My 5-year-old has a "Blankie." "He" is green. He is worn through. In another life, he was a washcloth. He has a very distinctive smell.
Mimi Schmir: You or I might not like this smell -- in fact, we might call it more of an "odor," but to my 5-year-old, it is The Best Smell Ever.
This has been going on for a while. We didn't start out with Blankie. He showed up a year or two ago. Out of nowhere, really. We refer to "him" as "Blankie," instead of "Fred," or "Sam." But he might as well be a Fred because he has all the personality of an actual person. Blankie gets sad. Blankie gets lost (and after panicked insanity, found). Blankie takes a bath.
Actually, Blankie only takes a bath in the middle of the night when I (or husband roused from coma) wrestle him out of sleeping 5-year-old's hands, wash him, dry him, then stick him back under the smelliest part of said 5-year-old's body. "Make sure he's going to stink," I say, with just a tinge of hysteria.
Because a 5-year-old will know if Blankie is washed. He will call us on it. He will scream and cry and ask if someone gave Blankie a bath. And we, rational, well-adjusted, ALWAYS ON TOP OF THINGS, will lie. Through our teeth. Because we are excellent parents. We watch the news. We know about germs. Oink.
For the sake of modesty, we will call said 5-year-old "H." Of course, when "H" reads this someday, when he's sitting in his college dorm room with a case of beer (God help me) and his inebriated friends, when he decides (or more likely, his hairy friend Stewart decides) to Google his mother just for the "Come on, Dude" (will they even say "Dude" then?) hell of it, the point is, "H," of course, will know who he is.
He has blond curls. He melts hearts. Girls (and women) love him. One day, a little 4-year-old friend of his takes down her underpants and sits on his face (her idea, not his. He is duly embarrassed. We, coma husband and I, are out of town and are thus blameless). He has a wicked temper and a fearless nature and the pediatrician calls him "Goniff," which means troublemaker in Yiddish.
And when school starts in September, he brings Blankie to class.
They are very understanding. It is a progressive school. They believe in letting the child find their own way. Eventually, we all end up at the same place, it is just how we get there. It is the journey. He has now progressed through almost two months of kindergarten and we are all adjusting. Blankie is adjusting too. For the first week or so, he stays in class. He goes to all public gatherings. I suspect he goes to P.E., either hidden in a pocket or stuffed down the front of H's pants.
One morning, H's teacher makes a suggestion. Blankie should sit in H's cubby and wait for him.
Separation is tough. The first few days of this involve a lot of crying and renting of garments (mine) and concerned looks from other parents. Once in a while, I get an e-mail or a phone call from another dad or mom. "I was coming out of the library and I saw him run over to his cubby and pick it up." "You mean, Blankie?" I say. "Yes, and he stuck his nose in it and took a giant whiff. Don't worry, he seems okay."
I am not worried. I know that he and Blankie are working it out.
I ask him, though. I say, "H, how are things going up there? I heard you leave Blankie in the cubby now?"
He says, "Yes. It is very hard. But I can come out and visit if I need to."
I say, "Does that make you feel better? Knowing that he's still there?" (I think maybe he has separation issues. I know I do. I try to think about the journey. P.S. Just once, could the journey end in Paris?).
He looks at me, like I am the stupidest person ever on planet Parent. "MOM," he says, as though this is the most obvious thing in the world, "I want to smell him."
I realize as he says this that I have my face buried in his curls. They need to be washed.
Okay. Point taken.
|Mimi Schmir is a television writer and producer. Her "Hot Flashes" blog, originally written during the 2007 Writer's Strike, is being adapted as a novel for Penguin/Putnam and she is currently developing "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown" for television. She lives in Los Angeles with her Writer-Producer husband and their two young boys, the youngest of whom just started kindergarten. She fantasizes about sleeping.|