My oldest daughter discovered a little yellow duck lovey somewhere around five months old. She carried that thing around with her for months – mostly in her mouth like a dog. Wherever Kate was, her ‘Silly Duck’ was ever close by.
Her love of this teeny stuffed toy caused us a great deal of distress every once in a while; we only had the one Silly Duck, and our search for a second proved futile. Misplacing him was cause for panic, so we were mostly ok with it when she finally got too busy for him around 14 months old and more or less weaned herself from him. Into her memory box he went – a safe, accessible place for that beloved duck in the event that she might ask for him again.
It wasn’t long, however, until she set her eyes upon a soft purple lovey with a monkey head that had been in the bottom of her toy basket since birth. This monkey (who soon went by the name of ‘George’) quickly became even more loved than that silly yellow duck – something we didn’t think possible. To the point that George even had his own theme song and dance that had to be performed many, many times a day.
She couldn’t go to sleep without George. She couldn’t ride in the car without George. She couldn’t eat dinner or take a walk or get dressed or do basically anything if George wasn’t with her. After misplacing (and finding!) George several times over, and realizing that her love of him would probably not waver; we decided to scour the Internet for a second George.
It took us a little while to find the second George and we had to pay $20 for a scrap of purple fabric with a head, but the look on her face when she realized that she had two monkeys to love on was well worth the expense. Also: having a back-up in case the first George went missing was well worth our sanity.
Now, two Georges were constantly with her – always tucked under her arm on the go or softly rubbing her cheek as she fell asleep, she was never seen without them. Her love for these monkeys had kind of cemented her status as a baby. Even as she grew into less of a baby and more of a little girl, as long as she had the two Georges riding shotgun, she was a baby.
Then, sometime before her fourth birthday, she stuck one George in my work bag so that I could have one at my office in case I felt sad. This sweet gesture, meant to cheer me up during a rough time, broke my heart a little. By letting go of a George, she seemed to be letting go of a little bit of her babyhood.
After that, she started to frequently leave the house without either of her Georges. He wasn’t needed for bedtime anymore. She didn’t panic if he was left at home on a trip to the park or the store. A lovey, it seemed, just wasn’t in her cards anymore. She was a newly-minted four-year-old with a lot to do and learn, and she was ready to jump into it all head, feet, and hands free.
While she’s all but forgotten about the Georges these days, I have not. Safely tucked away during our big move earlier this year, I recently dug them out again for my newest baby in the hopes that she’ll slow down her bid to keep up with big sister and stay in her babyhood just a little bit longer.