"Mom, do you love my animals as much as you love me?" The first time he asked me that question, a few months ago, I told him the truth. I said that I liked them very much, but that I didn't love anything or anyone as much as I love him.
This was the wrong answer.
There were many tears, and it hurt his animals feelings and he really didn't understand why I couldn't just love them the way I love him.
He asks me every night at bedtime, or anytime he has one of his dearly beloved creatures nearby. Today he asked while we were snuggled on the sofabed downstairs, curled up under the covers with a fire going in the fireplace, watching "IceAge: The Meltdown" on the portable DVD player. Panda and Linky were under the covers with us, and he asked "Mom, do you love my animals as much as you love me?" And I said "Yes. I do. I'm so glad they're members of our family."
Here's what I didn't say: I love them because they are yours. Because you give them your heart, and your heart is precious to me. I love them because they know your six year old secrets, and do their cuddly best to allay your worst fears. I love them because when they talk, they talk just like you. I love them because you've named them, each and every last one, and I remember ALL their names. I love them because they smell like you. I know this because when I pick them up off the living room couch, where you bring them to eat your cheerios in the morning, I give them a good long, deep sniff before putting them on your bed. They are your talismans, your charms and your snugglebuddies. They are as real to me as they are to you.