"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day... "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"
"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."
"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.
"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."
"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"
"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. (By the way, maybe one or two little tears had now escaped and rolled down my face.) "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."
So there I was, reading this in a trembling voice, and the back of my brain was thinking these words should be read at weddings and funerals and printed on Congratulations on Your New Baby cards, etc.., when Ethan stopped me, sagely nodding his head, to say, "The Skin Horse is so wise, not as wise as Yoda, but still very wise." Holy crap, I love that kid and the way his brain works so very differently from mine!