When the Tiniest Minion of Sauron was born, we surrounded him with a bunch of the stuff you’re supposed to use to surround babies … spatially relative toys, soothing music, a small army of nannies who were under strict instructions to wake me up once the child reached college age.
And, of course, blankets. We purchased, or were given, enough blankets so that the Minion could sleep under a different one every night of the week, assuming the week had 18 days in it.
Blankets with Winnie-the-Pooh. Blankets with little ducks. Blankets that had different textures and sound-making apparatus woven into them. (“Feel this, Minion? That’s the way an empty wallet feels. Hear this sound, Minion? That’s the sound of a desperate man self-medicating with a pint of Jim Beam after one of your week-long bouts of waking up at midnight to play for four hours.”)
But despite this plethora of choices, my youngest son decided that the one bestest, wonderfullest, absolutely cannot-live-without blankie he must have at all times … was this ratty old pink blanket that had belonged to my wife when she was a baby.
My wife, the lovely and talented Aries28, was in equal parts touched and horrified. Touched, because this blanket had been a part of her babyhood. Horrified, because although my wife is not old by any stretch, the blanket had definitely not aged as well as she had. It was frayed at the edges, and had a couple of small holes in it where the cotton batting was coming out. I think we put it into Minion’s crib as a joke one day, when he was a few weeks old, but he latched on to it.
From then on, whenever the Minion was upset, a quick cuddle with Pink Blankie was usually enough to calm him down. Pink Blankie was a constant companion in the crib, or the car seat, or the playpen, or wherever the Minion was.
We had a couple of bumps along the way. When my father, who is a wonderful man, first saw the Minion with Pink Blankie, he looked at me.
“That blankie’s pink.”
“You okay with that?”
“Okay, then. But don’t complain if he grows up to be one of those.”
We were not particularly thrilled when the Minion began going to daycare. By then, Pink Blankie was firmly, irrevocably ensconced as the Blanket of Choice. And it was also the least appealing, from a looks-like-it’s-been-chewed-by-wolves-and-used-as-bedding-for-their-den perspective. We worried briefly what the workers at daycare would think of us as parents. “Look at those people,” they would whisper. “They look nice, but they let their child play with a piece of cloth they picked up off the side of the road.”
But they didn’t understand the power of Pink Blankie. When the Tiniest Minion had trouble falling asleep, Pink Blankie could soothe him and let him relax. When the Tiniest Minion had tubes put in his ears, Pink Blankie comforted him through the pain. When the Tiniest Minion was scared (at the doctor’s office, or during a storm, or when fireworks startled him), Pink Blankie was there for him. Always soft, always comforting, always willing to make things better.
And oh, the price Pink Blankie paid. It wasn’t in great shape to start with, and the constant demands placed on it by the Tiniest Minion literally began to wear it out. It was stitched up multiple times, until it became obvious that the stitches were just pulling the threadbare fabric apart even worse. Large chunks of cotton batting would fall out of the holes that continued to grow in its surface. The Tiniest Minion, who wasn’t much for hygiene in his younger days, would cheerfully wiggle out of his diaper and tinkle on Pink Blankie in a fit of glee. It was dragged constantly … through the house, through the yard, anywhere the Tiniest Minion could crawl, or toddle, or walk, or run. It was balled up, every night, and used as a chest/stomach pillow by the Tiniest Minion while he slept.
It must have been excruciating at times. Sheer torture. But Pink Blankie never complained, never shirked its duty, never refused to comfort and soothe and generally protect my son from the heartaches and problems of the young. It would bravely allow itself to be washed and dried, knowing that every time it did a few more seams would pop, a few more threads would unravel, a little bit more of itself would be gone. But it always bounced back, almost leaping into my son’s outstretched arms the moment the dryer stopped, happy to be of service, happy to be back with its friend and constant companion. Always there. Always cheerfully accepting its role, regardless of the damage it would have to endure.
Until a few days ago.
When I picked up the Tiniest Minion from daycare that Friday, I forgot to get Pink Blankie. Sheer stupidity on my part … I just didn’t check his box when I got his other stuff.
The Minion was going to my in-laws’ house to spend the night. By the time I realized we didn’t have Pink Blankie with us, it was too late … the daycare center had closed. I told my in-laws what had happened, and Aries28 suggested that the Minion stay with us. We didn’t think he’d sleep a wink without Pink Blankie, and we didn’t want her parents to have to deal with him. They insisted on keeping him, though, so we acquiesced.
And the Tiniest Minion did fine. Didn’t ask about Pink Blankie once.
Saturday night, we worried that once he was back in his own bed, the familiar surroundings would make him want Pink Blankie. So we braced ourselves for that.
But nothing happened.
That next Monday, when I picked the Tiniest Minion up from daycare, I got Pink Blankie. I was careful not to let him see Pink Blankie; I figured if he was ready to give it up, that was okay by me. Get rid of the ratty, bedraggled thing.
It’s been fine. The Minion has asked about Pink Blankie once or twice since then, but we’ve said “I’m not sure where it is right now” and he’s toddled along happily without it.
Yesterday, when the Minion was playing elsewhere, I put Pink Blankie high on a shelf in his closet, out of sight. I was surprised at the pang I felt when I did that. Pink Blankie didn’t whimper, or sulk, or even act surprised. After all, it’s only a stupid pink blanket. With some of the cotton batting gone. And popped seams from where my son pulled it on all his baby and toddler adventures. And holes from where my son held it close, feeling its comfort, giving it love.
After I put him to bed last night, I watched him sleep for a little while. He doesn’t fall asleep in a ball any more, propped on his knees and his face like a chiropractor’s favorite patient. He sleeps on his back, or sometimes his side. He doesn’t feel the hole anymore that used to be filled by Pink Blankie while he slept. Or while he played. Or while he watched cartoons. Or while he rocked with his dad.
But his dad sure does.
That’s not my baby any more, or even my toddler, laying in that bed. That’s my son. He’s moving on, growing up, not needing comfort from some stupid pink blanket.
Farewell, Pink Blankie.