Small 2 is not unusual in having a comforter. Many Smalls get their comfort from dummies, or pacifiers as they are known in the US. Others have a small soft toy or a rag or blanket, perhaps most famously Linus from the Peanuts cartoons.
Whatever form they take, comforters are great because they provide almost instant, well, comfort to both Small and, consequently, the parents. That is until they go missing. Then they are the worst thing in the world because Small CANNOT be comforted without his dopen.
I have lost count of the number of times our house has been frantically turned over, desperately searching for dopen. We tried having a duplicate dopen, exactly the same in every respect, for when dopen went missing. Clearly it was not exactly the same because it was never accepted.
We discovered that the important thing about dopen, as far as Small was concerned, was the label. Small wasn’t brand conscious; it was literally the label. He sucked on it. The label on the copy dopen was not the same, mainly because it had not been sucked almost to the point of disintegration. We could see a disaster looming: what would happen when the label did disintegrate?
On investigation it seemed Small was not alone in his taste for labels and one company had made a similar blanket that had tens of labels of all different materials and textures all around the edge of the blanket. This was purchased and rejected. We tried weathering the label on the duplicate dopen by a process of prolonged soaking and occasional rubbing. After days of work the result when dopen was substituted by sleight of hand was a moment’s hesitation, a puckered brow…and then rejection.
Fortunately Small 2 grew out of his dopen just before the label was completely sucked into oblivion. There was no lead out period to not wanting dopen. One night he cuddled on the blanket and champed on the label, the next he didn’t. And never did again. To sentimental parents this seemed very hard on dopen, his sleep buddy for so long, but to Small he just no longer needed it. Small had no emotional tie to dopen, other than it was something he wanted – and now didn’t.
In the same circumstances an adult would probably keep hold of dopen, firstly because it was something they had liked (sentiment), secondly in case they started to like it again (denial) and thirdly because it was still in good working order and it had cost money (guilt). This is why many adults have so much junk. Small had not developed sentiment, denial or guilt and happily crawled on to the next important thing in his life without looking back once.
The sudden rejection of once favourite things was displayed throughout Small’s development (see Fads) but as he developed emotionally the rejected items were more likely to be shoved in the back of the cupboard rather than the bin. In many respects I find it sad how quickly Small learnt to be a hoarder but perhaps I shouldn’t have moaned so much about the cost of all those things he was rejecting, seemingly on a whim. I have to remember that, to a large extent, Small learnt everything from me.
Not so much a parenting guide full of advice, more the reality of parenting kids and being a house husband and father, written by a stay at home dad to three children.
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