Excerpt From Allyson's Journal, Sunday 7/15/07 (age 13 months)
Many babies get attached to a comfort object: a favorite blankie, a pacifier, a monkey. You, however, don't seem to form any long-term attachments. Instead, you become infatuated with various random objects.
Although you do enjoy hugging your Baby (the blue Sleepy Time bear) and the green puppy that a kid from our home group gave you, you get the most intense pleasure from carrying around less conventional comfort objects: fingernail polish bottles, hand lotion, a can of Eagle Brand condensed milk at the grocery store, your tiny toothbrush, Mommy's hairbrush, suntan lotion, tiny hair clips, water bottles (full or empty, which you pretend to drink), and dental floss, to name a few.
I think the reason these objects are so highly prized is that you labor so much to obtain them. You reach high overhead to fish things out of the vanity drawers in our bathroom. You pull open the bottom cabinets, straining against the safety locks, and wedge your little arm through the crack. You grunt and whine, rummaging blindly, and you persist until you pull out whatever object you happen to grab hold of. Once you have worked the object free, you brandish it triumphantly over your head, and then you carry it gleefully around the house.
You guard these prizes fiercely, and as long as they aren't harmful, we don't have the heart to take them away after you have worked so hard to obtain them. So we let you carry these bizarre comfort objects all around until you finally forget about them and abandon them in odd places.
The very best objects, though, are the forbidden ones. You are always on the lookout to snatch car keys, cell phones, and TV remotes. You are very adept at pushing buttons. Once, you were randomly calling someone on my cell phone, and I wasn't ready to battle you for possession. So I held down the End button until the phone turned off. Now, I thought, you could do less damage. You were too smart, though. Immediately, you pressed and held the same button until you heard the welcome tones as the phone sprang back to life. So I had to pry it loose from your clenched fingers. Boy, were you mad!
We've tried to give you toy versions of these treasures, but you are too clever to fall for imitations. No matter what fancy lights or sounds come with a toy cell phone or keys, you still prefer the ones we are using.
Oh well. Sometimes it can be inconvenient, but mainly it's pretty cute!
Eighteen Months Later Allyson still hasn't adopted a comfort object. She loves many of her dolls and stuffed animals, but she never has chosen a favorite. She is still fascinated by bizarre objects--her latest infatuation is with kitchen gadgets like the garlic press and the silicone basting brush. I think she's going to be like her mother!
As a toddler, Ethan was attached to his Barney stuffed animal, which was not surprising since he was crazy about that mildly annoying show featuring the giant purple dinosaur. What I recall when I look back on Ethan's toddler days is his wide array of peculiar phobias.
He was afraid of:
- The vacuum cleaner - Much too noisy
- The ironing board - Made a scary screeching noise (because it was literally as old as I was)
- All costumed characters - Especially the "rat" at Chuck E. Cheese. He loved going there, but he spent much of his time huddled behind my legs.
- Balloons - He was terrified of the loud noise when he heard them pop. He couldn't be anywhere near a balloon without going into hysterics.
- Tree bark - Much too rough
- Grass - ???
Emily babysat Ethan for a few months, around the time he turned one. Uncle Chris cured him of a couple phobias during that time. He held an ironing board and folded and unfolded it rapidly. If there was any screeching noise from their ironing board, Ethan couldn't have known because he was screaming too loudly to hear it. Throughout this therapy session, Chris laughed uproariously, and Ethan gradually stopped his crying and eventually couldn't keep from laughing along with him. I wasn't sure how I felt about this story until I realized that Ethan really was cured. In fact, every time I unfolded the ironing board after that, Ethan would laugh.
Chris also chased Ethan and little Hillary around with the vacuum cleaner. Both of them would howl piteously and climb up on the furniture. I'm not sure the conditioning was so effective with the vacuum cleaner; at age 11, Ethan is still a little uneasy when we vacuum (because Bill tries to run over his feet).
Ten Years Later Ethan finally outgrew all of his strange phobias, with the possible exception of the vacuum cleaner. His newest worry is sickness, especially stomach viruses. He is terrified of germs, and he's developed some unusual strategies for keeping well--which seem pretty effective since he never seems to get sick.