In the early days, when Seabass was an infant hell bent on systematically whittling my endurance down to a quivering nub, I would have done anything to get him hooked on a “lovey.” Unfamiliar with lovies? Think Linus and his blanket. Or Maggie and her pacifier. Basically any tangible item that makes a child feel comforted and secure, other than MOM or BOOB.
While BabySleepSite.com suggests that a lovey “should ideally not be larger than [a baby’s] head nor have things that can fall off that he can choke on,” I was so desperate to calm our colicky Seabass down that I would have given him a chef’s knife if it might’ve helped. When it came to settling him down, no suggestion went untried, from stroking his eyebrows (while he screamed) to dancing with him to Björk (while he screamed) to squirting breastmilk in his face (straight from the tap, I might add…while he screamed).
Little did we know that the source of Seabass’ comfort would come in the form of a circular blanket that my mom knitted – a coccoon, if you will. (For all you wild and crazy knitters out there, here’s a link to the pattern.) It all started when he started busting out of his swaddle blanket. Afraid that he would get cold while he slept unswaddled, we used the coccoon from my mom to keep him warm. Think of it as a baby sleeping bag. Or a big blue sock. Or a Rastafarian beanie in which lengthy dredlocks make their home.
We used the coccoon consistently through last winter and into the spring, though eventually it became too small for wearing and was instead used for clutching. Pretty soon we noticed that Seabass had formed a real attachment to the coccoon, trailing it behind him as he tromped around the house, in the backyard, wherever. It was getting harder to wash because whenever I had time to chuck it in the washing machine, it was more than likely being snuggled during a nap. Thus, a distinctive “aroma” has settled on the coccoon – one that is specific to Seabass’ needs in moments of uncertainty, exhaustion, or plain old fashioned fussiness. I know this because he often takes deep hits off of it, smothering his face with what is becoming a ratty – and gamey – oversized sock.
Growing up, I never had a lovey, but I sucked the first and second fingers on my right hand until I was old enough to know better. (Truth be told, I sometimes sniff those knuckles if I can’t fall asleep. Don’t tell Jake.) While it’s sometimes a nuisance to pick dead leaves, burrs, and God-knows-what-else out of Seabass’ coccoon after he wanders in with it from outside, I know what it is to be comforted by something as simple as a blanket. Much as I may mock the smell wafting off his coccoon, it probably smells a lot like me: It squishes between us as I rock my little boy to sleep each night and as we greet each morning. For that, I take his obsession as a compliment.