Susan's Blog

Monday, July 28, 2008

Transition Object-Shun

This morning I was thinking about transition objects. What a stuffy, stiff, staid term for something utterly otherwise. So some people call them “lovies.” Everyone I know had one:

Mine: “Lush,” (pronounced “loosh,” but never to be confused with the awful “louche.”) My little baby blanket, blue with satin edging
Ned: A pacifier, name unknown
Laura: “Blanklin,” her baby blanket
Nat: “Floppy Bunny,” and then “Funny Bunny,” (pronounced “Fuh-ee Buh-ee”)
Max: “Blue Blankie,” which was originally a shower gift a relative gave me, for Nat
Ben: Superman, a tiny plastic Happy Meal figurine, with cloth cape and arms that snapped upward in flying mode when you pushed a tiny button on him.

Some people hold onto theirs, others must get rid of them, or have had theirs thrown away in order to break the habit. It seems awfully harsh and against the intent of a transition object, for someone else to decide it is time to throw it out. What about the lost lovie? Are they lost because the owner feels it is time, or are they lost in a tragic way?

I am not sure what happened to my Lush, or Laura’s Blanklin. I suppose Mom could tell me, but I don’t really want to know. (Anyway, I still have Shed, my baby doll, whom I named after my Mom, “Shelly.”) I do know that Ned threw his pacifier out one day while in his carriage, on the Grand Concourse in New York, and never looked back. Did his Mom know, and feel secretly glad for Ned to be done with this teeth-ruining habit, and purposefully not retrieve it, or did she not know?

Max still has Blue Blankie, a tattered clump of blue and dirty blue yarn. He is somewhere in Max’s room, but no longer on his bed. Benj lost Superman in the sands of Nauset Light Beach, Cape Cod. He used to love to bury him and then find him, and one day, he just could not find him. We searched and searched, and dug and dug. My parents even returned there the next day to search the spot. Max wept over Ben’s lost lovie, as did my parents. But Ben did not. As deeply as Superman was needed and loved by Little B (he traveled in Beastie’s warm, fat little hand for about a year), when he was gone, he was gone.

Nat had Floppy Bunny, of Nat Book fame. He loved that guy, always sucking his thumb and rubbing one ear under his nose while he did so. Floppy Bunny, bought by my parents in somewhere like Williamsburg, went everywhere, but one day, while out on a walk with Nat and Max in the double stroller, we found we had returned without FB. In a panic, Ned went back to the area we had walked, and there he found only the ear of Floppy Bunny. What sort of grisly event had occurred? We didn’t even want to think of it.

How would we tell Nat? What if he were sad beyond belief? We already suspected that he had some kind of difficulty understanding language. We acted quickly, and took a similar bunny Mom and Dad had given Max. Max had never really cared for this odd bastardized version of Floppy Bunny. Funny Bunny had a weird floppy-brimmed hat sewn to him; maybe this was the reason for the aversion. Nevertheless, Ned and I cut off the silly brim and then saw that Funny Bunny looked very much like Floppy Bunny. We gave him to Nat, who seemed happy enough to love this new lovie.

Nat has always been remarkably adaptable in this way. This is why we nicknamed him “Mini Man,” when he was a baby. He was so self-sufficient, never needy or clingy. He happily reached for me, but he was always content to be by himself, too. (I suppose you could say this was the autism. Or you could say it was the way Nat was. Or both.) When Nat started school, at age 3, Ned and I suffered terribly worrying that he would be sad without us. Ned stayed hidden outside Nat’s classroom for the first few days, just listening for the sounds of Nat’s agony. They never happened.

And so, today, after so many months of worry, angst, agony, and tears, we are bringing Nat to school, and allowing the van to take him to the Residences there after school — to have dinner, to sleep, and to begin his life there. Last night he seemed a bit anxious about the fact that he was sleeping there, rather than here, for a while. We realized that aside from maybe being a bit subdued from his roiling stomach in the morning, that what was bothering him were the words, “a while,” perhaps more than the fact of moving. So we picked a date that he would come home, in two weeks, and he seemed to be calmer after that.

I suppose — looking back at Nat’s remarkable Mini Man ability to “do what he can,” as we used to say, and to adapt to whatever is thrown his way, or lost — that I should be assured that he will probably do okay tonight in his new bed. This time, Ned can’t hide outside and listen for the signs of sadness. But — maybe he doesn’t need to.


GOOD FOR YOU! The party was perfect and tangible proof of your love for you son.
You are generous to share your story. Others will take comfort knowing it.

— added by Anonymous on Monday, July 28, 2008 at 8:30 am

THinking of you today and sending blessings for a smooth transition for all of you. xo

— added by Niksmom on Monday, July 28, 2008 at 9:42 am

Susan, sounds like you are coming to terms with this whole big change a little more. I am glad you are finding some peace in it. You have raised this guy well, and I think in your heart you know things will be ok!

I by the way had “fluffy” pillow and “bippy” (pacifier) till I was 4! My son never even wanted one! Who was the needier child? lol

— added by Bonnie on Monday, July 28, 2008 at 9:45 am

You did well Susan. You should be proud of the young man you raised in Nat. He sounds like every other young person who moves away in the sense that he may have been getting nervous about when he would be home again. Be well. Penny

— added by Penny on Monday, July 28, 2008 at 2:03 pm

yay. you did it-made to the “date” and my anonymous thoughts are with you. Now sit back, and reflect. Grieve. Celebrate. be happy. be sad. Be everything. What a wonderful mother you are-please give us updates. Reading about your family and Nat is so wonderful. I wish him happiness and some new found freedom-what every 18 year old wants but we as mother are so not wanting to give them at times.

Bittersweet-nothing could describe it more. You have such a lovely family.

— added by Anonymous on Monday, July 28, 2008 at 3:33 pm

Phew! -Tina G.

— added by Anonymous on Monday, July 28, 2008 at 4:47 pm