or play chess and eat piroshki.

Red foliage of the weeping Laceleaf Japanese Maple tree (Acer palmatum) background texture. High quality photo.
A well-pruned laceleaf Japanese maple can liven up your yard year-round

If you have one of these stunning specimens, now’s the time to cut back dead branches. If not, add one to your landscape.

Country music star Jon Pardi is scheduled to perform Feb. 16 in Everett. (Associated Press / Invision)
Music, theater and more: What’s happening in Snohomish County

“Mr. Saturday Night” country star Jon Pardi performs Feb. 16, which is a Friday, in Everett.

The future of fashion: Moving toward a sustainable wardrobe

Over 22 billion pounds of textiles are thrown away each year in the U.S. How do we tackle such a massive problem? Start small.

What we might call a bar cart began as Victorian England’s tea trolley

Whatever you call it and however you use it, this birch wood cart with white enameled wheels attracted $2,650 at auction.

Bring summer’s bounty home by growing blueberries in your own backyard

Here’s a look at great several varieties to consider, along with tips on how to ensure your little home orchard thrives.

The 2024 Volkswagen Atlas includes new wheel designs for all trim levels. (Volkswagen)
Volkswagen Atlas more handsome than ever for 2024

The mid-size SUV also has a new engine and an increase in the number of standard features.

Ryan Carlson’s goose Bubba honks at cars outside his home on Monday Feb. 5, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
What’s honkin’ on this Everett thoroughfare? Have a gander

Henrietta and Betty, a goose duet, entertain passersby in the yard between Colby Avenue and Evergreen Way.

2023 Mercedes-Benz EQE 500 (Provided by Mercedes-Benz)
2023 Mercedes-Benz EQE 500

The electric SUV certainly stands out from the crowd.

The Snohomish County PUD’s outage map can be found online at outagemap.snopud.com. (screenshot)
New and improved outage map keeps you in the know when you’re in the dark

The interactive online tool lets you report an outage, see outages around you and receive updates on restoration efforts.

These pickles mark your spot and serve as memorable advertising for Heinz

Whimsical, attention-grabbing bookmarks like these are both fun and practical. This set of nine sold for $130 at auction.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.