Do you remember Wanda? Wanda was the marionette that one of Lucia’s teachers had found at a yard-sale for 50 cents. I took Wanda home, sewed a black and white polka-dotted dress for her, and gave her some sparkly accessories. Lucia loved Wanda, and as much as I wanted to keep the marionette, I told Lucia that we would be able to visit the Wanda at school.
That Wednesday, Wanda was a hit during music time. The following Monday, Lucia saw Wanda hanging up with her fraternal twin brother, Marco (a red-and-white striped, brown-haired prototype of the Folkmanis Kid Gloves marionette, now discontinued) and though she cried when she had to say goodbye at the end of the day, Lucia was comforted to know that she’d see Wanda next time.
The next day, Wanda took a walk and never returned. There were no witnesses.
To say that I felt bad is an understatement. I had repeatedly reassured Lucia that, even though Wanda wasn't going to stay at our house, Lucia would be able to visit Wanda at school. I expected a meltdown, but Lucia was a good sport about the whole thing. I told Lucia that Wanda had gone traveling, and we didn't know where she was, but we were looking for her and hoped she would come back.
Although she didn’t cry, Lucia often asked about the marionette, and every time she saw a black-and-white polka dotted item, she said, “That’s for Wanda!” Eventually, when I realized that Wanda was indeed stolen, and not just misplaced at the bottom of someone’s craft box, I started to think about finding a replacement prototype. The trouble was that Folkmanis was not making the marionette anymore, and it didn’t seem to have been popular in the first place. I had no luck.
Then, I read this blog entry by Doug of Wordswordswords:
It Keeps Happening. The "discontinued" Dodo Bird wasn't meant to be anything more than a joke, but it got me brooding about Wanda again. I thought of Trixie’s father in the book Knuffle Bunny, and how he got mad when the beloved stuffed animal was nowhere to be found in the laundromat. Trixie's daddy rolled up his sleeves, decided to "look harder," and stuck his head inside the washing machine.
So, I looked harder. I didn't have as strenuous a time as Trixie's daddy, but I did finally find the marionette in question at Purciful's Magical Toys.
I won’t tell you how much I paid (including shipping), but suffice to say, it was more than the 50 cents Lucia’s teacher had spent at the yard-sale. The “new” Wanda arrived yesterday morning, and I dropped everything I was working on* to sew a dress for her. I believe that Lucia understood that this marionette was not the same as the one we brought back to her school, as she said, “That’s a Wanda dolly!” She also knows that her Bert, Ernie, and Raggedy Ann dolls are different from the ones she sees in other places, but loves them all anyway.
I do not use the word “love” lightly. There is something about the affection Lucia feels for her stuffed animals and dolls that goes beyond the physical possession of toys. What is it? Despite this rambly post, I am at a loss for words on how to explain. Perhaps if you have ever bristled at the statement, “It’s only a toy,” you understand. If you don't understand, then please simply trust me. It’s just one of those things.
*In the interest of full disclosure, I already had taken the sewing machine out of the closet.
Update: Nonny has posted photos of her beloved Raggedy Ann dollies mentioned in the comments section below.