Sunday, September 18, 2011

Reactive Attachment.

Tonight (Sunday) we realized that Cub left his sleepy toy, Nigh-Nigh the much-loved-and-mangled-and-hanging-on-by-a-thread-(literally)-Ecuadorian-lion, at my parents' house in Arkansas today. We realized it after we came home and it's safe to say we froze with panic.

Cub has slept with Nigh-Nigh since he was seven months old, when he received him as a gift from his grandparents. I casually tossed him in the crib with Cub's other stuffed animals and it was love at first sight. The two have never spent a sleepy-time apart. Until now.

Naturally, we were terrified.

We came up with several different options: Drive to AR to pick him up and get home way late? Meet halfway? Fly to Ecuador and try to find another street vendor selling alpaca wool lions?

Or ... just explain what happened and (gulp) hope for the best...?

I decided to just go ahead and tell him. I lightheartedly explained how Nigh-Nigh wanted to spend a few extra days at Memere's house, but he'd be back in a few days. That meant he got to bed with another friend instead! What about Squirt the Turtle? Or Bullseye the Horse? Caleb processed this and we chatted about it for a bit.

Bullseye was selected.

I tucked him in with Bullseye at bedtime and we sang our songs together. He murmured quietly, "Nigh-Nigh's at Memere's house." I stroked his hair and told him how excited Bullseye was to be his sleepy friend tonight.

Y'all, I was fighting back the tears. RIDICULOUS. We just all have really grown attached to Nigh-Nigh around here. I tried to imagine what it would be like to be a little kid, not even three years old, and the only toy, I mean the ONLY TOY that you've ever attached to is suddenly gone. It really broke my heart.

I kissed his head and closed the door. He came out a few minutes later and I winced for the worst. He needed to go potty. Oh. Okay. So, he pottied and went back to bed.

And ... that was it.

The little tyke is fast asleep, Bullseye tucked under his arm.

I'm kind of in disbelief. I didn't know how it would all go down but I at least expected a few tears. Nope. I'm just .... so, stinking proud of my big boy. He's being so brave.

So, this little experience presents us with a bit of a conundrum. Caleb sucks his thumb to self-soothe at sleepy times with Nigh-Nigh. He ONLY sucks his thumb when he has Nigh-Nigh. It's not just direct correlation here, folks: It's causation. One doesn't happen without the other.

While we sang our songs and he hugged Bullseye, I saw his thumb go towards his mouth several times, but he pulled it away. Bullseye just doesn't have that luxurious, flowing, nasty, saliva-stained lion's mane to which Cub has grown very attached. Without the mane to rub, the compulsion to suck his thumb isn't there.

So, eh, at what point should Nigh-Nigh take a permanent vacation? I mean, we wouldn't really ever get rid of him--that beloved lion should be bronzed ... just hidden for a while. But if he makes it through tonight sleeping fine without him ... and maybe if he makes it through tomorrow night just fine, too ... (who knows) ... then that means that thumb-sucking might take a permanent vacation, too. He'll be three in a few weeks and we're going to have to stop it at some point, right?

At what point did you take away your child's sleepy toy/paci/blankie/lamby/smooshy/felty/snuggly (if they had one at all)? This might be time for the transition, but we're just not sure.

Have a lovely day. :)


  1. No advice on cutting the ties with comfort items/habits (although Riggs is a thumb-sucker so we'll be crossing that bridge one of these days!), but just wanted to say GO CALEB for being such a big boy!

  2. Yay for Caleb! Having no children of my own yet, I don't have any advice, but would say that it's probably a good thing for him to not suck his thumb anymore. My mom told me (several times) that I sucked my thumb for YEARS, and my dentist believes it contributed to a lot of dental/orthodontic issues I had later on and continue to have to this day.

  3. So great of him!!!! I think a lot of times such transitions are way harder on us - or we think they're going to be harder than they really are (those little boogers bounce back so fast!). lincoln's never really had anything he was attached to...except his paci which is a ridiculous battle. He did get used to sleeping with his Tiger and - oops - we left it at his grandma's house too! And he was totally fine with it. So now i'm liking the whole idea of leaving the pacy at her house, too...hmmm...

  4. He's such a big boy. Way to go, Caleb! But...if he gets it back, eh well. I slept with my rag doll thing for years, and look how well-adjusted and totally normal I turned out to be... ;)

  5. I still have Daweena...(a.k.a. Thumbalina) in my closet...I don't rock her or anything crazy like that, but I can't get rid of her. Maybe Sissy will play with her when she's older and can show respect, lol!
    I'd say go with your gut! Good job Caleb!