Beek: A Lovey Story
I feel like loveys have been a recurring theme in my adult life. I mean, I had (still have) one myself, a bunny puppet I named Beth, but loveys have been a significant part of my adult life in more meaningful ways.
I'm a huge fan of loveys. To me, a small child, even an infant, showing a preference for a toy (or other objects; loveys don't discriminate) is a miraculous thing. That physical and emotional comfort, usually gleaned from beloved people, can be transformed, anthropomorphized into an everyday object is wonderful. Big Brother J has a bear called Nick (which he named), Miss E has both a blankie and a soft purple pajamaed baby doll, called Blankie and Baby, and O has his "guys," a revolving collection of miniature stuffed animals which almost always includes an 8" Wally the Green Monster, but his one true lovey is still his pacifier, which he calls "NuNu."
Those items and the kids' relationships with them tell me a lot about them. Big Brother J is an old and uncluttered soul, he likes order and structure, and he has a lot of type A, elder brother wisdom. A single bear, unfrilly, with an oddly adult name, who lives quietly up on the top bunk in the boys' room, makes perfect sense. Nick is always there, but doesn't draw unwanted scrutiny. Miss E is a middle child and a drama queen, constantly seeking approval and attention, and so needs multiple items, without too much individual identity, so as not to move the spotlight off of her. They play a distinctly supporting role in her personal drama. O, the baby, is very self sufficient, secure, whimsical and imaginative, and a bevy of friends suits him. His attachment to a baby item keeps him firmly rooted in his position in the sibling hierarchy, well cared for and given free reign to dream.
I once gave an elephant to my infant godson. By whatever accident of fate (I don't think G could tell you who gave him his Hort), that elephant became his lovey, and their lovey story is epic in nature. Hort got a companion; they became the Horts. Now that he's a big boy, the Horts are less of everyday players than they once were, but I still feel strangely blessed to have been part of the original Hort's genesis.
The there's the lovey closest to my heart. My son's. For his first year I despaired. He never formed that magical attachment with a random inanimate object. I laughed at myself for being so upset by it, but the truth? I was crushed. His lovey was me. He was a fantastic nurser once we got the hang of it, and preferred nursing to sleep. He didn't need a prop, thankyouverymuch. Rationally, I knew I should break the habit, but what's sweeter than a sleeping baby in your lap? His first birthday came and went. He was a standing, babbling, milk drinking, cheerio clutching human, and still, he declined any stuffed toy I tried. At fifteen months, I was pretty much done with nursing, and so I stepped up my search. I wanted him to have something to turn to if I wasn't available. I wanted him to have something his own. I noticed that he liked the feel of the terry robe I often wore when nursing, and would rub his hands on it as he nodded off, so I searched the boxes and drawers for something that replicated the texture.
(left: photo of Felix and Beek together at 6 days old - when will they ever meet again?) What I found was a secondhand blanket that felt exactly the same as said robe, and - bonus! - it had the satin edges coveted by so many little ones. Eureka! I'd used it when he was tiny, but we had so many baby blankets that it had ended up tucked away in a closet. It was like something out of a novel. (The first time they met, he barely noticed the blanket. A year later, he fell in love.) I started slipping the blanket between us when we snuggled. I left it in his crib when he slept, and I watched him fall in lovey.
A few months later, he developed the "Beek" moniker, though neither myself nor my husband can figure when. He initially called it "Dee," but then he changed it and never looked back.
It's been about a year now. A year of Beek. A year with a lovey. And I'm glad. My boy has his blanket. Perhaps someday, like Kevin Henkes' "Owen," he'll need it made into pocket squares, or I'll be fashioning it into a throw pillow for his dorm room bed. A Mom can dream.