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Security detail

September 11, 2010

Many children are soothed to sleep every night by a security blanket, or a soft stuffed animal – it’s the romance of comfort, and they’ve found “the one.” When they go missing, couch cushions and whole chairs will be upturned in the search; when they’re lost, Priority Mail comes to the rescue.

Not so for my boy, who has found not “the one” but the many. (Oh Jana, predictor of baby personalities, what say you? Commitment issues or adaptability?) He’s always been partial to his belly button, but his bedtime show features a rotating cast of various toys and household objects, a different one every night.

Such as? I hope you are wondering. The recent lineup:
a yellow toy bulldozer,
a Magna Doodle,
a plastic power drill,
a measuring tape,
a toy stagecoach,
the horses that pull said stagecoach (but apparently sleep separately),
a xylophone,
a rubber duck,
a rubber snake,
a stethoscope
and any among an assortment of hammers, baseball caps and Eric Carle and Dr. Suess books.

My favorite, and the least expected (I like surprises): A mini-Igloo ice chest. A sign, I suppose, that he grew pretty fond of weekend lunch breaks with the crew in our home-construction zone.

A plastic cooler is not really what I had in mind when Jack was a tinier person and I looked forward to his attachment to cute, cuddly toys – ones he could personify and take care of. We had plenty to choose from: plush dogs, a knit mouse and bear, twin baby dolls. My first favorite was a soft stuffed puppy that reminded me of one my brother grew up with. But early on, I left Barkers on a Delta flight. I cried; Jack didn’t notice.

Now I still have plans to buy a new Barkers, and Jack just went happily to bed with a pair of sunglasses. I’m the one who hooked him on a pacifier, insisted on the night light, and has kept his bed, from basket to crib to twin, stocked with a familiar few stuffed animals – a cuddly constant in our two years of moving from room to room and then house to house. But Jack, content to literally rock himself to sleep with a guitar one night, and cuddle up to a model Bobcat loader the next, prefers the change of pace. So who is it that needs the lovey, again?

What’s the bedtime routine at your house? Blankey or wild card?

11 Comments leave one →
  1. September 11, 2010 6:26 pm

    This is both amusing and endearing. Actually – what a tremendous amount of flexibility you have, since the security object changes so easily!

    Both my boys had two or three items over the years, consistently. Right into adolescence. And for each of them, one remains in view in their rooms, still. Not used, but there.

    When you think about it, don’t we don’t the same as adults? It may not be a blanket (or sunglasses), but it might be a ritual, pillows arranged just so, a specific light in the kitchen. We take comfort in small signs of constancy. The world is a chaotic place. It all seems pretty sane – and helpful – whatever our age.

    (And what kind of sunglasses?)


    • September 13, 2010 2:41 am

      We do exactly the same as adults – in this case, Jack vs. me, the adult does it more. I demand flexibility in the same way it’s required of me, between parenting a toddler, working full time and finishing this house, but I also crave routine. I don’t have much to show for it yet, but in certain ways I do want things *just so*. That’s what compelled me to set up Jack’s bedroom before we had hot water, I guess, and what compels me to keep track of what he takes to bed each night. Even if the pattern is no pattern, the night ends with a sort of routine. Small signs of constancy, as you said.

  2. September 11, 2010 8:02 pm

    My daughter has never had a security blanket either and no set favorite cuddly toy. Her bed is filled every night with cuddly toys and there is barely room for her to lie down. She would take lots of other things too but we have a rule of only soft things being allowed in the bed. So sometimes feathers, soft balls and other such things get in there too. Still, I don’t think even without that rule that she would be inclined to take quite such a varied and interesting array of objects to bed with her. Very intriguing – I wonder what this means about his personality?

    • September 13, 2010 2:29 am

      Our rule allows for hard plastic toys (obviously!), but only one at a time. There’s the panda family and the zebra that live in the bed full-time, but that’s more about me than him. I don’t know why he likes variety, but when I was little I did it to maintain equity – I remember eating colored candies so that I didn’t seem to be preferring one over any other. But I’m sure he isn’t THAT big a weirdo. 🙂

  3. September 11, 2010 8:27 pm

    No blankets or other loveys here–just the thumb (and bellybutton!) for one, and for the other, formerly a pacifier and now, sometimes a stuffed animal du jour (nothing consistent). Having been a blanket kid, this makes me a little sad!

  4. September 12, 2010 4:40 pm

    My first didn’t have a lovely. My second is a wild card kiddo. She feel asleep for a week holding Walden Pond. Recently, she chose Malcolm X’s autobiography. Baby dolls are good too. And a hard plastic dinosaur.

  5. Sister permalink
    September 13, 2010 2:27 am

    I think I saw all of those favorite items when I babysat over Skype today. And I may have promised donuts and a treehouse when I visit…

    Also: In the house tour (Aunt Rachel, do you have a drill? Can I see it? What’s that? Can I see your messy couch again? Where did you hammer? Can I see the kitchen? Are you outside? You can’t walk in the street.), he spotted the big, heavy stand mixer. And to his “What’s that, Rachel?” I explained it was a special tool for the kitchen; in fact, the biggest, best tool a kitchen can have.

  6. September 13, 2010 7:37 pm

    Since giving up the Binky, my youngest has a fondness for a die-cast metal blackhawk helicopter. But we have also run the gamete of magna-doodles, sippy cups, books, wooden spoons, matchbox cars, etc.

  7. September 14, 2010 11:22 am

    My goodness, I adore this story. So much fun, and so very indicative of who he is I think. My oldest has no less than four blankes that he sleeps with every night, a bunny and a bear, and until recently fluff. Yes, as in stuffing from the inside of a toy. He started that quirk when we was about 10 months I think. He would roll it through his fingers and take it everywhere. Every once in a while he would ask for “fresh fluff.” To this day he occasionally asks for a piece. We’ve had many a teddy meet their demise in our house.

  8. September 15, 2010 4:16 pm

    My daughter has an army of stuffed creatures and she usually cycles through the few but since her move to the big-girl bed, she starts with a couple in her arms when she’s on her back but when’s ready to fall asleep, she places each one carefully on top of her pillow and rolls over onto her stomach, content with just her blanket on her.

    I adore her routine because I take comfort in it myself. For some reason, because she was never a kid dependent on anything (paci, bottles, blankies) I embraced the first lovey she developed an affection for…and the many others thereafter.

  9. September 15, 2010 8:40 pm

    So fun! My son slept with a toothpaste box (no toothpaste, just the box) for weeks this summer. Right now, he is partial to these two plastic dinosaurs with lots of prickly spines. Surely it can’t feel good to roll over in the night to a stegosaurus in your back, but he loves them just the same. He also sleeps with a one-eyed baby doll that his sister cast out of her room. Maybe I need Jana to do an analysis for me … =>

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