My oldest daughter was a 'binkie" girl. My young mother mind worried many hours over how I was going to wean her from it and eventually she "lost" it. She really did lose and I just didn't make any effort to find it. When it did show up I carefully concealed it in a drawer to keep for posterity. Most of my children haven't used anything except their fingers or thumbs and I am keeping those for sure ... but not in a drawer, don't worry.
Enter "Lou" (obviously not her real name and chosen, not for how it sounds alone but because we usually tag it onto the end of her real name and then it is cute) child number four of six. There is technically no middle child in an even number, but if anyone has middle child syndrome it's her. She was a baby when Mom was at her craziest, a wild toddler when Mom was at her most depressed, she doesn't accomplish any firsts and she's grown out of the cute pre-school age. She didn't use a binkie, didn't use her thumb or two middle fingers, instead she found the love of a true friend in a life-sized Pooh.
The older kids were given a couple of these Christmas Pooh's complete with scarf, Santa hat and, of course, the iconic little red Pooh shirt. When Lou was about 15 months she discovered her love of Pooh. She wouldn't fall asleep without him. Pooh was easily twice as big as she was and as she got older she would fall asleep on her back with her arms wrapped around this Pooh and wake up in pain because her hands were asleep. Pooh became more important to her than food (I may be exaggerating here a bit but not by much). Pooh became so filthy that I could not count myself any sort of a decent mother unless I snuck Pooh while she was otherwise occupied and washed his poor yellow Pooh fur. Every time I did that it was a complete catastrophe. "His ears don't feel good anymore!" she would wail. I'd reply, "what's different... they're softer? Cleaner?" "They just don't FEEL right!." Eventually, though, Pooh's ears would get back that knobby gritty feeling again and she would be content.
I came to despise Pooh - Lou could not fall asleep anywhere without Pooh which caused many a public tantrum but also this Pooh represented my inadequate mothering for Lou. I knew that eventually Pooh had to leave. It's one thing to be attached to a little bear but a 2 1/2 foot tall one? They don't stuff into your purse very well. Well, one day my "Rage Monster" had a confrontation with Pooh and his ears were removed with a pair of scissors. Poor Lou was beside herself and when my fire had died down, I felt worse than scum. I called my husband sobbing. Lou was crying, I was crying and poor Pooh couldn't hear a thing.
We happened to have a small blankie that came with a Pooh Bear newborn gift set (my new baby was only weeks old, which could explain the "Rage Monster's" visit) and I was inspired to take those ears and resurrect them onto this little two-foot-square "Pooh Bear Blanket" and thus is was dubbed. As it turned out the ears were not just her favorite part but the only part she needed to get her Pooh fix. Another year or so and that "Pooh Bear Blanket" got so much love that I was afraid to wash it anymore.
Poor dear got loved absolutely to death. She started carrying him around with her fingers crammed into his pie hole.
The final chapter of the story of softie evolution (so far, she's only 7 after all) is that the day before her birthday her big sister came to me and asked if she could give Lou this bear she's been saving for her. She was so excited because she'd been collecting bear clothes and accessories for this bear. I didn't understand why she was asking. I said, "of course! Why are you even asking?" Famous last words. Had only a few months softie-free erased the pain of years? Who knows? But it wasn't until the evening after Lou's birthday party that I walked past her reading on the couch and realized what I'd done. You don't need bear clothes and accessories to fulfill this need.