On the morning of her first day of pre-school this year, our four-year-old Curly-locks picked up her beloved comforter and walked into the kitchen.
In a stranglehold, she held Teddy at arm’s length over the bin and declared, ‘Time to throw Teddy out’.
She dropped him into the bin on a pile of food scraps, dusted off her hands theatrically and walked off with her head held high.
Dave and I stood in the kitchen like dumb and dumber wondering what had just happened. We had no idea Teddy’s time was up.
Curly-locks and Teddy have been BFFs since birth. Everywhere Curly-locks went, Teddy was right there under her arm, over her shoulder, worn as a cape, a hat, or dangling by one ear from her mouth.
He was desperately loved. The stuffing had come out of his arms and mum chopped his ears off when she couldn’t stand looking at how scraggly and stained they had become. Four years of snuggly love had been put into this Teddy and it showed.
We had long accepted that Teddy was what our shy and sensitive little girl needed to help her feel safe and at ease.
Mid last year, Curly-locks took massive steps in letting go, but it seemed as soon as we made progress she would take a couple of steps back.
There have been a number of times in the past six months when people have asked her why she is still carrying around that, ‘dirty old thing’.
She may only be four, but she’s not silly. She takes in everything everyone says to her.
Now in her second year of pre-school she knows she is a big girl now. Throwing out Teddy was her way of saying that she is ready to start being brave. It was a massive sign of her growing confidence.
When Curly-locks threw Teddy out, I told her it was okay if she changed her mind. She could still have him to snuggle at night only. She assured us that she was ready to let him go.
Dave and I felt completely out of our element. Sure, we were extremely excited to not have her carry around her ‘dirty old thing’ everywhere we went, but it was Teddy and Teddy and Curly-locks were inseparable.
When she wasn’t looking, Dave took Teddy out of the bin and hid him in case she regretted her decision.
The first few days were tough, but not as bad as we had expected. There were plenty of tears on the first night and the next two pre-school drop offs were hard.
All of the other kids still had their snuggle buddies, plus it didn’t help that her little sister kept repeating, ‘I not frow my Teddy out. I just a little girl. I not big’.
We stayed strong and suggested she take another toy to pre-school in case she needed a cuddle.
It turns out she has hardly needed that toy.
On the way home the other day we followed a garbage truck. We could see it lifting up the rubbish and squashing it down.
‘Is Teddy in there, mummy?’ she asked.
‘No darling. He’s at the dump,’ I said.
‘What’s he doing at the dump?’
‘He’s making friends with other teddies other kids have thrown out. Do you miss Teddy?’
‘No,’ she said.
We drove the rest of the way home in silence as I battled the guilts big time and did everything in my power to not race into the laundry and bring Teddy out of hiding.
Poor Teddy, just like the velveteen rabbit. Once so loved and now left abandoned holed up in a cupboard until her 21st.
I hope we made the right decision not bringing him out of hiding.
It is comforting to know that it was her decision, it happened very naturally for her, and she is coping well without him most of the time.
This parenting gig is hard sometimes.
What would you have done? Does/did your child have a comforter? What age did he/she give it up?
Linking up today with EssentiallyJess for IBOT.