Sally has had quite the interesting, and at times, long life. Often she is three years old and a “kid”. Other times she is six, ten, twelve, or thirty-one and “a Mama”. Rarely she does a bit of gender bending and is even “a Dada”. Thomas isn’t entirely clear on how she came to live with us. Sometimes he tells a story of finding her in the road, hurt, while on his way to “housey work”. He tells us how she was hurt very badly, but that the doctors gave her some medicine to make her “comfortable” and that she was then able to come home with us. Much like how our dog, Kermit came to live with us…hmmm. Sally is, sadly, an orphan. You see, her mother got stuck in tar. Despite her tragic youth, Sally is quite fun to be around. She loves to play with Legos and build block towers. She is also quite clever and a whiz a puzzles. Unlike most giraffes she has a diverse pallete and frequently requests nachos and ice cream in addition to munching on pretend trees. Thomas, considerate of Sally’s needs, always requests an extra cookie for her and is always dismayed when he is informed he will have to share. Sometimes Sally has bad behavior. Thomas tries to stop her but she just loves to throw things and the other day she even took a swipe at Henry. Much to Thomas’ chagrin, he suffered the consequences of Sally’s actions (being separated from Sally in solitary time-outs). He claimed the assault was all Sally’s idea but I gave him the “if your friend does something inappropriate and you are with (and encourage) him you are responsible too” speech. I thought I would have years before I had to pull that discussion out, but between him and Sally we’ve gotten a jump on the teenage years here. Despite her occasional miscreant behavior, Sally can also be a great help to Thomas too. When Thomas can’t admit to being tired or hungry, Sally will chime in that she needs a nap or a snack. At night Sally gets tucked in under a fuzzy brown blanket with Thomas and he drifts off to sleep thinking “happy thoughts about giraffes”.
For a long time Thomas has been quite fond of turtles and giraffes. About a year ago he found the giraffe at the bottom of his pile of stuffed animals and she’s been a daily character in our house ever since. Sally began her life as “Gina the Giraffe”. I earned Sally for selling a certain number of boxes of Girl Scout cookies the year I was nine years old. Nine wasn’t the easiest year for me; we had moved in the middle of the school year and I had a hard time making friends. I had my animals and dolls though and while it might seem silly as an adult, they really helped ease the loneliness. That year, I took out a notebook and wrote down names for each one of my dozens of pretend friends along with their birthdays which I vowed to celebrate. The celebrations only lasted about a week but every time I look at that giraffe I think of countless happy hours playing with my animals and dolls. In 1988 I trudged through the snow on Superbowl Sunday to sell all those boxes of cookies. I could have never imagined that twenty-one years from then those cookies would have resulted in a wonderful, soothing, magical friend for my son. I wonder if someday, thirty or so years from now, one of Thomas’ children will find Sally in a box and take a liking to her – christening her with a new name and giving new life to an old friend.