Welcome to February edition of the Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival, hosted by Authentic Parenting and Mudpiemama. This month, participants have looked into the topic of “Fostering Healthy Attachment”. Please scroll down to the end of this post to find a list of links to the entries of the other participants. Enjoy!
There is a farm in my bed. There is also a wild animal park in my bed. And an aquarium filled with marine life. And a daycare center. And a duck egg. Yes, a real duck egg.
We have a Cal King bed. Sleeping in it are a 36 inch almost-three year old, myself, and more stuffed animals, dolls, bath toys, Buddha statues, dream pillows, and gnomes than I can keep track of. Oh yeah – and then there is the duck egg that has found a permanent place under Tiny's pillow.
This month's Carnival theme is fostering healthy attachment. I figured almost everyone else would talk about attachment between humans so I thought I would go out on a limb and look at children's attachment to objects of comfort. Loveys as they are sometimes called.
Tiny has a lot of loveys. Her tried and true lovey is a little wool washcloth. She has to sleep with it no matter what. She also has to sleep with her duck egg. The duck egg is a bit new to the scene – only 2 months old. But nonetheless, it has now become a prominent fixture in our bed. (And yes – it is a REAL egg. And no, it has not cracked. It is an unusually hard duck egg.) But then there is the growing collection of stuffed animals and dolls. Between my 36 inch Tiny who expands to 8ft by 8ft while sleeping and the menagerie of stuffed animals and dolls, it is a wonder that I find a small crevice on which to perch myself in an attempt to sleep.
I want to make something clear. Currently 95% of the animals and dolls occupying our bed are from MY childhood and USED to live at my parents' house. I was a little OCD as a kid and I kept my dolls and toys in mint condition. (Unlike Tiny who has put more marks and stains on my dolls than I ever did). Every time Tiny visits my parents, she brings home another “friend.” Or two. Or three. Or five. (Never four – Tiny has an aversion to four). I try to send some back as new ones arrive but that often backfires. So they all end up in bed with us, minus the few that sit at the end of the bed in a rocking chair.
Tiny gets rather attached to certain animals. She carts them around everywhere for a week or so then moves on to the next one. Certain ones stay in frequent rotation while others are more of a passing novelty. Some are strictly for napping with. Others are strictly for nighttime sleeping with. Others go in the car. Others come to the park. You get the idea.
Tiny has established her own pecking order of whose who amongst her loveys. I have not figured out a method to her madness but then again, it is not really my concern. Tiny is doing exactly what Tiny should do. She is creating a safe haven with her animals and dolls. She is beginning to become involved in imaginative play with them. She is finding solace in tending to their needs which beautifully mirror her own.
When Tiny wants “milkies” undoubtedly one of her babies will want some too. When Tiny gets a little injury, one of her stuffed animals will need a band aid. When Tiny needs to poop, almost every one of her stuffed animals will need to poop too. (Yeah – that takes some time.)
All of her dolls need daily diaper and outfit changes. At some point in the week most everyone has had a scrub down (courtesy of Tiny's magic spit). They take turns eating with us. Some of them are lucky enough to “sleep” in the other room with Rasta Daddy. Even luckier, some get sent to sleep with Gigi and Papa. Every so often one of the smaller animals gets a special spot in bed with our dog or cat. But at each and every nap and each and every bedtime, Tiny gives careful consideration to whom she will cuddle with and then places everyone else along the top and side of the bed.
Did I mention how beautiful this all is?
Some parents get really concerned about their children's attachment to “objects.” I don't. I personally feel that it is a healthy part of development. Sure, there is a fine line between a healthy attachment and an abnormal attachment but I believe that most children work through that in their own time. Typically, there is a reason for the attachment to a special doll, blanket, or egg. 😉 Child need something that brings peace and comfort. As much as we parents want to provide that 24-7, there are times that we cannot. And let's not forget that sometimes we are the source of discomfort (whether we mean to be or not).
Tiny's attachment to her lovey of the hour/day/week/month is organic. Not once have I suggested what object she should sleep with. There are a few stuffed animals that are simply too big and would prove to be a huge sleep distraction, but I simply explain that they are best left to watch over us and that suits Tiny. Tiny has tried to bring some silverware to bed before and I deemed that a safety issue, but otherwise, it is not my place to impose my lovey standards and ideas on Tiny.
The conversations Tiny has with her animals, dolls, Buddhas, and even the egg before bed is just surreal. I am always brought to a halt, enchanted by the sincerity, the warmth, and the genuineness in Tiny. Watching her interact with her lovey makes me long for my childhood.
I mentioned Tiny's staple lovey was a wool washcloth. I am thankful to have purchased three as there have been times that Tiny's “cloth” has gone missing. Even when she is fast asleep on top of me, rubbing my bare belly with one hand and digging into the skin on my hip with the other, her cloth is clutched tightly between two fingers. For whatever reason, this little wool cloth helps Tiny find peace.
I doubt that I will ever worry about Tiny's attachment to her loveys. The chances of her needing them at age 30 are slim. I want her to enjoy them all now, even if it means that I have to squeeze into a 2 inch by 2 inch patch of bed at night. I'm ok with that. This part of Tiny's life, of my life, will be so short. I want Tiny to grow up knowing that she had the freedom to find comfort and security in the way that met her needs the most. And right now, that need involves a duck egg under the pillow, a tightly clenched piece of wool, and a pretty crowded bed.