Friday, January 14, 2011


Annie needs a baby picture of herself for a school project next week.  Mr. R. is going to put up baby pictures of all the first-graders in the class, and the kids are going to try to match the photos with their classmates.  So I pulled a photo from one of the albums in the cabinet, one of Annie on her first day home from the hospital.  In it, she is sleeping in the white cradle my father-in-law made for us as a baby gift.  She is wearing the pink knit hat that the hospital gave us when she was born, and she is swaddled in the pink waffle-weave blanket that came to be known as Doop.

We didn't set out to make Annie fall in love with one specific "lovey" - in fact, we didn't really want that to happen at all.  At first, we rotated the blankets we swaddled her in, out of necessity (blow-out diapers, spit-up of epic proportions and frequency) and out of a hope that she'd love all five or six blankets (green, yellow, light pink, dark pink, white) interchangeably.  I didn't want her to be attached to just one thing; I didn't want the pressure to always have it with us and the risk that we would lose it and ruin every good sleep habit we'd carefully instilled.

No matter our intentions, though:  Annie fall in love with the single pink blanket.  Well before she was one, she was expecting it and needing it to fall asleep.  "Dip!" she'd chirp, at naptime and bedtime, in the carseat and in the crib, and then she'd rub the fibers of the fabric against her cheek while sucking the middle fingers of her left hand.  "Dip" somehow morphed into "Doop," and Doop has been with us now over six years.

Doop has been to Sanibel Island, Disney World, Fort Myers Beach.  (Doop really seems to like Florida.)  Doop has been snuggled in Petoskey, South Haven, Indiana, Chicago, Holland.  Doop has been to school for show-and-tell, to grandparents' for overnight visits, on road trips all over the city and state.  We've left Doop behind a few, critical times and had to get her back as soon as possible, though there is one waffle-weave shirt of mine from college days that can substitute in a pinch.  Doop still sleeps with Annie every single night without exception.

These days, Doop is starting to fall apart.  She has faded to a very pale pink, and her edges have frayed and worn.  A few weeks ago, the outside seam that goes all the way around the edges of the blanket came completely off.  My mom had sewn it back on once before, but has declared her unwillingness to do so again, so Annie held the circle of seam in her hand and we cut a chunk out to tape in her baby book.

Then Annie turned and threw the rest of the seam in the garbage.

She went to bed that night as usual, clutching the part of Doop that remained, dreaming her six-year-old dreams of ballerinas and Toy Story and whatever else six-year-olds dream of.  She did not seem sad.

But I was sad.  I closed the baby book and put it back on the shelf, and I worried that Doop will fray a little more each night that she is clutched, each time that she is washed, and what then?  Will there come a day when Doop just falls to pieces and becomes a pile of loose pink threads and Annie loses her little mind?  Or will Annie brush her teeth one night and get into bed and say, "I feel like I'm all done sleeping with Doop"?  And which would be worse, or better?

Later, when everyone else was asleep, I went into the kitchen and took the long, frayed edge of Doop back out of the trash.  I stuffed it into the drawer of my nightstand.  I don't know why I put it there, or why I love to watch my kids growing up into the people they're becoming but I hate the tangible evidence of the fact that they're no longer my babies, but I couldn't stand to think of this piece of her babyhood in the trash or what it means that it really does belong there.

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