Recently, I wrote an article about bulletin board ideas with a "Curious George" theme. You remember -- the little brown monkey with a big dose of curiosity?
His curious nature often got him into trouble, and as a result, he'd run and hide beneath his master's big yellow hat. Just thinking about little monkeys brought back a flood of memories for this Mom.
You see, we had two little Curious George's at our house over 20 years ago. Not the stuffed kind, pictured here, but the flesh-and-blood kind. How the stuffed monkeys entered the picture is another story.
It all began when their we gave their sister a stuffed teddy bear and she named it "Precious." When the boys kept grabbing it and hiding it from her, I interpreted that to mean one of two things: either they thought her stuffed bear was silly, or they were a teeny bit jealous of her new acquisition.
So I took a chance on the latter and decided to get the boys stuffed animals, too. I couldn't get them bears, however, because they were making fun of their sister's teddy-bear pal.. So I was in the market for something a bit unusual. You guessed it -- when I saw the two monkeys pictured here, I couldn't resist.
Jason named his "Art" for Art Monk, the pro-athlete who became the league's all-time leading receiver in a Monday Night footbal game against Denver on October 12, 1992, with his 820th reception. Pretty perceptive of my son, naming a stuffed monkey after Art "Monk." In time, Art became "Artie."
Kevin, at 5 years old, wanted a suitable name for his monkey, too. When we suggested "Rusty or Rustin" for the color of his fur, Kevin agreed. Hence, Artie and Rustin moved into our home (and hearts) and made themselves comfortable.
They sometimes spoke for the boys, as in, "Artie wants to know when lunch is going to be ready, Mom." Or, "Mom, how long does Rustin have to rest after lunch?" And, oh, how they entertained us! Their long arms were perfect for giving high-fives or hanging from bed posts, and they often put on a fun puppet (er, stuffed) show.
We traveled a lot back then, because their Daddy was speaking every weekend for churches that were without pastors. On 1st and 3rd Saturdays, we'd travel two hours to Birmingham, AL and spend the night in the church parsonage. Melissa took "Precious" along, and the boys stuffed "Artie and Rustin" in their duffel bags to haul out when they got bored.
Oh, the mischief those monkeys got into! (I'm guessing they gave Curious George some pretty stiff competition). As we traveled, Rustin would sometimes beg to stop for French fries, and Artie loved to crack corny jokes that kept us in stitches. They also did acrobatics in the van -- leaping, bouncing, twisting and gyrating to music. Sometimes, quite by accident, they would hit the back of the driver's head, and Artie and Rustin had to take a time out.
One Sunday afternoon in the parsonage, while the boys were supposed to be resting, we heard a loud crash followed by a quiet "Uh-oh." I found our sons standing in the middle of an empty guest bedroom with pieces of white glass lying all around them.
"We were playing a game," was their explanation. Out behind their backs came Artie and Rustin. "They wanted us to throw them up to the ceiling fan so they could ride while it was turning."
Someone tossed too hard, the ceiling fan light cover got knocked off, and you know the rest. They helped clean it up, even though it was all Artie and Rustin's fault for wanting to ride the fan blades. Their Daddy saw it as a good opportunity to teach the boys some responsibility, and he told the church treasurer the boys would replace the light fixture with their allowance money. Monkeys (stuffed or human) must learn some hard lessons now and then.
Thankfully, Artie and Rustin were a lot more fun than they were trouble. They became quite subdued as they grew older with our boys. Now and then, they'd pull them out for a good wrestling match. (It's much more acceptable to pound a fellow monkey's head than your brother's.)
I'm glad I found Artie and Rustin in the cedar chest after writing that Curious George article. They probably needed some fresh air after all these years. One of these days, I'll have Artie dry-cleaned and wrapped nicely so I can pass him down to Jason's son, who is to be born in late September.
I have a feeling our grown son will introduce his own son to the antics of Artie -- and tell him all about Rustin, too. Though I'm not sure what kind of entertainment and mischief Artie will provide for the next generation, I'm guessing my grandson will love him!