Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Cold Turkey

Last weekend, Diane called me at work with some news: "Guess what? Kailey just gave up her blankie."

"Really?"

"Yup. I just finished putting her to bed when she walked out and told me she was too old for her blankie. So she folded it up, put it in the linen closet, and went back to bed."

My heart sank and I literally had to fight back the tears. It was another indication that my baby girl was growing up. While I'm proud of her maturity and the way she came to the decision on her own, there's a part of me that has a hard time letting go.

I knew this was coming. Diane has been prepping Kailey for this moment for months. "OK, when your birthday comes, Kailey, it's time to give up the blankie because nine year-olds don't have blankies." What's the big deal? I thought. It's not like she carried it around with her everywhere she went, holding it to her head and sucking her thumb. She just used it at bedtime and in the mornings when she got up. And besides, even Diane has a "blankie"...she likes to sleep with a quilt that her grandmother made. So I told Kailey, "You just tell Mommy that you'll give up your blankie when she gives up hers."

I'm not sure what it was about this particular blankie. Like most babies, Kailey had about one million blankies in which we used to swaddle her, then cover her at nighttime as she got older. But this was the blankie that she became attached to, the chosen one. Perhaps she liked the green and white checkerboard pattern on the one side, but more than likely she was attracted to the cute farm animals on the other: tiny chicks, lambs, and cows in a varying pattern. This was her blankie, the blankie that became the subject of nightly pre-bedtime searches for the past nine years, the blankie that calmed her fears and accompanied her into deep, peaceful sleep night after night.

Well Kailey's 9th birthday came and went. Diane reminded her of her position on blankies and nine year-olds (while I rolled my eyes), but didn't force her to get rid of it. A week later, it was neatly folded and lovingly deposited with care in the hall linen closet. Something in her mind just clicked and she decided she didn't need it anymore, that Mommy was right: she was nine and too old for blankies. And I know what's coming. Soon she'll be too old for stuffed animals, too old for dollies, and too old for Barbie's, each graduation bringing with it a fresh wave of bitter-sweet pride where we celebrate Kailey's transitions into womanhood while mourning the loss of her childhood.

The other night I went into Kailey's room to check on her before retiring for the evening, and I was happy to find her snuggling with her blankie. She had retrieved it from the closet and told Diane that she thought she needed it for "just one more night". And I think that's OK. It's hard to quit anything cold turkey. She slept with it that night then returned it to the linen closet, this time pushing it way to the back where it has stayed ever since. Until this morning. I retrieved it to wash it, perhaps for one final time before it becomes yet another artifact of Kailey's childhood. I'll wash it, then return it to the back of the closet. That way, if Kailey has one of those nights where she feels she needs a little help, it will be there waiting for her.


4 comments:

StewedMonkeyBrains said...

It's so bittersweet when they "stage up". Mine's 5 and she's starting to surprise me with million dollar words (in context!) that I hadn't realized I used around her and whatnot. The training wheels are almost off... but she still uses her blankie and "friend" at night.

BTW, that video always makes me a little sad. It's lost some impact over about 1000 viewings, but it's still there. Sarah McLachlan has an amazing voice.

jimmy jackson said...

Here are some tips to guide you in finding good products for your bed that will be both stylish and long. We all want to get quality for the money we pay for our bed linenand bedding accessories but how do we know what to look for.

Anonymous said...

I had forgotten about that clip. Now I'm feeling a little sad. Kailey heard me listening to the clip and came in to watch it. She said, "I don't want to grow up." I said, " I don't want you to grow up either." So, that makes 3 of us.

the battered ham said...

StewedMonkeyBrains....mmmm...my favorite.

Yeah, I love SM's voice...she's got incredible range. I hadn't seen the clip in quite some time as Toy Story 2 has been pushed to the back of the girls' video collection.

Last night I went in to check on the girls after getting home late from class, and who do you think I found sleeping next to Kailey? Her Jesse doll. Apparently after watching the clip with Diane, Kailey fished the doll out from under her bed (just like the clip), but instead of giving her away, she gave her a little lovin'. I just can't seem to get rid of this lump in my throat!

JimmyJack, thanks for the comment, but we're not really looking for bedding accessories...unless you have access to an indestructibly sturdy, not flattening, extra firm pillow. Then we'll talk.

And Hon, don't worry. We'll get through it together.