Saturday, 20 September 2014

Can you replace a childhood toy/memory?

Quite a few years back, pre music degree and everything else I collected Tressy dolls.  It started when I came across someone selling them when I bought a book for my son from her on Ebay.  She had a website about these dolls.   I had a brunette second edition Tressy when I was a child that I used to play with a lot.  I remember playing with her with a friend called Beverley when we lived in Glenfield, Auckland, New Zealand and was so surprised that someone else had one as they were not common in NZ.  We had taken mine over with us when we emigrated there in 1973.  Sadly on one of our many moves she went missing.  Whether she was lost in a box of other things that went missing - I seem to recall a dressing gown going missing during that move, or whether my mother gave her away (she did that with several of my dolls without asking me) I don't really know.  All I know is I went on a quest to replace that childhood doll and ended up with rather a collection.  I sold most of that collection just over a year ago and keep three, plus three Toots.  I discovered in this quest that you can't really replace these childhood dolls/toys.  There is something missing from them...perhaps some essence or the like.  It is difficult to explain.  But they are just not 'the same'.  One of the ones I kept back is very much like my brunette childhood Tressy and I put the dress I still had on her, but it still hasn't made her 'mine' even though I must have had her for over 15 years now, which in fact is probably longer than I actually had my childhood doll for as I think I got her when I was between the ages of 4 and 6 and she got lost when I was about 16.  So it isn't how long you have a doll for either it seems.  So these remaining six dolls are soon to move on to new homes.

This is not my photo, but an image from Google.  

(My Jacko was dressed the same way and I miss him so much!)

I am often tempted to replace 'Jacko' my monkey who sadly got eaten by rats when Mum moved him and some of my other bears and dolls from the protection of inside a wardrobe in the house, to a box in an old dilapidated shed in the grove.  Why she did this I still do not understand to this day as it was just asking for trouble...Yes, rats ate him :- (  I was devastated and if the truth be told I still feel very upset about this.  Several very precious to me bears and dolls were destroyed.  I should be able to 'let this go' but I do find it difficult to do so.  Why is it even as a 'mature' adult I find this upsetting?  I remember when I discovered what had happened.  I had planned to bring these remaining childhood toys back to England with me when we were in New Zealand visiting my family.  I went to get them and they were no longer stored where I had left their place were my brother in law's father's exercise bike and things...  items that COULD have been stored in a shed without fear of damage from rats!  Where were my dolls I asked?  In the shed in the grove.  I went out to get them and was horrified what I found.  My special pyjama case teddy that my Dad had brought home with him one day after work had been eaten.  Jacko had really been damaged beyond repair....I tried washing him in their washing machine - apparently my poor Dad was still finding bits of foam in the drum for months afterwards!  My doll had her thumb chewed off...and various other things.  But these are the three I remember the most as they were the three most precious to me.  Three toys that had travelled to New Zealand with me as a six year old.  I remember I had had to part with several bears and dolls before we left England for New Zealand and can only think that this is why these three were just so much more special as they were the ones I could keep.  I still feel this loss.  

Anyway, despite my temptations to replace Jacko, I remind myself of previous attempts to 'replace childhood dolls/toys' and realise that even if I did, it wouldn't be MY Jacko.   

So not sure why I am writing this really. Just trying to work through various things that seem to be jumbling around in my mind at the moment, and perhaps it is part of working through the process of cutting back on various possessions I have and working out why I have some of these items. Sometimes we just need to let go.  I am not very good at it.


  1. I find this a very interesting post, Lorraine.

    Firstly, your Jacko was THE soft toy I yearned for, but never received as a child. I used to see them hanging from rails in Woolworth and would comment on how much I liked them - I came from a family where an outright request for one would almost certainly lead to never getting one.

    I have often wondered if buying one as an adut would ease the slight resentment I still harbour for never having one despite making it clear I so wished for one just before Christmas for several years in a row. Why don't I try it? Would the disappointment if it didn't fill the hole of not having one decades ago be worse than the hole itself?

    Secondly, I had a teddy bear shaped money box for years. He was a gift from a dear friend when I was 9 and my mother broke it a few years ago. Again the feeling of slight anger - along the lines of why does she always break my stuff - surfaced. I now have one in my 'basket' on Ebay. It is always relisted and I add it over and over to my basket, so why don't I ever buy it? Is it because some things can't be replaced just by buying an identical one?

    So often, I hear parents tell a distraught child, 'We'll buy you another one,' and I feel so sorry for the child to have such blind parents. Another one is not the same as the first one, every child knows that, so why do so many parents fail to remember that from their own childhood? Even more to the point, why do I keep thinking I can overcome that fact just by buying something outwardly the same as a childhood treasure myself when I know it to be impossible to replace something with a same but different one?

    Jenni xx

    1. It has taken me a while to respond to these comments for one reason or another, but thank you for taking the time to respond so nicely.

      Perhaps you should try getting your own Jacko - I wonder if it will help?

      I have just today received a Jacko in the post. I decided that I had spent years thinking about him since the demise of mine that I would give it a go. I will blog about my initial thoughts of his arrival.

      You ask the same questions as me!

  2. It is always hard letting go - it takes time and patience and even when you think you've come to terms with a loss it can emerge again unexpectedly, as I know only too well. Maybe this is why we have the collecting urge, but it never really cures the original loss of a treasured item. The strategy of removing treasured toys when the child isn't looking is a mistaken ploy by parents who think the child has outgrown something when in fact the letting go needs to happen in the child's time, not when it suits others (its the old thing of 'you're too old for it dear' - well who are you to judge my emotional needs). We know so much more about psychology now to know that this can cause real emotional damage, though it doesn't stop people doing it even now.

    Lorraine, your Jacko is a toy I've seen used with collecting tins in front of fair and street organs (see my latest post when one of the carved animated monkeys isn't available.

    And I still think of my stolen carved wooden box which I designed and made myself in my teens and wish I could locate it (maybe I'll post the 2 photos I have of it on my blog one day and enlist the help of the world on the internet to track it down!). I have a search set up on ebay for 'carved wooden box' which I look through occasionally but of course it never appears (it is completely unique and I would know it anywhere even 21 years since its theft, filled with my jewellery).

    1. It is indeed isn't it Anna and perhaps I think about things too much sometimes, but that is just how I am.. I hope that I am much more sensitive when it comes to my boys and there toys...although I really don't think they seem to have the same attachments I had. Perhaps one more than the other. To be honest I am probably more attached to their 'special' toys than they are! Still they will be kept unless they make the decision themselves to do otherwise with them.

      Very sad the theft of your wooden box. I do hope it surfaces one day. These things do happen and a friends doll who was stolen was found - in South Africa would you believe?! and returned to her, so a happy ending and I don't think anyone would have imagined that happening.

  3. Thank you so Much for sharing this post with us. My mom did the same thing repeatedly, and I had been saving certain special toys for my own children, she knew this…

    I did replace one of the ones I never thought I would ever find, a small rubber skinned Majorette in a white with red trim silk outfit, filled with string and bits of cloth. While she is different, it still gives me a sense of empowerment every time I see her. it meant alot to me that I actually did find her.

    I am not so good at the letting go part either, but I am deeply grateful to those who have passed along their treasures that they might heal another heart - this thought means very much to me, and i hope it helps you too.

    Thank you so much for sharing such a moving post

    1. Thank you for taking the time to comment. It is sometimes difficult writing about these things as I don't want to upset anyone, but they are musings that I often think about and wonder how things have shaped me into the person I am, or if I was already that person. I think being quite sensitive these things have more than of an impact than others often realise.

      Sorry to read you have had similar experiences, but how wonderful you managed to replace a doll. It is great that it has worked for you as well and makes you feel so much better.

      Thank you :-)


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