My children love stuffed animals. They treat them as friends.
Yesterday while walking a job site I found a huge pink gorilla. Huge meaning almost as tall as me and far wider. He had been abandoned after a movie shoot was over and he was laying in the snow out back of the property, frozen and a little dirty. With the help of one of my colleagues, we picked him up by the arms and walked him to the flat bed of the F150 truck.
When I arrived home, I told my children I had a surprise for them. When he walked into the house, the three of them started cheering and yelling. They cleaned him up and anointed him goalie. When we ate dinner he moved to the kitchen, and of course he accompanied them upstairs to bed. Given his homeless status the night before, my children gave him big hugs before they fell asleep. He remains propped up in the corner watching them sleep and no doubt this morning he will come downstairs with them to eat breakfast.
He is obviously male even though he is bright pink. All of my children's stuffed animals have taken on a personality based on their looks and my children's interpretation of that look. A number of their stuffed friends have names. The gorilla will join a large elephant my children won at an arcade along with many many other stuffed friends.
My children treat their stuffed animals like they were alive. They don't want them to be lonely so they group them together and always ensure that no one is left to sleep alone. Generally at least one stuffed animal makes it into the bed. They display a heartwarming empathy when they interact with their stuffed friends. (If only I could get them to consistently display the same tenderness towards each other...)
Given his acumen as goalie, I suspect our new addition is in for an active and enjoyable day. Here's to friends of all shapes and sizes, no matter their stuffing.