I had a special blanket when I was a little girl. I called it my “blankie.” It had a silky band around the outside edge that felt soft against my cheek. I’d put my thumb in my mouth and use my other hand to rub the edge. My parents told me that because I couldn’t sleep without my blanket, they once drove more than 100 miles to retrieve it.
Fast-forward 25 years to my niece. Her blanket was a quilted sleep bag. Even after it was worn and ragged it remained essential to her well-being. She called it her “meemie,” a term coined from her attempts to say “Give it to me! Me!” I once raced to the post office to send it back to her via special delivery. Another time, when she was visiting, we were thrilled to find an identical blanket at a garage sale that she was willing to accept on an emergency basis– such as during the wash and dry cycle.
When I was expecting my first child, I met a woman with a large family who offered me just one piece of advice: “Get a pack of cloth diapers,” she said. “Place a clean one under your baby’s head each day. Put one on your shoulder when you hold the baby, too. Let it be the only consistent thing in the crib. If the baby attaches to anything, it will be the diaper and you’ll be glad to always have one on hand.”
It turned out to be sound advice. Both my children attached quickly and readily to the diapers and used them for comfort. Some were lost, but enough survived to become unnecessary. Adopting the term used by my niece, we also referred to them as “meemies.” Following the birth of my second child, I embroidered their names on them. As predicted, I was often grateful for the redundant quantities available.
Fast-forward to the present. My daughter asked me to embroider meemies for Jet before she was born. Cloth diapers come in colors and prints these days, so pink is used at home and yellow is for Grandma’s house. So far Jet has not insisted on the presence of any one special object. Sometimes she wants to bring a stuffed animal to Grandma’s and sometimes she doesn’t. Sometimes she asks for her blanket but she will accept any thin swaddling type. A meemie is always available in her crib.
Yesterday she tripped and fell. She wasn’t really hurt, but she appreciates a little attention after a bump. She grabbed my hand and pulled hard, while screwing up her face to cry. “Get my meemie. Grandma, go get it.” She ran to the bedroom still firmly holding my hand.
“You need your meemie?” I was surprised because she had not asked in quite a while, and yet, some part of me was also pleased to realize that a meemie still has some special magical powers for Jet. I pulled it from the crib.
Jet put it on her face and rubbed her cheek, just like her mama used to do. I picked her up and she buried her head in the meemie on my left shoulder. By this time, the tears had stopped, of course. She sat up and put it on her head. Even though she realizes that peek-a-boo is a sham she still likes to play it from time to time. “Where’s Jet?” I asked.
She uncovered one eye and gave me an impish grin. “She’s right HERE!” she informed me.
“Oh, THERE you are!” I replied.