They love the loveys, don't they? I think a lovey is a wonderful thing - built in comfort and security, easing of transitions, something to tell their troubles too. I encouraged Pumpkinpie's attachment to her loveys, and even bought duplicates in case of loss. Let's face it, loveys are as good for the parent as they are for the child for quite some time.
But then comes trouble. Maybe the lovey gets lost - what to do? Or maybe that sweet toddler gets a little older, and the time has come that you think maybe they should get ready to at least leave the lovey at home, if not detach themselves from the now-worn and grubby object altogether. Or maybe you think the lovey is fine at home, but your now-older child starts wondering if his friends will think it's babyish. It can be an emotional tug-of-war, figuring out how to handle this stuff, how to walk a line between encouraging your child towards growing, respecting their lovey love, soothing fears or sorrow, and figuring out what you think is acceptable in what circumstances.
Of course, as always, I like to share a story about another child and their lovey troubles. Here is a nice little sampling.
Owen, by Kevin Henkes
Owen loved his blankie. It went wherever Owen went. They played together, slept together, and ate together. But the neighbour started to point out that Owen was getting older and ready for school. What to do about the blankie? None of her suggestions turn out very well, nor do they turn Owen off his blankie. It's Owens' mother, who finally finds a way to make blankie into something more acceptable to tote around with him. This story is, of cuorse, cute and funny and rings true, and it also shows a compromise - a way to accept Owen's attachment, but repackage it for his move into the realm of older kids.
No More Blanket for Lambkin!, by Bernette Ford, ill. Sam Williams
Lambkin's friend ever-so-gently, yet firmly, takes lambkin's dirty, much-loved blanket, and plays laundry with it. Once it dries, it is found to be riddled with small holes, so the friend takes it, ties a ribbon and a couple of knots, and transforms the blanket from a tattered cover to a sweet lambie doll much better suited to playing. Not a total removal, but this story gives another option - make it into something else. A pillow, framed art background, stuffed toy? A nice way for a blanket to end up.
Ira Sleeps Over, by Bernard Waber
Ira is a big kid - big enough for a lseepover with his friend Reggie. But Ira still sleeps with his bear. He agonizes over whether to take it or not - will Reggie laugh and call him a baby? His sister thinks so, his parents don't. Turns out in the end, he's not alone in still clinging to an old favourite while trying to pass himself off a more grown up than he might feel sometimes. This story is reassuring to kids who wonder if they are the only one who still like some of the remnanats of early childhood - they are not alone, no matter what the other kids like to pretend. It can do a person good to know that other people worry about this stuff, too. This is a classic - and one of my childhood favourites, too.
Dogger, by Shirley Hughes
Dave's big sister sleeps with lots of stuffed animals, but not Dave. He only loves Dogger. So when Dogger gets lost, then found, then bought by mistake off a rummage sale table, Dave is beside himself. What would he do without Dogger? Luckily, Dave's sister understands, and trades her lovely, newly-won bear to get Dogger back. This book is filled with the love of the young boy, the panic and despair of missing his lovey, and the heartwarming action of his sister. Hughes' trademark details and warm colours bring the whole thing to life perfectly. Just lovely.
Find these and other tales of growing up at your local public library!
Originally posted on MommyBlogsToronto/Better Than a Playdate.