John Rosemond, one of my favourite common-sense/traditional parenting voices, talked a lot about “transition objects” in The Six-Point Plan for Raising Happy, Healthy Children. It’s been quite a while since I read the book (once when I was pregnant with Brendan, once after he was born), but I remember distinctly deciding to NOT freak out about transition objects like blankets, pacifiers, or teddy bears. And I stuck to my guns – I never once freaked out.
I’m really glad I didn’t, and if my determination to not freak out is being tested, then I’ve got another chance to keep my cool. Brendan is dealing with an enormous change – bigger than the change when we moved from Kentucky to Michigan. This change has rocked his world – at least in Michigan, we had relatives there and friends close by. We bought a house and settled in relatively quickly there – but now, we’ve moved to a part of the nation where we know virtually no one. As in “we have a friend whom we met online and he helped us unpack the moving truck with another two guys”-no one. We’re renting an apartment in the middle of a city and are surrounded by concrete – not the cornfields and rural roads we knew in Michigan. Brendan left friends and family behind when we moved out here, and he’s searching for things that were comforting the last time we had a major transition, 3.5 yrs ago.
And so we’re dealing with baby talk in small doses, and his blankets have been front-and-center for a few weeks. And Heywood, his favourite bear, goes with us nearly everywhere. I don’t mind any of these things, if they help him through the transition. Which is exactly what Dr. Rosemond suggests – that these objects will fall by the wayside once the transitional time is over and the child has developed a new set of skills to cope with the new situation or environment.
So I’m trying really hard not to freak out. Really hard. And I get to hold Heywood when we go to the movies and wash Sampson, his stuffed beanie-dog. It’s endearing to me, and even though I want Brendan to be comfortable here, I also know that when he outgrows Heywood, Sampson, and the blankets, there will be a sense of sadness for me. But life moves on and because he has found so much joy and comfort with these things, I think I will shed a tear or two when we pack them away and I save them for my grandchildren. Which (naturally) reminds me that if you haven’t seen Toy Story 3 yet, you should – and take a pack of tissues with you – for the very reason I just mentioned.
So I’m putting all my eggs in Dr. Rosemond’s basket and hoping he’s right – that the patterns of transition that we’ve already seen in Brendan’s short life will continue at a natural, healthy pace and that his transition objects will help him with that pattern in the midst of change.