Monday, April 24, 2006
The Power of a Lovey
I didn't know what a "lovey" was until recently. Actually, I knew what it was I just didn't know it went by that name. What I've learned is that a "lovey" refers to an item that is preferred above all others in a child's world. They LOVE it.
I had a security blanket when I was growing up ... which today ... would be referred to as a "lovey". Same thing.
I remembered the feeling of security I got from my blanket - so I thought that if our kids gravitated toward any particular object ... I wouldn't object ... provided it wasn't something alive, or something that they could choke on.
When the babies were little, I kept a few items in their cribs to spruce 'em up. Each baby had a small stuffed animal. Each baby had a large chenille blanket with their name embroidered on it. Each baby had a smaller chenille blanket (12 inch x 12 inch) that I had knit for them when I was on bedrest.
By the time the babies were 6-months old, William had latched on to the knitted blanket that I had made; Elizabeth had latched on to her stuffed animal ("bunny"); and Carolyn had latched on to the larger chenille blanket. It worked out really well for us because I happened to have THREE of each item (there was one in all three cribs) ... so there was always a back-up, in case one was temporarily missing - or in the wash. In addition, because they weren't all drawn to the same object - we wouldn't have fighting amongst the three. It's almost as if in the wee tiny infant stage ... they let each other know "Hey ... you guys ... dibs on that thing, right there." I wouldn't be surprised. Their, what I consider to be "telepathic" communication skills have always impressed me.
William and Carolyn have a peculiar way of shoving their "blankies" in their mouth. Fortunately, each baby is equally attached to the items that were in the other two cribs, so I can interchange them without any disturbance. I mention this because since they like to chew on their blankets - they tend to get pretty odiferous. To the point that we've dubbed William and Carolyn's blankets "hali" (pronounced hal-lee) for halitosis.
William is just as attached to the pink and white blankets that I knit for the girls, as he is to his blue and green blanket that I knit for him. Likewise, Carolyn is perfectly content with her green blanket; William's blue, or Elizabeth's pink blanket. Elizabeth will be content with William's blue "bear" or Carolyn's white "lamb", but in this case only ... there is none as great as her beloved "bunny". We've noticed the only time that she sucks her thumb is when "bunny" is in hand.
I didn't realize just how powerful the bond to the lovey was until a few months ago. We were out for a walk on the beach and everything was going great. Until ... it got to be around nap time. We had planned the walk so that the babies would snooze in their stroller ... and when they woke up, we'd be back at the car and ready to feed them lunch. Elizabeth started crying. A little cry at first. It escalated in to screaming ... tears streaming down her face, little body thrashing about in her stroller, in complete hysterics. I picked her up to see if I could console her. That wasn't going to do it. She wasn't too hot nor too cold. I tried offering her a bottle and she spit it back at me. I started to get worried and put her down on a beach blanket to make sure that she didn't have a dirty diaper - - and/or - - wasn't being attacked by some indigenous deadly southern California insect (I've heard of that happening before). Her diaper was clean and there was no trace of teeth/fang marks. Phew. Sigh of relief. Back in the stroller she goes ... where the conniption fit continues.
I'm usually pretty level headed, but I started to panic. I asked Charlie to RUN (not walk) back to the car and come meet me. He had William with him in the single stroller and had run a marathon less than a year before. I'd start running back with the girls in the double jogger and we'd rush down to Children's Hospital. My maternal siren was going off ... it was something serious, I just knew it. Maybe it was her appendix. Charlie and I have both had a ruptured appendix so it wouldn't surprise me in the least.
Charlie raced back and got the car ... I was hot on his heels. I got the girls out of the stroller and in to their carseats while Charlie loaded our equipment. When I strapped Elizabeth in to her carseat, she grabbed a hold of "bunny" who had been left behind in the car. Her thumb went in her mouth ... she rubbed "bunny" against her cheek and gave me a smile through her tears. A happy, contented smile. I couldn't believe it. Within 30 seconds of being reunited with her "bunny", she was fast asleep. Charlie hadn't even finished loading the strollers when I looked at him through the back window and shrugged "Well, I guess it wasn't her appendix, afterall."
Our "take-away" from this experience is that we never go ANYWHERE without a lovey. On a more recent outing to the mall, we temporarily lost "bunny" and had to re-trace our steps before finding him, perched by a nice passerby on a wall where he'd be visible and out of foot traffic. Since then, these little objects are literally tethered to our carseats, stroller, Kelty backpack ... or if we're away from the house and they'll be any walking involved, we tether them to the babies themselves.
All three babies are extremely attached to their loveys. Yet, only Elizabeth will wake up - from a sound sleep in the middle of the night and literally SCREAM until she either finds "bunny" in her crib ... or, as is usually the case ... Mom and Dad fly out of bed thinking the house is on fire ... and go find "bunny" for her (case in point 2 AM and again at 4 AM ... this morning). More and more, we can count on at least one wake-up call from Elizabeth in the middle of the night to find "bunny" who is only 6-inches away.
Across the board I can see that the bond to these loveys are growing stronger and stronger. The babies insist that they sit in their highchairs with their loveys and will scream blue bloody murder when I take them away because otherwise they will be smothered in marinara sauce or jelly. They are wonderful things, these lovey's. They calm a fussy baby down like nothing else. All it takes is us saying "Where's (insert name here)?" and the babies will take off like hounds through the house searching for their lovey. If I find the lovey before they do ... their little eyes light up and they have to cover their mouths with their hands ... the excitement is so great. It really is adorable.
But ... it's not adorable between the hours of 10 PM and 6 AM. Infact, it's the most "anti-adorable" thing I can think of. We've tried letting Elizabeth cry-it-out and have even gone so far as to leave a night light on so that she can locate "bunny" on her own. Although this works fine during day time naps, it doesn't work well at night. Actually - it might, but we can only tolerate about 3 minutes of crying ... before one of us has to run to the nursery ... reunite Elizabeth with "bunny" and get back - as quickly as possible - to bed and our coveted sleep. At this point, the only thing left to do - is to contact Baby Boyds and purchase enough "bunny(s)" to fill the crib to the brim. If anyone has a better idea ... please let me know. Otherwise, I'm placing an order for 50 extra "bunny(s)" at midnight, tomorrow.
I'd never have guessed the bond to a lovey could be so great. You know ... it's funny. With the attachment that she has to her lovey ... one might think Elizabeth would have liked the Easter "Bunny" better than she did.
Edited to read: God help us. I've spent the past hour on the internet looking for a replica of Elizabeth's "bunny" and I can't find one, anywhere. Nothing comes remotely close. What if they discontinued making "bunny"?? Is that possible??! I've always felt somewhat safe knowing that worse case scenario ... I could buy another one, or two, or three ... or fifty. And now it looks like our Baby Boyds "bunny" has gone extinct. How will we make bread?!