Much has been written, told, whispered, and muttered about the lives of children’s toys. It may all be true. But what many people fail to realize is the bond between a baby and its toys. For an older child, one for whom the magic has begun to leech slowly but perceptibly out of the world, a toy has a life all its own, separate from parents and classmates and all the mundane cares of a larger world.

But for an infant, just beginning to explore their world, the grinning and beloved stuffed animal or the brightly-colored blocks are just as real as the large figures with the comforting voices, and just as alive. It’s a seamless continuum. Older children take the role of director, of stage manager, of God. For the younger ones, it’s more like a partnership–a different kind of bond altogether. They have no truck and trade with the older things, being thrown out or passed on as their wards age. Some would call this a cruel fate, but to anyone who has ever beheld a discarded baby toy, it’s not so. They have an energy, a life-force, about them. And they are only cast aside once it has flickered out.

Ah, but what of those bound to a sick child, whose life threatens to gutter our before their own sparks have left it? Their playthings are left with a choice: to sit and wait, or to venture out into the world of secret dreams and hidden fears that only the youngest of children can see, even as the very old still feel it tickle up against their lives every so often.

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Every child’s plaything knows that the interior of the playroom is as the interior of a child’s fondest dreams: warm, safe, and bursting with possibilities. It is a dreamworld, lush and fantastic and predictable in its unpredictability.

But outside…

Children see the world outside as dangerous, even frightening. The world outside their playroom is the world of a child’s nightmares, of shadows and monsters and things learned parents insist aren’t real but every child with a heartbeat believes in.

So by venturing outside the playroom without a child was to venture into the unknown, the dark, the dangerous.

Most that made the journey never returned.