There were so many things that I loved about I Heart Snapping’s Living Arrows project last year, from discovering and visiting so many wonderful new to me blogs to taking a gazillion or two pictures of my girls flying through the air on their favourite swings. The contributor photos were without exception, stunning but as the year went on I found that much as I enjoyed seeing all the little ones playing and thinking and exploring the world, the photos that stuck with me were the ones that didn’t have any children in them.
Pictures of stuffed animals, of little figures left in the middle of some imagination, all the detritus of childhood left behind when the children have stepped out of the frame for a second.
And that’s given me an idea for my theme for this year’s Living Arrows. Last year I tried to look for the pictures that showed the quintessence of childhood; the moments of my girls at play that are utterly timeless. This year it’s not about them, but about their treasures instead.
I want to record the toys that they love, the games that they play, the little bits and bobs that Elma insists on carrying around with her in the little raffia bag that nursery Father Christmas gave her. Because while right now I can’t imagine forgetting how much Elma loves stiring up conker soup in the play kitchen, or how much it hurts when you step on a conker that’s been pretending to be the carpet, I’m not sure that will always be the case, and these little things are as much a part of their childhoods as the days out, the afternoons in the kitchen or the trips to the park.
So let me introduce you to Sully. Or as Kitty and Elma call him, “James P Cinnamon”, and sometimes “James P Cinnerella”.
He was a present from my brother in law to H back in the era of the first Monsters’ Inc film and if his batteries are plugged in, the switch turned on and the button pushed he’s got a motion sensor and will lift his arms and roar at you if you walk past, the chief idea I suspect being to deter your parents and/or siblings from ever entering your room. He used to live on top of a wardrobe at H’s parents’ house but when Kit spotted him on a visit north she decided she loved him and was going to take him home. So home he came, and was duly installed on the corner of the bookcase in her room. There was just one problem; she was absolutely petrified of his roaring (though she’s got a more comfortable with it these days) and he’s far too solid and mechanical to make a good cuddly bedfellow.
I’m not quite sure who first put a hairband on him; it may well have been Kitty, or it might have been an entirely unintentional move one evening when clothes and hair bobbles and their ilk got piled up on his fluffy blue head. But the habit stuck, he started to become the place where the hairbands lived; and a very good spot it is too, they can’t get squished or broken and they don’t fall off down the back of the bookcase either. And then we discovered quite by accident that his horns make quite a useful spot to hold bobbles … as is his mouth.
Poor James P Cinnamon. From chief scarer to chief hairband holder – it’s a good job they discovered giggles were better than screams.