During our transfer from Milwaukee to Europe, John’s blankee (or “doodoo” as they call it here) was packed up in a box and loaded on the moving truck, not to be seen again for months as it sat on a dock and traveled by boat across the ocean. So as we prepared for our transatlantic flight, the jet lag we knew was coming once we landed, and most of all, the giant transition from the States to Luxembourg, I was heartbroken that he wouldn’t have his little 12×12 inch blue and brown security blanket. His world was about to change.
Rob delivered the news to me on the phone as the movers finished loading the last pieces of furniture onto the truck. That was the moment when I finally cracked under the pressure of a fast-paced international move with three kids while six-months-pregnant. In a frantic, hormonal, somewhat high-pitched voice, I told Rob to offer each mover $200 bucks and a steak dinner to unload the damn truck and open every box until they found it. I heard the words coming out of my mouth, and I didn’t even care how awful they sounded. That night, Rob ran out to Kohl’s and bought John a soft bathroom hand towel that had an embroidered “J” on it in the hopes that it would serve as a temporary replacement.
So it was a rough couple of nights, particularly since we were all crammed in hotel rooms while John learned to fall asleep without his blankee for the first time in his life. But Charlie lent John his “Sleepy Bear,” a sweet little blanket with a tiny bear’s head, and within a week, John was attached to his new lovey…..much to Charlie’s disappointment! It was only supposed to be a loaner! Sweet generous Charlie. When we eventually unpacked the original blankee, John could have cared less about it. He had moved on.
Meanwhile, in the midst of all this blankee drama, Madeline left her beloved Little Giraffe pink blankee in a cab en route to the airport. We couldn’t believe it. Two of my children lost their transitional objects during the biggest transition of their young lives!
In a strange way, I’m attached to their loveys too. I’ve handed them these soft and sometimes smelly blankets at every nap and bedtime for years. It’s a surefire way to comfort, soothe, and ease a child to sleep…. You know that question, “If your house caught on fire and you could only save one thing?” Yep. I’d probably snatch my kids’ blankets and run out the door.
And so, I relieved these moments of loss last week when we got home from London and realized John left Sleepy Bear somewhere on our travel day home. We called the airport in Lux and London. Someone on our flight left behind a blue tie….but they did not find Sleepy Bear. Our first night home, I handed John one of the three blankees I bought and had embroidered to look identical to the original blankee we lost in Wisconsin (which Aunt Andi once found under his upholstered rocking chair on an emergency scouting trip by following her nose!). He cried a little, but stuffed it in his mouth as is his habit, and eventually drifted off to sleep.
I never heard a peep about it again. Besides asking me to send an “important letter” to the airport the second day Sleepy Bear was gone, John has never mentioned it since. Well, until yesterday. He asked matter-of-factly, “Mommy, did anyone find Sleepy Bear?” It about broke my heart to answer him honestly. But this time around, I never freaked out. I knew it would be okay, even though John and I both felt sad. And I still feel sad when I imagine Sleepy Bear sitting discarded on a chair somewhere. Or when I remember Madeline’s blanket with its worn spots on the satin lining that she rubbed between her fingers and the soft chenille that was washed so many times it became matted and nubby.
It’s such a testament to the resiliency of kids. And an important lesson to me to have confidence in my children’s ability to adjust and move on.
(Photograph by Daria Nepriakhina)