My Nana used to sleep with St. Jude, the patron saint of Hopeless Cases. Nana had a tiny plastic statue of Jude the Apostle and he was with her always. As a child, I found this fascinating; I would ask her to dig him out of her purse, to unearth him from amongst the receipts, tubes of lipstick, lifesaver rolls, and the assorted packets of sugar, jelly, and ketchup which she pilfered while out and about. Once he was located and freed, she’d lovingly wipe him clean with one long finger. As she did so, I’d ask her to tell me about him, to recite his special prayer for the umpteenth time. She always acquiesced and I never tired of her retellings. When Nana stayed overnight at our house, she would sleep in my bed while I had a sleepover in my brothers’ room. In the morning, she’d call to me in her raspy Pal Mal voice, “Caitie!! Caitie, come down here and help me find St. Jude!” I’d rush to my bedroom, where I’d find Nana with a cup of steaming coffee in one hand and an ash-laden cigarette in the other. She’d wave the cigarette hand in the air, ash aglow and threatening, and gesture toward the bed. “He’s in there somewhere! I can’t find him.” She could never find him in the morning, and I was her helper. Together, we would fish around in the bedsheets until we found the little fellow. She’d visibly relax when his paint-chipped, worn little body was back in her palm. I used to be mystified by my Nana’s adoration of St. Jude; her need for him was almost child-like, perhaps due in part to the Alzheimer’s that would grow more pronounced with time. Today, however, I see that St. Jude was all about comfort. The Patron Saint of hopeless causes calmed her and brought her peace.
I’ve been re-reading The Giver this week. In the book, each newchild is presented with a comfort object- a stuffed animal or other lovey- to assist with sleeping. The child uses this comfort object until he or she reaches the age of eight, at which point the comfort object is passed on to another newchild during a special ceremony. The Giver’s comfort objects made me think of my Nana’s St. Jude, which was perhaps my first experience with a comfort object, for I don’t recall myself or my brothers having one (although my own memory for this could be muddled). Then, it made me think of my own childrens’ comfort objects, as they each have one.
Leo could climb out of his crib before he could walk. Our solution at the time was a crib tent, which has since been pulled off the market due to a recall. The tent was made of nylon and was attached to the rails of his crib and zipped to close, forming a roof of sorts and making escape more difficult. Leo loved his crib tent, so much so that when we transitioned him to a bed he revolted. He needed the “flap” of the tent in order to sleep; he required the silky piece of tent fabric that he had-over time- ripped away from the rails to sleep upon. We tried many strategies to get him to sleep in his big boy bed, including the purchase of an overpriced and extremely ugly twin bed tent. After many sleep deprived days or perhaps even weeks -it was all a blur I don’t even remember, we realized we needed to recreate the flap. We cut it off of the tent and brought it with us to the fabric store to find a similar fabric. Leo tested them all until he determined which fabric was the most flap-like and then I purchased several yards and cut them into squares. Sleep was restored, and he continues to sleep with Flap every night.
T was born a great sleeper and perhaps that is why she didn’t really need a comfort object. She had a brief stint of sleeping with a musical seahorse named Sherman, but she could also very easily sleep without him. She did, however, do this endearing little thing with her sleeve. She’d roll her sleeve over her knuckles and then hold her closed fist to her nose. It was her tell, if you will, a subtle message that sleep was needed. We ran into an issue one summer when we were staying with another family due to construction at our house. It was hot, and short-sleeved T had no sleeve to roll over her knuckles. For the first time in her short life, T resisted sleep. My friend suggested I use one of T’s old baby legs- essentially legwarmers for babies- as a stand-in sleeve. It worked and T continues to sleep with Sleeve on her right arm every single night. My guess is she could sleep without it, but her brothers are comfort object dependent and so I think she feels it is the thing to do around here.
Seuss was the only child I tried to push a lovey upon, because while he was born fantastically happy, he was only fantastically happy when attached to me, preferably while also nursing. Someone had gifted us a monkey lovey early on and I took advantage of an Amazon sale and purchased a few extra. I needed the extras because Seuss used to be known as “Sir Spits-a-Lot” due to the fact that he projectile vomited everywhere, all day long. I would tuck one monkey close to Seuss and wear the next-up monkey against my skin. Somehow, over time, he started to fall asleep with the monkey lovey in his mouth… until he vomited. At that point, I’d change it out for the next one. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. It’s no wonder the monkey is called Stinkey Monkey. Friends actually purchased additional monkeys for us, because my initial purchase of extras was not enough to keep us in less-offensive-Stinky-Monkeys. Seuss continues to sleep with Stinky Monkey in his mouth every night. He will approach Schizz and I some nights and ask, “Can I have a new Monkey? This one is too stinky!”
So, all this thinking about comfort objects has me wondering…What about you guys? What do your children sleep with? What do you still sleep with? After all, this isn’t The Giver. You don’t have to give away your comfort object at the age of eight! Share here!
There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort.
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