With Ned and with my boys I’m truly home, but it’s taken a very long time for me to understand why this particular group of beings is my home. What makes “home,” that place where you can rest, and just be?
Nat just got home, and before long I could hear the hum of the tv, and so I went in and asked him what he had chosen. “Cawry,” he said, referring to our very very old Weston Woods video of Corduroy.
Corduroy was the very first book Nat liked, the very first character that engaged him, way back at 18 months. He would sit in Ned’s lap, in my lap, listen rapt, thumb in mouth, and when the story was over, he’d close the book, take it out of my hand and then put it back into my hand, saying, “um, um, um.” I knew he was asking me to read it again. Over and over we’d read it.
The story goes like this: Corduroy is a bear in green corduroy overalls. Unbeknown to him, one of his shoulder straps is missing a button. A little girl, Lisa, wants to buy him but her tired mom needs to get home, and so she points out this imperfection, hoping to discourage Lisa. Corduroy watches them go, sadly, and notices for the first time in his life that he has a flaw. Mystified, but not given to too much reflection, Corduroy sets off into the department store once it is closed, in search of his button.
Of course, Corduroy is not going to find his button anywhere in the store, and we know that from the start. Even if he were to find a button (and indeed he tries to pull one off of a mattress in the bedding department), how would he attach it to himself? He has stuffed bear paws! Yet look he must, because that is our nature: to be complete.
I do wonder what it is that drew Little Baby Nat to this story, and what makes him still love it today, at 21. Because there is quite a bit of projection, imagination, and intuition in my relationship with Nat, I found myself thinking about this today. I allow myself this kind of exercise, not just with Nat, but with all my guys, because imagining their inner world helps me connect to them. Maybe there’s some fiction to it, but who’s to say?
In the end, Lisa comes back to buy him, missing button and all. The last picture shows her sitting with him on her lap and sewing on a new button. “I like you the way you are,” Lisa says, “But you’ll be more comfortable with a button.”
I could say a lot about how perhaps Nat empathizes with Corduroy, who knows he is not like everyone else, and so must try extra hard to fix that, in order to get what he wants. I could say that Nat enjoys Corduroy’s journey of discovery, his lovable mishaps. His finally being understood. But I think that what Nat may love best about watching Corduroy is the feeling that he is home.