September 28, 2007

Baby Security Blanket

"Mom, where's my purple blanket?"
I froze. This was it - the moment of truth.

* * *

Two hours earlier I had brought Pixie's ratty purple blanket down to the laundry room to wash the stink out of it for the millionth time. I filled the machine with detergent, loaded the other clothes, then held up the old chenille blanket with my fingertips. If you could even call it a blanket anymore. The weave had come undone and it was full of gapping holes my toddler could fit her limbs through. I had re-hemed it more than once but it was a losing battle and I had been thinking of throwing it out for months now. Today was trash day...

The maintenance man was at the apartment complex today and should be emptying the laundry room trash in just a few minutes. The blanket had been Pixie's constant companion since birth but it was just plain nasty now. It needed to be done. She'd probably never notice when it didn't come up with the clean laundry. I dropped the blanket in the garbage can, feeling immensely relieved to have finally done the deed.

* * *

I opened her bedroom door and looked down at her. "I need my purple blanket," she repeated.
I hadn't planned how to handle this. I knelt down next to her and looked at her silently, thinking of a easy way to break the news. "Your purple blanket is ruined," I said.

I watched with amazement as Pixie's face disappeared into her lower lip. Her eyes widened then welled with tears. She didn't make a sound but began quivering, overwhelmed with emotion. I had never seen her this distraught before. I held out my arms for a hug and she stumbled to me, gasping in shock. She put her arms around my neck and held tight, shaking. I hadn't expected a reaction like this and felt terrible. After all, the blanket wasn't doing any harm by being ratty. It was a huge part of Pixie's life and traveled with her on all her adventures and playdates. She'd had it since birth and its simple presence had always calmed and soothed her for nap time or car trips. What had I done?

I pushed back from Pixie. The tears were streaming down her face now and grief was still shaking her body. "Maybe I can find it..." I said. She nodded her head and was finally able to choke out a sob. I jumped up and rushed for the apartment door. Surely I was too late. I had trashed the blanket almost two hours ago. The maintenance man would have cleaned the laundry room by now. What had I done?

I ran into the laundry room and over to the trash can. There, under a heap of dryer lint and an empty detergent bottle, was the purple blanket. For the first time, I was grateful for our maintenance man's bad habit of neglecting to clean our laundry room. I grabbed the blanket, gave it a good shake to get the lint off and rushed back upstairs to my grief-stricken child.

"Pixie! I found it!!" I shouted.
"Thank you, thank you, thank you," said Pixie. She took the blanket gently and climbed back into her bed, pressing her face into the threadbare chenille. Still letting out occasional sobs, she closed her eyes and tried to fall asleep.

As I closed her bedroom door, I knew I'd never be able to throw the blanket out again. I have looked for a replacement in the past but had been unable to find the exact blanket. This one will just have to last. I'll have it plasticized. I'll have it bronzed. I'll do whatever it takes, this blanket is here to stay. Pixie's fragile emotional health, and consequently mine, depend on it.

40 comments:

Nancy said...

My sister had a blanket that she took everywhere when she was little. Eventually, my mom cut out the nicest part of the blanked and hemmed it. It went from big blanket to little square, but my sister loved it anyway. The children's book 'Joseph had a Little Overcoat' tells the story of a coat that gets made into other items as it gets wold and worn out.

MommyJ said...

we too have a blanket like this at our house. we spent a week in total agony when it was left at grandma's house. Bedtime was a nightmare! It rides in the car, it watches tv, it takes walks to the mailbox. Plasticized... now that is a good idea.

Lacey said...

My girls have blankets.
Really they were just cotton fabric that I used to cover while nursing in public or to swaddle them while they were newborns that had lace or rick rack sewn around the edge.
We have three for each.
My eldest is four and her favorite one is getting large holes near the edges. My husband wants to fix it I want to retire it to a bag of memories. (The bag also has things like the outfits we brought them home in, hospital bracelets, and hats from when they were born. I'm no scrapbooker, that's why it's a bag.)

We allow then to bring them into the car, but they rarely leave the car, unless they're being babysat during a nap.
They also sleep with stuffed animals now. My husband thinks of it as one more thing we have to look for before bedtime.

Children and their security blankets/ toys. They can be hard to separate from one another.

holly said...

Samantha still has her little pink baby doll. Landon still has his puppy. And Julie has her puppy. Samantha doesn't NEED to have hers now, but she still likes to have it around.

Special K ~Toni said...

You are such a good mama!

Susan M said...

My little brother had a security blanket. It ended up completely shredded, but he still carried it around. I think he had it until he was about 5.

I had a bottle until I was 5.

shauna said...

i love this entry! you are such a good mom. what a precious little girl you have. my three year old's blankie is threads also, but I can't seem to make her part with it either. Oh well, it's not hurting anything right? thanks for sharing your stories (and avatars).

marcus said...

I have a "security" blanket that I've had since I was born. One year, around Christmas, I sat too close to the fire with it, and part of it melted. My mom tried to replace it with a nearly identical one, but that one just wasn't the same. So my mom cut out the singed parts, re-assembled the pieces into a rough approximation of it's original shape. I remember being ecstatic that she was able to fix MY blanket.

So, be grateful, she loves what she's got and saved you some money. It won't be too long before what she has isn't good enough and will need a new one of everything.

dawn said...

Girl, my 21 year old still has his teddy and won't get rid of it. The thing is disgusting but he loves it. Thanks for the comment. Have a great weekend!

Gramma Editor said...

When our number one child got to the point where she threw never-ending tantrums if we ever went anywhere without her ratty flannel blanket, I cut it into pieces and stuffed a pillow with it. Then when she asked where it was, I cheerfully said, "Here, in this pillow. It had so many holes in it but I didn't want to throw it away."

Her reaction? "Okay." That was it.

She never got into wanting that pillow, and the whole 'indispensible blanke't issue evaporated in a moment. I don't know why it worked.

By the way, Penny's blanket also gets lavender lint all over the place. You are a softie for her. Someday she'll appreciate it.

Shiloh said...

I'm glad for this advice before I need it. When I have kids maybe I'll just give them a plastic blanket to begin with! ;)
Sarah-- you are a great mom. Penny and Char are lucky girls!

glittersmama said...

I sat behind a family on my most recent plane trip with Glitter (and her blanket). I was talking to the mom and she said that her kids still have their baby blankets. The kids were 8 and 12 years old. They both held them up for me to see.

One of my college roommates still had little pieces of her baby blanket, and she's pretty normal. Nothing to worry about.

Amy said...

Oh great. I've been working up my courage to take away the pacifier, and then you post this. Thanks for nothing.

Mary said...

None of my kids had pacifiers. I just couldn't stand how it looked to see a baby attached to a paci, so I never got them started. None of them were ever overattached to a blanket or stuffed animal either. I think they are pretty normal.

And Sarah, I'm very flattered that you have linked to me! I will answer that other question via email.

wynne said...

I had Soft Blanket when I was little.

*sniff*

My mom threw it out. When I asked her where it had gone, she lied. I can't remember what she said--"I don't know" or "maybe you lost it." I figured out, years later, what had happened. *sniff* It has scarred me for life and has caused deep *sob* trauma and I *weep* really miss that blanket.

It must've really smelled.

Kerri said...

I had a friend in high school who took her "booby" to sleepovers. I thought it was so silly that a 16 year-old who was having a VERY serious relationship with her boyfriend still had to sleep with a blanket. Now that I have Tyler, I can't imagine trying to take his "badey" away. As mothers, what choice do we have? Do we convert it to a quilt and give it to them as a wedding present? Surely, it must end somewhere, right???

aubrey said...

ava had a blanket that turned so ratty, my friends started making fun of it. it was like her third arm. and she sucked her thumb. the day before her 4th birthday though, we told her that four year olds don't carry around blankets or suck their thumbs. so on the morning of her birthday, she calmly handed over her blanket and stopped sucking her thumb. as much as i wanted to, i didn't toss her blanket, i just put it in storage.

Summer said...

It was very sweet of you to go chasing after it. And you are SO right, your sanity very much depends on their happiness.

Anonymous said...

You are so funny I can hardly stand it. Thanks for some good laughs!!

Erica said...

such a cute story. My girls both have blankets that they MUST have to sleep or to travel or when they're sick. Luckily I bought 2 of each so that when one is washing the other can be given to them and in case one is lost there is a backup...they don't know there is 2 :) my blanket I had growing up had a singed corner from playing with matches and a whole side with the colors "sucked out" from sucking and chewing on it through my younger years...do I still have that blanket...you bet...and I have my mothers...:)

Hollywood said...

Marcus, what a great mommy you have! I didn't realize just how important it was to Penny until it was gone but now I finally understand how important these little items can be in a child's life.

I still have my teddy bear that I got when I was six. I slept with it until I got married and then I felt silly having it in front of my hubby so I'd keep it under my edge of the bed and sneak it out once the lights were out. He eventually found out and laughed at me. When I had my first baby I passed the bear on to her. She doesn't really care for him all that much but I'd prefer it that way so he stays in good shape!

Amy, I think pacifiers are in another category because there is some debate as to the negative effects of them. Blankets don't stunt your speech development, change the shape of your mouth or get nasty, wet bacteria inside that can get you sick. We took Penny's paci away cold turkey when she was 18 months. I expected a big fuss because she was an addict but after an hour of crying she never gave it a second thought.

Aubry, I can't believe how mature your little girl is to just give up her blanket like that! I'm pretty sure mine won't be so willing. She's got serious attachment issues.

Erica, I wish I had known when I bought this particular blanket that it would end up being "the one." I would have bought five of them. She had literally 20 different baby blankets and this ended up being the one she loved the best. I went back to the store where I bought it about 6 months afterwards when it was clear this one would wear out fast but it was already gone (it was a baby consignment shop). Argh.

JLJ said...

Your guilty feeling is the same one I have whenever my daughter finds one of her precious preschool projects (she brings home approximately 5 per day) in the trash. Of course I intentionally put it there, but her devastated reaction breaks my heart and forces me to say with shocked surprise "What?! How did that get there? Look, it's not even dirty, see?" Or if it is totally soiled from the trash, "I can't believe Dad threw that away!"

Anonymous said...

Written by Catherine:
You all make me look heartless. I throw things away all the time. When the kids ask or find them in the trash I'm brutally honest. "It was lying around" or "It was too old" or, "If you don't want it in the garbage you have to keep it safe in your treasure box." Thats a good trick. We have 1 big toy chest that the kids use to store things so that I won't throw them away.

The kids stay better organized if they learn not to be pack rats.

I figure honestly answering the kids about what I've done will teach them to trust my word even if it makes them sad at times. It also keeps me on my toes not to do anything that is unjust.

Adrienne said...

Man, you softie! We had a family friend who's kid had the same blanket issue. When she was six and we were on a road trip with her family, I tossed it under the car at a rest stop (I think I was 10 at the time..maybe 9?) What can I say? I'm going to hell. In my defense, though, that kid was ANNOYING and much older than Penny. Plus, I don't recall her being terribly broken up about it...

Give it another year, and then make it into a hankie for her or something.

Colleen said...

Aww, just picturing that sweet little face got ME all teary-eyed!

I'm going to be 30 years old in December and I still have my "blankie" tucked away in a box somewhere. My married 25 year old sister keeps hers on her bed.

KIbler said...

Sarah, I still have my blankets (I have two...), They have survived three transatlantic moves and look a whole lot nastier then Pennys. I don't ever use them but can't make myself throw them away. They rest neatly in the back of my closet... Mental health.... Yes... Im crazy..

Annie said...

My sister burned my blankie. I have never been able to find anything as soft.

Becky said...

When I was a kid I had a blankie. One Christmas my mom told me that if I put it under the Christmas tree that Santa would take it to somebody that needed. I don't remember ever needing anything again for that sense of security.

emma jo said...

That story actually made me want to cry. I have to admit that I am as attached to my girls' blankets as they are....not surprising as seeing how I still slept with my blue baby blanket until a couple of years ago when my 4 year old took possession of it...sometimes I lay down with her just to find comfort in it's cuddle.

pflower10 said...

My sister loved silky things as a child. She would stand next to my mom wrapped around her leg sucking her thumb on one hand and the other hand up my mom's dress feeling her slip between her fingers. Mom my was trying to get my sister to stop putting her hand up her dress and would scold her when she did. This was no good because my sister then didn't get to feel her silky like she wanted to. Well, after a few weeks of this 'Battle of the Silky' we were at church and my sister was sitting on my dad's lap sucking her thumb when all of a sudden my dad looks down at her at sees that she has pulled a pair of my mom's red silky underwear (you know the kind) out of her pocket and was rubbing them on one side of her face. My dad about blew a gasket. He is not one to see the humor in the situation AT ALL! After church that day my mom took one of her slips and made a 'Silky Blanket' out of it for my sister.

A Ladies Slip - $30

Binding and lace to put around the "BLANKET" - $10

Getting my dad to agree to not throw the 'Silky' away - I really don't want to know

Keeping her toddlers hand out from under my mom's dress and the red silky underwear at home - Priceless

Lisa Fewox said...

My brothers cut up my blanket into little "swatches" and hid them throughout the house when I was about 5. Having older brothers really sucked back then, now they are just ok. (j/k. they really have grown up!)

Heffalump said...

When I was a kid I had a pillow made of satin that I called my slippery pillow. My Mom said it was not washable. It got drooled on, dripped on with red popcicle, left on the floor...it was a mess. It was my security. Mom made a pillowcase for it to hide the ick, but I liked the smooth, slippery feel of it, so I often took the pillowcase off. My parents constantly threatened to throw it out. I even walked in my sleep once and put it in the dirty clothes.
One day my Dad got rid of it (I was probably six years old or so). It never came back. I am still angry about it.
I say they should have washed it anyhow. You did the right thing getting Penny's blanket back for her.

Angela said...

this post was great and the comments were even funnier! i'm going try hard not to let jocelyn get attached to any inanimate objects. maybe we should get her a dog instead.

chronicler said...

Thank goodness it was still there! I don't even want to think of what post we would have read if the blankie had gone to the other place. eeeek!

Melissa said...

Glad it was still there! My brother had a blanket like that. Thread bare and a huge mess... he eventually gave it up packing it everywhere, but he still slept with it for a long time. As a matter of fact, he might still sleep with it now! (he's 23... )

that one girl said...

just really, really good writing.

Nancy Sabina said...

When my first was born and it came time to buy some sort of lovey I decided to go with an animal instead of a blanket. So I bought this adorable stuffed cat and we named him Bob because she used to chant "ba-ba-ba-ba-ba.." endlessly. Plus, Bob Cat - that's cute. She loved Bob. She slept with Bob - same story as everybody else. But here's the kicker. I heard stories like yours so I went out and bought a second "Bob" that I figured would either be a replacement at some ratty moment - or it would be this great keepsake when she was older to pass on to her daughter or something. SHE DOESN'T LOVE BOB ANYMORE! She moved on to "snowball" the dog. So now I have a Bob in my closet and a Bob in her room and nobody loves either one of them.
You just can't win.

Amy said...

Sarah Flake...to a toddler, that is the equivalent of saying, "I'm sorry honey, I put your father down the garbage disposal."
I'm SO glad you found that blanket, for both of your sakes!

CACKEL said...

this was a great post. i am so glad that it had a happy ending. it really got me right there.

Anonymous said...

my husband still sleeps with his baby blanket over his eyes EVERY NIGHT! he says it is because it is of the perfect wieght so he won't get rid of it. I mean it, if he doesn't have it over his eyes everynight, he will not sleep.

ahh, i am so proud