I believe we all need a little Zeke in our lives. You see, my son, has a stuffed monkey affectionately known as Zeke, who has made the rounds of life with him for the past few years. He sits patiently in a backpack as he is lugged to and from Grandma’s house, or is used as a missile to decimate the mounds of Lego blocks on the floor. His fur is matted and worn but he still holds a place of honor on my son’s bed.
Last night, as I tucked my son into bed, we had a conversation about night lights and how he needed his bedroom light on, all night long, to combat the storm troopers who were sure to invade his dreams. His big brown eyes looked up at me, wide with fear, and with the utmost seriousness, he told me Heavenly Father never answered his prayers to keep them away. I think we may have to limit the Wii Lego Star Wars games he is playing before bed.
After some cuddling and kisses, I handed him Zeke. He automatically turned into the warm fur, which has its own special scent of being well loved and handled. A couple hours later, I headed to bed, and found him, still clutching his monkey with the same amount of fierceness as when I kissed him goodnight. His prayers had been answered, although without the words his childlike understanding expected. He had his protector and friend there next to him, all through the dark hours, to give him comfort when he needed it most.
A couple of days ago, I caught Nigel playing on the computer, a kitchen chair pulled up next to the office chair he was sitting in. Zeke had his own place on the kitchen chair, faced towards the monitor, for a front row view of the games PBS Kids had to offer. Things like this happen on a regular basis with the monkey. In ways, I wonder if Zeke has taught my child things like caring for another. There are days I’m sure he would trade his sister in for a family that only included him and Zeke, but I’m sure deep down he appreciates and cares for her as much as the inanimate monkey who haunts us all.
I kick myself for not buying a back-up monkey all those years ago when we made our way to Build A Bear Workshop and Zeke came to life. The monkeys on the shelves there aren’t the same these days, aren’t as cute, nor do they have the same emotional pull. I’ve been trolling e-bay to find another, just in case, or perhaps because Zeke will need a friend at some point.
Zeke has spent a time or two at Grandma’s house for some impromptu surgery has a seam has split and needed repair. His bath in my washing machine with the towels leaves him smelling fresh, but still well loved and matted. I worry for the day when Zeke isn’t repairable, and will be relegated to the shelves to be looked at, or in my cedar chest to save for a day when Nigel will reminisce about his childhood. I also worry for the day when he outgrows the need for Zeke. It won’t be long. He is already embarrassed to have me kiss him in front of his friends, although he will usually give me an extra long hug. Will that mean he has outgrown the need for me as well?
Last night, watching the comfort Zeke gave to Nigel, I had to realize that Zeke was an answer to more than Nigel’s prayers; he was an answer to mine. When I couldn’t take away the fear, there was something tangible for him to hold onto. I wish on those really hard days, all it would take is a hug from a monkey to make me feel better. For now, I will take comfort in the fact that for a short time, he will mean the world to a little boy. And I’ll still scour e-bay, just in case.