Lions and monkeys and turtles, oh my!

For the past two weeks, Carlton has been without his favorite sleep-aid: Lion.

This now raggedy stuffed animal with the roaring voice box that hasn’t worked in several years has been his constant sleeping companion for the better part of five years. But two weeks ago, a weekend with the grandparents was so much fun that Lion opted for an extended visit.

Carlton hangs on to Lion and his apple juice before his first plane ride back in June 2012.

Carlton hangs on to Lion and his apple juice before his first plane ride back in June 2012.

On the first night without Lion there were tears. It hasn’t been easy for Carlton to adjust to life without Lion, and some nights he has begged us to call Nanny to have her mail it to us. He even tried earlier this week to persuade Carla to drive to Sandersville on Friday just to get Lion. Overall I’d say this has been an important weaning process and not nearly as painful as we first imagined.

Carlton is not unlike his brothers in his attachment to a stuffed animal. Barron has his Yee-hi. This furry monkey was given to him by our Macon friends, Cass and Ruth DuCharme. For a while it appeared that Barron would succumb to the old cliché and take Yee-hi to college, but he gave him up before elementary.

Harris was the least attached to a stuffed animal. One year our school had a donated stuffed animal adoption at Winter Fest. Harris was somewhere around 3 at the time. He fell in love with a cuddly turtle that he promptly named “Swimmy.” I know, turtles aren’t known for being especially cuddly, and Swimmy must not have been either because he was relegated to the stuffed animal box in less than a year.

Swimmy was also impractical because he was kind of big. It’s hard carrying around a 150-year-old giant sea turtle. OK, that may be a slight exaggeration, but he was about half as big as Harris was at the time.

All of this adjusting to not having a figurative security blanket reminded me of my own, literal security blanket. I carried around a very masculine, Winnie-the-Pooh sleeping bag long past any age when it was appropriate, probably 17 or 18. Again, I jest. Maybe 6 or 7. In any case, I really liked this blanket. I would drag it into the den and lay on it while watching cartoons.

Back then, it was good to be close to the TV so you could turn the channel. Yeah, I’m old.

Truth be told, I feel like his “lovies” are harmless. It’s OK for children to have items they cling to a little bit for comfort. I’m no child psychologist, but as long as they give them up before middle school, it’s not something I get worked up about.

What I do wonder about is what we replace them with. Do we really ever give up our Lions and Yee-his and Swimmys? Do we just latch on to something else for security? Do we become emotionally mature or do we just switch to our iDevice, a piece of jewelry or fashion accessory? Where does our sense of comfort and security come from as we age?

Lion has been there for some of the best naps and longest car rides.

Lion has been there for some of the best naps and longest car rides.

Carlton turned five this week. We are nearing the end of the stuffed animal stage altogether. I guess it’s time to find that box where Yee-hi and Swimmy hang out. It won’t be long before Lion joins them in retirement.

What was your childhood security blanket or lovie? Do your children have them? Does it concern you that your children are so attached to their stuffed animals? Leave a comment and tell us your story of your beloved animal and reconnect with that sense of comfort and safety. You’ll feel good all over again, I promise.

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About lanceelliottwallace

Lance Elliott Wallace lives and writes in the Atlanta suburb of Lilburn. A native of Texas and a former resident of Florida and Alabama, Lance married a Georgia girl and together they are rearing three Georgia boys. By day he communicates for Georgia Tech engineers and scientists. He spends his early morning hours praying, writing and running.
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4 Responses to Lions and monkeys and turtles, oh my!

  1. Sharon Wallace says:

    Yes, I thought your Winnie the Pooh comforter was going to college with you. We probably still have it in case you need it. We still have Lee’s mangy teddybear.

  2. Suzanne Simmons says:

    Lance, I was Barron’s preschool teacher at SRBK and I think I met Yee-hi! I remember several stuffed animals and a doll that I had, and I am sure she is somewhere in the attic in a box. My son, however, who is now 23 and a GA Tech grad, has 2 blankets that he DID take to college and they STILL come in his backpack when he comes “home” for a sleepover. I worried at first, but now it is just really amusing. I suppose they will be put some place when he decides to get a girlfriend… which right now he does not care to do, as “girls are way too much work and cost too much”.

  3. Anna Knippel says:

    I still have one transitional object – Smoothie, a piece of a shirt I appropriated from my dad when I was a toddler. I actually think I took the whole shirt, but now there’s only one large piece and a few scraggly pieces left. I still carry Smoothie around with me sometimes if things might be particularly stressful. And I don’t worry about what my significant other thinks – it’s good for me and that’s good for the both of us 🙂

  4. Rachel S. says:

    Like you, Lance, I had a blanket. We called it “mankey.” I used to smooth it out on the floor and watch cartoons too! I didn’t take it everywhere, though, because it was kind of big. Mankey is now safely tucked away in a drawer at my parents’ house.

    That part about the “lovies”-I can hear Carlton saying, “Miss Rachel, can I have a new wovie?” He had to direct me to where the clean lovies are stocked in his room.

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