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The Fifth Member Of Our Family

Photo courtesy of Maggie Cheung

Jack likes to keep his BFF under his arm these days. His name is Jerry. He's three. He likes to read books, go to preschool and sleep over at Grandma's house. Wherever Jack is, there's Jerry too.

When Jack was eensy weensy and I was still going to twelve different new moms groups and honing my new mom paranoia, I remember some talk about "loveys". (And I'll just say right now, I hate that word. It's right up there with "panties". SHUDDER.) SO ANYWAY. Some of the moms had bought cute little stuffed animals they kept in their babies' cribs and car seats, some of the moms always made sure to use the same blanket. Apparently this was supposed to establish some sense of security or sameness or calm - who knows?! I just remember feeling bad because I didn't feel like we HAD an appropriate stuffed animal or blanket (meaning either 1) I didn't like any of the ones we had or 2) I couldn't decide which ones to use) and therefore my kids were horribly insecure. Oh new moms and their new moms groups! But neither of my kids ever gravitated towards a certain toy when they were tiny. Even later on, at Christmastime or birthdays, people would talk about certain kinds of toys their kids were just DYING to have, while I'd look at mine and think... "Well, he sure likes paper! And, uh, markers?"

The Christmas after Molly was born, my sister-in-law gave the kids the bear and bunny from the Pottery Barn Kids organic stuffed animal line. Cute! I thought. How nice! And promptly stashed them with all the other stuffed animals my kids didn't play with. Not that I didn't TRY to get them to play with stuffed animals because, hey, those things are adorable. But no, they weren't interested. 

But they both latched onto blankets, probably when each kid was about a year old (at least that's how I remember it.) Jack, of course, picked my least favorite blanket while Molly picked the 'right' one. We brought the blankets every time we'd be in the car longer than an hour, forgetting them when we went to Grandma's house was a horror you'd never wish upon anyone, and I couldn't (can't!) wash them fast enough. It was nice, though. My kids were Developing Properly, having attached themselves to blankets. I could check that off the list. 

Then, for some reason, Jack started carting this teddy bear around. At first he just seemed to be the bear Jack liked to keep on his bed. Then I noticed the bear under the covers in the mornings. One day I asked, "Does your bear have a name?" And Jack said, oh so proudly, "JERRY."

I gaped at him. Jerry. Where did THAT come from? (He wanted to name one of Molly's babies Sally. I think he is stuck in a 1950s TV show.)

Slowly Jerry began to get himself a life. He became a frequent guest at Jack's many living room picnics. He was pushed around in Molly's strollers. He sat with Jack and Molly while they watched TV shows and was sad when he didn't get to take a bath. The other night Jack had a bloody nose and just the tiniest corner of Jerry was dirty. "Jerry's going to have his OWN bath now," I said, punting him into the washing machine. Jack was Rather Worried and asked for him for HOURS. 

But lately Jerry's been making his presence known even more. He eats breakfast with us, he's been to preschool for Teddy Bear Picnic Day, he listens to bedtime stories, he has particular likes and dislikes, and one time it was JERRY who threw a toy car at Molly, not Jack. FANCY THAT. 

So far Molly doesn't seem to be attached to any one of her toys, though she does have a strong affinity for her five different baby dolls: Big Baby, Squishy Baby, Baby Mollymoo, Purple Baby, and Diaper Baby. (Molly's naming techniques are a bit primitive compared to Jack's.) Then again, I don't think Jerry really became the fifth member of our family until maybe a year-ish ago, and not such a frequent participant in daily life until the last several months. Again, I have no idea whether this is typical and am no longer participating in moms groups to tell me whether it is or not. I shall have to depend on all of you to share your own Attachment Stories so I can compare (or giggle or fawn-over or sweetly sniff as the case may be!)