We were at a family gathering on Saturday night and there was a five year old boy there with his favourite bear. ‘Bear’ (this was his name) was a pale blue velvet head, about the size of a Satsuma (no remaining facial features) with a floppy unstuffed body, one arm, one full leg and a half amputated one (the result of an accident on a Halogen cooker top!). And yet, to this child, Bear was the best thing since sliced bread - his friend. His mum told me he couldn’t sleep without him and, if it was time for Bear’s wash in the machine, her son would sit and watch the cycle until his buddy emerged free from chocolate, ice-cream and snot.
We got talking about kids and their comforters. Her sister (at 30) still has a silk cuff from a blouse she wore as a child. An old friend (at 36) still has manky bits of an old satin dressing gown that her grandparents bought her when she was five. Everyone in the family knows it as ‘Silky.’ My son (15) still checks shirts for ‘nice labels’ and he’ll often offer me a feel of a ‘particularly good one!’
His best ‘friend’ was picked up at a car boot for 50p. At about 18 months he was obsessed with ‘Pingu’ so, when he spied a felt penguin with enormous white teeth sitting on a trestle table amongst the junk, he knew he had to have him. ‘Teeth’ (the obvious name) came home with us, had a quick wash and brush up in the washing machine and from then on went everywhere with our son.
On a trip to Australia, son was not happy to see Teeth disappear through the scanner at the airport. He was too young to realise that the stuffing provided the ideal storage space for drug trafficking. Thankfully Teeth came out of it with a clean record and no internal search was necessary.
The most obvious place for Teeth to tag-along was on son’s twice yearly dental checks. Son and Teeth would always be met with a smile and a giggle from the dentist and the nurse and then settle in the chair for investigations. However, when I bumped into the dental nurse at a place we wouldn’t usually expect to meet, she looked at me, brain whirring to try to come up with a name, and simply said “Teeth!” as she burst out laughing!
So concerned were we that we might lose Teeth and have a distraught child on our hands that, when hubbie spotted a tramp with an exact replica of the stuffed toy tied to a lamp-post for decoration, he asked his price. For the cost of a few cups of coffee we had a twin. One resewn floppy arm (flipper?) and a boil wash later, ‘Gums’ joined Teeth!
Our son also had a friend whose parents were so concerned that he might lose his bear (let’s call him Arthur) that they stocked up on a ‘box-full of Arthurs’ in case of emergencies. Clever thinking!
My best friend’s son has two favourites. A fur collar from granny’s old coat called Puss-Puss and a manky bear in insipid beige, pink and white (as gutless and flattened as you can imagine) called Neapolitan (after the ice cream). If Puss-Puss or Neapolitan aren’t around, no one sleeps!
Now I have to come clean about my ‘comforter’. I was a thumb sucker. My sister did second and fourth fingers, but for me the thumb was the digit of choice. Along with this habit, I had a … wait for it … gollywog. I know people have an issue with these but, believe me; no gollywog has ever been loved more. He’s had to have his jolly little face replaced about five times - too much ‘good lovin'’ - and he has very little afro left now he’s approaching 50, but he still looks gorgeous to me.
Go on, shoot me down but I love that golly and I don’t see how that can be a bad thing. I understand that the name may not be so appropriate in this day and age but this was obviously something I never considered when I was a youngster. All I knew was that he was always there for me and he listened to all my troubles.
Might have a bit of a chat with him tonight, in fact.
So what was your comforter? Or what do you dread your kids losing? Have you ever driven miles to get Binky or Bobo, (or a stinking piece of fabric) just for a peaceful night’s sleep?
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