She had been cuddling with Blankie – a ratty, disintegrating old burp cloth – every night since she was about two years old.
For years, sleep was impossible without Blankie. And new adventures could not be tackled without Blankie being toted along. It may have been hidden in a backpack, tucked deep down in a pocket, but Blankie was always there.
Blankie has been to preschool, Cape Cod, Disney World, New York, New Hampshire, and even kindergarten. With Blankie, any new situation could be overcome and sleep was simple. Without Blankie? Well, we didn’t really want to know.
As Annie started getting jittery about going off to first grade, I was wondering if Blankie would stow away in her backpack on the first day of school.
But for the last few weeks, Annie had been complaining that Blankie was getting yucky.
Blankie wasn’t soft anymore. She couldn’t sleep with Blankie next to her face. And lately, every time she talked about Blankie, her complaints were tinged with a bit of Big Girl distaste.
“Mom,” Annie said to me with a wrinkled nose, “Blankie is really falling apart.” She held it out at arms’ length for me to examine. We were reading a new chapter book and cuddling in bed.
“Hmmm. Well, what do you want to do about it?”
Annie flopped back in bed. “I don’t know. I’m not sure.” She pondered this, then tucked Blankie into her stuffed animals. Away from her.
Then, two nights ago, Annie appeared in the hallway at bedtime with Blankie. “Dad,” she announced to Hubs. “Blankie is falling apart. I can’t cuddle with it anymore. I tried to let my animals sleep with it, but every night it gets smaller.”
She held Blankie up to Hubs to show him. Hubs looked at Annie, then Blankie, then back to Annie.
“So,” Hubs said, “Do you want mom and me to hang onto it?”
Annie nodded slowly.
“We could put it in a bag so it doesn’t fall apart more,” Hubs suggested.
Annie nodded more surely. “Yes. A pretty bag.” So Hubs took Blankie out of her hand and Annie strode off to her room.
Now Blankie sits on my dresser in a haphazard ball, waiting to be reclaimed by its rightful owner.
“Let’s keep it there for a while,” said Hubs. “You know, in case Annie decides she wants it back.”
But Annie hasn’t wanted Blankie back.
Now it’s the eve of first grade. Tomorrow Annie is going to hop on the bus, carrying first-day butterflies in her belly and fresh school supplies on her back, and merrily wave goodbye.
And I’m going to go home and tearily research how to preserve a Blankie. In a pretty bag.
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