Thursday, February 2, 2012

Security Blanket - or Security Rag, or Security Chin

When I was little, we all had security blankets. Mine was a soft white waffle weave with yellow satin binding. It started off a bit worse for wear, being a hand-me-down from my sister, and went downhill from there. When I was scared, or sleepy, I would comfort myself by clutching it in my left hand and rubbing it against my face while I sucked my thumb. By the time I outgrew it it had become ragged, grubby, and pilled, with long strips of binding hanging literally by a thread. My sister also had a security blanket. She was so attached to hers that I remember my mom describing how she would stand anxiously by the washing machine while it was being washed, and would then follow my mom to the backyard while she hung it on the clothesline and would then stand out under the clothesline hanging onto it for hours while it dried.

Kids today seem to have expanded their “security” repertoire – so much so that a “security blanket” is no longer called a security blanket, but a “lovey”. It might be a stuffed animal, or a pacifier, or a small toy, or some other random object that the child has decided for some unfathomable reason is a comfort. And in keeping with their generation, both of my children chose non-blanket objects as their loveys.

My son did, at least, stay within the textile family. When he was born, my husband and I bought several packs of two dozen plain white washcloths from Costco. These cloths served as burp cloths, bibs, handkerchiefs, impromptu changing tables, teething rings, sponges – anything you could possibly do with a piece of terrycloth, we did with them. And my son, God love him, chose them as his lovey. Even now, when he is overly tired or not feeling well, he begs for a “rag” to snuggle with and chew on. In our opinion, it’s the ideal comfort object, since we have 48 of them and there is guaranteed to be one within reach anywhere in the house and in both cars. We don’t have to worry about him being anxious while his lovey is in the wash, because there are dozens more exactly like it for him to choose from. And if we lose one? No problem, there are 47 more around.

My daughter, on the other hand, has been somewhat more creative and varied in her choice of lovey. Since she tends to be a flailer, reaching out with her arms and kicking out with her legs when she is agitated or upset, she will grab onto whatever object is handy to calm herself down and help keep herself still. It could be a blanket, but it could also be a doll, a block, my finger, my hair – whatever her little hand happens to encounter first. She does this especially when she is having a bottle. My favorite position to feed her in is sitting at my computer with my feet up on the desk and her nestled in the little cradle of my belly, with the back of her head on my chest and her feet at my knees. I love it because I can lean down and sniff and nuzzle the top of her sweet fuzzy baby head. She loves it because she can not only reach up and grab her own ears and hair, as she often does, but she can also reach up and pat my face or cup my chin. My chin seems to be her favorite comfort object of late. With her eyes shut tight, she flails upwards in the general direction of my face until she smacks my chin, then she grabs on tight with her little kitten claws and I can feel her relax. This is another reasonably convenient lovey, since there will always be a chin handy for her to hang onto – it might not be mine, but I suspect the chin of whoever is taking care of her will be acceptable.

Loveys may have changed over the years from a security blanket into various other huggable objects, but I’m not complaining. There’s no higher honor than to be a human lovey for my own sweet loveys.

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