It was four years ago today that we saw you being left behind when J left for school. We were stunned by this development. I’m sure you were stunned also. You had been his constant companions for two years, and he wouldn’t put you down voluntarily for anything other than his shower.
We saw J eat meals, sit on the toilet, get dressed, sleep, walk, do chores all while encumbered with the four of you. Awkward though this was, you were a welcome presence. Before you, J had been beating his forehead with his bare fists, and we’d seen boo, scabs, bruises and scrapes appear and disappear in an constant parade.
For some reason, his first comfort item was a balloon. We had a shoe box full of balloons because, of course, they would pop or deflate, and J would get upset and, hands free of this item, he’d hit himself. You, his Everlast boxing gloves, were part of his “uniform.” He also had a sparring helmet to match. We used to joke that kids at school wouldn’t mess with J because he is tall, big and was professionally equipped for a rumble.
We tried to make light of it because we had to; what do you say when your kid walks around with four boxing gloves and doesn’t let them go for any reason?
The day he got dressed for school and, rather valiantly, pushed you aside when we handed you over, we almost cried. We didn’t cry because we didn’t want him to think we’re wusses, and we didn’t want him to hesitate. He had made this decision, and we were going to be encouraging. The moment J and Dada left to wait for the bus, I sat on his bed (with you,) and called his teacher. I remember telling her to let us know if we needed to run over there with his comfort items at any time during the school day.
J came home and found you on his bed, waiting for him. And he was fine. He never carried you anywhere again, but he always makes sure that you are neatly placed by Raggedy Ann, Minnie Mouse and Daisy Duck when he makes the bed in the morning. He also tucks you in next to him at night. He is fond of you, and you still give him comfort.
Four years is a long time. We know that Slinky has lasted as a comfort item way longer than you, but we also know that Sparring Helmet was soon replaced with Scrum Cap Covered By Rasta Hat. By the way, you don’t see it during the day, but Scrum Cap Covered By Rasta Hat hangs on a hook near J’s PECS board in the kitchen. It goes there when he comes downstairs in the morning, and doesn’t get picked up again until he heads up to bed at night. He sees you more frequently, stopping by when he’s doing his chores, making sure you haven’t fallen off the bed.
I don’t think we’ll ever get rid of you. J likes having you around. When he’s sick, he curls up with you; when he’s well, he feels comforted by your presence. Slinky is his wing…item, but you remind him of how far he’s come, and that it’s ok to sometimes need something to make you feel better.
I wanted to say thank you. I also wanted to let you know that we remember all you’ve done, and we see your being left at home as a positive milestone, not a negative one. We don’t forget that you were there when J was being harmful towards himself, and you stopped quite a bit of nasty bumps that might have happened.
These are usually given to the fighter, but we think you deserve them…