Two years ago, on a 720 mile drive, Brooklynn developed an attachment to a blanket. We thought it was great. She would hold it in her car seat. She held it when she went to sleep. She used it to calm herself down. She never had used a pacifier as a baby, so this was her soothing device, or more literally, her security blanket. And it would be ok. Kids outgrow this stuff eventually, right? But no only does she hold her blanket; she chews it. After two years of being in her mouth, the blanket is not great looking[1. We have a few different blankets, but she has settled on one of them that we only have one of to be her main nighttime one.]. She needs one at school for naptime. She needs one at home for nighttime. We have mostly eliminated the blanket during the days, but we still coordinate our laundry schedule around her nap time to make sure a blanket is available.
At the end of the week, the blanket smells disgusting, especially on Saturday morning when she brings it with her and wants to stick it in my mouth while we lay in bed. "You want it, it's good," she tells me. No Brooklynn, I most certainly do not want that thing anywhere near my face. And so, it's time for the blanket to go[2. If only she didn't chew it. I like to hold a pillow when I sleep, so I'm not really one to talk of soothing issues, but at least my pillow doesn't reek of stale saliva at the end of the week.].
We've been talking with her for quite some time that when she is a big girl, she doesn't need her blanket. She agrees. In June, we settled on when she turns three, she doesn't need her blanket. Except for the fact that we had a long road trip coming up again, so we pushed back to mid-July.
No, blanket right? Not when you're a big girl? Nope, and nope. Big girls don't have blankets, from the mouth of a three-year old. Her cousins don't use blankets. Other kids at school don't use blankets.
So last night, after Rhiannon and I discussed the fact we would rather go through the pain of blanket separation before she goes back to work in August, we initiated the removal of the blanket.
We talked to Brooklynn about how she really doesn't need one. Agreed.
We talked about how if she sleeps through the night without a blanket, she could have a good treat in the morning. That's very good.
We talked about how if she goes for three nights and earns three stickers, we can go to the pool this weekend. Wonderful.
And then it came time to go to bed. She grabbed her blanket and climbed in. Remember, no blanket. We were really trying to get her to give it up voluntarily because she is a big girl now rather than just taking it from her or having it just mysteriously be gone one night. She took the blanket out of her mouth and handed it to Rhiannon.
And then immediately grabbed it back and started crying.
We talked about all the reasons why she didn't need it, and the fact that she has her Curious George monkey to hold, and she agreed to every one of the statements we were making, all the while clutching her blanket tightly.
So eventually, we stopped trying to talk her into giving it up. We kissed her goodnight, and as I was getting ready to leave her room, she asked, "Daddy, you want my blanket?" and held it out to me.
So I took it. I told her she was a very big girl and I got two steps away before she started screaming.
I took the blanket outside her room while she dissolved into tears and sobs about how she wanted her blanket. She wants to give it up, but she has no idea how to soothe herself without it. So I sat with her. Her fingers were rigid and outstreched with both hands held awkwardly at her sides. I had to hold her hands and cuddle her to stop some of the physical stress she was going through not having a blanket to hold.
I laid down with her. Rhiannon came and talked with her. Thirty minutes later, she was still sobbing. Finally, Curious George playing and being silly and the fact that it was an hour past her normal bedtime was enough to get her to sleep.
She made it 5 hours before she was in our room crying for her blanket. Rhiannon went back and laid with her again for a little while. Let's hope that this bedtime routine doesn't become a habit as well.
Night one with no blanket is over. We hope that was the worst. I don't know how naptime today will go, or tomorrow with no blanket at school. At this point, with all the work and crying we put in last night, we really don't want to go back. Step one in being a big girl complete.