Many young children have a favourite soft toy or item which they cart around with them and can’t be without. Linus with his security blanket in the Charlie Brown comics is a good example.
The strong emotional attachment to an object, most commonly something soft and cuddly, generally occurs during those years before school age when children are making the transition from total dependence to independence.
One of my children had a mohair blanket which seemed to be constantly with her. She would twirl and tease the hair until she had a little ball of fluff which she rolled between her fingers and used to caress her nose as she sucked her thumb. I would find little balls of fluff all over the house and, over a couple of years of such treatment, ‘Blankie” became quite threadbare.
I knew children who had favourite dolls they dragged around everywhere. They would become quite distressed if their dolls could not be found.
I knew children who could not be without their “Blankie” so mothers bought two identical so that one could replace the other while it was being washed.
Whatever the focus, it never seemed to matter how old, tatty, and frayed the items became, they were loved no less.
Newer toys and blankets made of microfibres are very soft and comforting, and perhaps more durable.
I don’t remember having a special toy or blanket for security. Do you?
Chances are, if I had one, I would have destroyed it somehow in attempting to discover its properties, as I was known to do with other toys. In my mind it wasn’t destruction, it was discovery. (Is that the excuse of those who invent weapons of mass destruction?)
Or possibly my lack of memory is more related to the fact that we have very few memories of our earliest years. According to this article by Australian science communicator Dr Karl Kruszelnicki, childhood amnesia may be related to neurogenesis. The rapid increase of new nerve cells in those formative years means that the old nerve cells are over-written and hence memories erased.
The need for these comforters in young children is generally outgrown by the time children are of school age. The toys and blankets are discarded and forgotten as the children mature and other activities fill their time and minds.
But for children experiencing higher levels of insecurity and anxiety, the need may continue. For Marnie, a character about whom I wrote many flash fiction stories, a unicorn toy was of comfort when she was feeling particularly vulnerable. Her need for it continued into her early school years and its appearance was an indicator to teachers that things were going badly for her again. When, as a confident adult, she returned to her childhood home, she found she had long outgrown the unicorn that had given her comfort as a child..
I’m thinking about security objects and flash fiction again this week in response to Charli’s prompt at the Carrot Ranch to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about something frayed. It could be fabric, like a flag or garment. It could also be nerves or temper. What is it to be frayed?
However, I haven’t written about Marnie and her unicorn this time, but something else that’s frayed. I hope you enjoy it.
He’d perched on the stool for longer than anyone knew. Though his coat was threadbare and his bowtie frayed, nothing could erase his smile as he waited daily for a tinkle announcing a potential buyer. The days, though long, were not too long for one as imaginative as he, conjuring stories for items cluttering the shelves.
One day a woman in a large blue hat and floral coat examined everything in the store, so quietly, he’d forgotten she was there. She startled him saying, “I’ll take him.”
Lovingly restored, he took his place alongside others in the Toy Museum.
Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.