If you’ve been reading my previous blogs then you’ll already know the story (and have seen pictures) of when V received his first toy: his Pooh Bear layette! When we first brought it for him in the NICU we figured it would keep him company until he got home and saw all of the other awesome toys and blankets awaiting him, not the cheap little thing we picked up at Walmart on a frantic afternoon away. Little did we know that it was the start of a beautiful and serious relationship between one tiny little boy and his comfort blanket.
I know that most of us, as children, had a stuff animal, or lovie blanket that we carried around day after day, night after night, keeping our secrets, snuggling and chasing monsters away when we were tucked up tight in bed. I know even as adults, some of us, myself included, have one or two that we keep to remind us of easier times and maybe give us comfort when we’ve just had one of those days/weeks/months. The thing with stuff animals is that they never give you any judgement or attitude, they just lie there and take the tears, hugs, or punches, whatever you need at the time. As a parent I assumed my child would have a toy that spoke to him but I didn’t really think about how that toy would be chosen or understand just how much he would love it. I think every parent of a small child understands the absolute world ending panic that occurs, both for your child AND yourself when you’re unable to find that ONE toy they can’t do without. Its like the apocalypse happening in slow motion…
As for Pooh’s beginnings, when V was in the NICU, he was so tiny that the nurses actually used Pooh Bear as a blanket, resting him onto of V’s swaddle for a little extra warmth. Sometimes Pooh would migrate up to V’s head and they’d participate in some tete-a-tete snuggles, but they wouldn’t last for long since it was dangerous to keep anything near V;s tubes, wires and face while he was in the isolette.
When we got home V kept Pooh Bear close as he moved into his bassinet and crib. We noticed, especially when he had colic, that it was one of the only things that helped soothe him. Our nighttime routine was swaddle, soother, music, Pooh Bear. Pooh Bear also hung out with V on his playmat and during tummy time to make it less traumatic on our little drama king. When V was starting to reach out for things, Pooh Bear was right at hand for those first tentative grasps, and when he was learning to focus his eyes on objects and hold his little head up Pooh Bear was a great focal point.
As V grew into toddlerhood, Pooh Bear took on new roles. He was a great teether for when V’s gums were giving him issues and around 6 months totally replaced the soother when V ditched the plastic in favour of sucking on Pooh Bears arms. Pooh Bear still travels to all of V’s doctors appointments and takes the sting out of those ouchie vaccinations. When our little guy started to walk he used to try and trade Pooh Bear to people for things he also saw as valuable. Most memorably he tried offering Pooh Bear to his Uncle S in return for a sip of his beer…no dice little man! He just couldn’t understand why everyone wasn’t as overjoyed as himself to have Pooh Bear by his side.
Pooh has been through more car rides than we can count and even two trip to Florida! He’s a well travelled stuffie who doesn’t mind being sogged to death when V decides to take a nap while he waits to get wherever we’re headed, Pooh Bear hanging out of his mouth. Pooh has also sadly made several trips to the ER and tagged along for V’s week long stay at Children’t Hospital last year.
One of the most important roles that Pooh Bear fills though is as emotional support and confidant. As V starts to work his way around all these big emotions swirling in his tiny body he needs an anchor when everything else seems to be all messed up. No matter how V is feeling; happy, sad, scared, angry, Pooh Bear is there to help him through. V will take a few minutes to pull himself together, suck on Pooh’s arm, stroke his head, occasionally cover his face with the blanket portion and get himself back on track to being a functioning kiddo.
I know that a lot of parents are in a hurry to distance their child from their comfort object be it a blanket, soother, toy etc but as parents A and I are really going with the flow. Pooh makes V happy so I’m happy for V to have Pooh, when and where he needs him.
The most common rebuttal we hear when we send him out with his Pooh is ‘What are you going to do when he goes to school? Other kids will make fun of him!’. All I feel like saying is ‘WHOA! Slow down there buddy! This kid has JUST turned three, this toy keeps him happy during travel, naps and long outings, and it’s not hurting anyone, least of all you!’
I know that he won’t take it to kindergarten with him but I don’t see a reason to rush him away from what is his main coping mechanism at the moment. Kindergarten will be the start to a whole new routine, and Pooh Bear just won’t even come into the picture, but as his life is right now, Pooh Bear is a member of our family and where we go, he goes. It’s also great to have such a loved constant in V’s life. We know that wherever he is right now; home, grandparents, car, vacation, he’ll have Pooh Bear with him when he’s trying to adjust to new or different environments. We value constants as adults so why would we deny them to our kids who don’t have the life experience or maturity to know how to work through all of those conflicting emotions.
Pooh was also great for self soothing when we were ready to move V into his crib from our room. We just stressed that he had his own room now and things would be okay since Pooh Bear was there. We only had a couple of night of issues before everything settled into our current routine. However if Pooh Bear, that sneaky devil, makes his way off the bed or under the pillow during the night and V can’t find him immediately during his half asleep fumbling then we definitely hear about it. A mad run to the room and a Pooh Bear search will usually result in all parties returning to sleep within 3 minutes flat.
The best thing V does with Pooh Bear though is this sound he makes when you first hand him over after he hasn’t seen him in a while. He immediately puts Pooh Bear into his mouth and moans like an addict getting his fix for the first time, closing his eyes to savour the moment. I ask you, when as an adult was the last time you were that happy? How simple it is to be a kid!
One word of advise to parents who find their kids with a strong emotional attachment to a toy, BUY MULTIPLES! Seriously….buy ALL of them! There will never be enough! We have 7 Pooh Bears and we rotate them because with all of the sucking they get pretty gross and we swap them out for a ‘bath’ every day. This kind of wear and tear is pretty hard on a cheap stuffie or blanket so you want to be prepared. I really try to not think about the first day our kid has to go to bed without Pooh. I imagine a lot of tears and very little sleep will be had. We had our first ‘accident’ last week when Pooh’s head came off but Daddy can fix anything (just ask V) and sewed his head on good as new. Hang in there Pooh Bear…you’ve got a few more good years in you yet!