Wednesday, March 3, 2010

I can't believe he packed up his blankie

I have always been observant of small children. Noticing how they act, what they wear, their smile, their eyes, the likeness they are to their parents, their activity level, and their security items. I have seen kids with special dolls, pillows, blankets, diaper cloths, their mother's slips, beanie babies, and on and on. I never really quite understood why some kids wagged around some ratty old item with them wherever they went. That is, until I had children of my own. I am the mother of three perfectly well adjusted, secure boys who all three have had an attachment to a "security item." Tucker, being my oldest, was attached first to a small pillow. It was placed in his crib as an infant, mostly just because it was cute. It was covered in yellow John Deere fabric and was floppy and soft. He always slept with it in his crib and it didn't take long for the attachment to it to begin. I remember the first time as a young infant that I noticed he was using it as a "security blanket". I picked him up from his crib and he lurched toward his bed. I thought he was falling or playing a game, but he was reaching for his pillow. From that point on, everywhere Tucker went, his pillow was sure to be with him. In his cute "toddler talk" he named his pillow "Paa-buh". As preschool days approached, we had to make a rule that the pillow had to start staying at home. I convinced Tucker that if his pillow went to school with him, that he may lose it or his friends might love it and want to keep it. He was not a fan of the idea of sharing his pillow, so he agreed to leave it at home. After that, the pillow became his bed buddy. It stayed in his bed until time to go to sleep. As Tucker got older, the pillow kind of just became another pillow in his bed, until one day, he didn't need his pillow at all. Tucker put the pillow safely in our hope chest, where we keep special things, and told me that he didn't really want it anymore. He was in the third grade. I still remember the sinking feeling in my chest.

Sawyer was born just before Tucker's 4th birthday. I never thought about Sawyer becoming attached to special item like Tucker was. It wasn't long, though before Sawyer too became attached. As a very small baby, Sawyer liked to play with the strings and tags on his blankets, wrapping his fingers around the fringe of carpets and lacing his fingers through frayed towels. He started showing a huge preference to this huge blanket that we kept on our couch that had fringed edges. He wanted to drag it around the house and take it with him when we left the house. Seeing his attachment to the fringed blanket grow, I realized quickly that the gigantic blanket would become burdensome because of it's size. I enlisted Nana to create a baby blanket sized one for Sawyer that would be more portable. Nana was happy to make this creation for Sawyer, so off we went to the fabric store. Knowing that Sawyer specifically loved to play with the fringe on the big blanket, but not knowing exactly which fringe he liked the best, we carried him to let him pick out his own.

   Sawyer was still less than a year old, so we were just looking for something that might spark a reaction or that he may seem excited about. The fabric store had a full section with rows of fringe. Oh, we got a reaction alright! He was in fringe loving heaven! We couldn't decide which fringe he liked the most. The end result was a soft green baby blanket, cut in half, edged in a variety of different styles of fringe. This blanket immediately became Sawyer's favorite treasure.
His blanket was in his hands everywhere he went. The blanket went on vacation with us to Disney World, Texas, Kentucky, and Ohio. It has been tucked into suitcases. It has been stuffed next to Sawyer in strollers. The blanket has gone to restaurants and movies. It has been left in the back of the Cozy Coupe Car, fallen behind the bed frame, tucked into a toybox, and left in a wagon only to finally be discovered after hours of searching. It has been patched up, resewn, and washed countless times. A normal bath for the blanket occurred when Sawyer was occupied with another activity and it could be snuck into the washing machine without him noticing. Many, many times Sawyer could be found in front of the dryer door waiting for the dryer to buzz alerting him that his blanket was all clean and ready. Some evenings, the blanket would get forgotten in the washing machine and put into the dryer too late. Bedtime would come and the blanket would still be wet. The tears would flow until the blanket was lovingly tucked into Sawyer's arms again. I recall on more than one occasion racing Bradley to the dryer when we heard the buzzing sound because we both wanted the satisfaction of giving Sawyer back his clean blanket and seing the happy smile on his face. He would pour out love and hugs to whomever gave him back his favorite blanket.
During a prenatal Dr's visit when I was pregnant with Carter, Sawyer was tagging along carrying his beloved blanket. The blanket accidentally got left at the doctor's office. The office was called trying to retrieve it. Also contacted was the cleaning staff, the head office, patient information and any other person we might could speak with. The blanket was never recovered. Two very sad days followed until Nana created an exact replica of the blanket. You have never witnessed such a joyful toddler! For weeks after that, the blanket could not be pryed from his hands. I even carried him to a monogram shop to have his name put on it, in case he ever lost it again, it would be easier to reclaim it. The owner of the shop insisted that it would take her overnight to add his name, until she too witnessed the attachment. She promptly turned his nameless blanket to a blanket proudly displaying the name "Sawyer" on it. She couldn't bear to make him wait.

During Sawyer's baby and toddler years, his blanket became an extention of him. It was just a part of him. Preschool days were lurking during the summer Sawyer was 3. I knew that I would have to explain to Sawyer that his blanket couldn't go with him to preschool. I envisioned this conversation being infinitely more difficult for Sawyer than it was for Tucker. At first, the rule was a little more lax than with Tucker. The blanket just couldn't go to preschool. It was still allowed to travel in the car, go to Nana's, and be played anywhere else he liked. The transition wasn't too bad. He too was convinced by the idea that he might have to share it if he carried to to preschool.
As time passed by, the blanket began to be left in the bed more often than not. It was always there when he got ready to go to sleep, but by the time he started big school, he no longer played with it or needed it outside of night time. He spent the night with his friends a couple of times, and he still packed up his little blanket into his suitcase so that he could get it out at bedtime, until this last time. I wish I had known when I tucked him in the bed that night that it would be the last night he spent snuggled up with his blanket. I would have soaked it all in. I would have watched him sleep and watched his fingers wrap around the fringe for the last time. I would have grasped onto the last moment of his babyhood. Instead, the night passed like any other. I gave him a goodnight kiss and tucked in his covers with his little blanket by his side. The next morning the two of us worked together to pack his suitcase to go to his friends house. He excitedly chose his pajamas and clothes and tucked them into their place in the suitcase. I grabbed his blanket and pitched it in on top of his other things, as I have done other times before. He nonchalantly picked his blanket up and said, as if it were no bid deal, "I don't need this anymore. I'm gonna put it in that special box." And off he went, leaving me standing with my heart in my throat and tears in my eyes, stading in a wake of emotions. It has been a week since the blanket was tucked into the box. I half hoped he would go get it back out later. I still can't believe he packed up his blankie. I guess at this point, I need his security blanket more than he did.
The chest is now closed with the pillow and blanket inside. One day Carter too will tuck his blanket inside and not only will the chest be closed, but another phase in their life will too be closed.