Wrote this for an iVillage submission request for stories of your kid's favorite stuffed animal. Hope you enjoy!
Sebashka is one of the dearest members of our family, even if I'm not entirely sure how to spell his name. My older son is 13 years old now, and Sebashka has been in his life for almost nine ... as long as we have. Sebashka was the first present I brought my son, at a point when he wasn't yet mine legally. (My son legally, I mean. Sebashka was legally mine. Ask American Express.) Sebashka was one of the two bright white & tan stuffed dogs I schlepped from New Jersey, 1/2 across the world to Novorossiysk, Russia, to the orphanages in which a certain precious 4 yr old and his equally precious 2 yr old brother were living. I was told to bring a toy or treat to play with when meeting the boys who were our adoption "referrals." I was cautioned that the toys would not be theirs alone but rather property of the orphanages in which they resided, for all the kids.
My younger son, Son2, was a little overwhelmed at first meeting. He enjoyed the dog I brought him, while I simply fell in love. We then drove on to meet his brother, my Son1, with dog2 in tow. He loved it. Loved loved loved loved it. He starting screeching like I thought only 13yr old girls could, "SEBASHKA!!!" I was told by the translator he has yelling "DOG! DOG!" When we left I hoped the boys remembered me when they saw the dogs. I hoped they were able to play with them after that day, but never expected to see the plush pups again. My heart was sealed in love for these two boys, and we counted the days until they would be "ours."
Fast forward two months, to the date we went back to pick up our sons after our court hearing. We picked up the younger Son2, and then went on to pick up Son1. Imagine our surprise when down the hall came a little boy escorted by two adults, grinning ear to ear, with this gray, drab, squashed bit of fuzz under his arm. It wasn't some random dingy, matted stuffed toy. It was so loved, it was literally having the stuffing squished out. It was the Velveteen Sebashka. And it was coming to Jersey! My son somehow managed to do the impossible. He had hung on to that dog for two months. He played with it and slept with it and did Lord knows what to keep it near him. He had taken possession of something in a place in which the kids had no possessions. Now, he was bringing it home. They were each getting a home, for the first time, together.
As the years and countless other stuffed animals have come and gone, Sebashka has stood the test of time. At some point, to protect this special memento, Sebashka was moved from the bed to the dresser. A few months ago, we split our sons' bedrooms and my oldest now has his teen lair. But, no matter how much lacrosse gear lays strewn all over the floor, now matter how many texts are sent from the cell smuggled up at bedtime, Sebashka sits and watches from its favored perch on the top shelf. On occasion, I've walked in and found it sitting on the bed and I know it's still loved by my son. To this ratty-looking little dog, I say thank you for all the comfort you've given to him. Thank you, собака, for becoming so much more than a stuffed dog.