I am taking a bit of a break from the blogging challenge, because the topics are not enthusing me too much. Instead my husband suggested that I write about my daughter Migu and her safety blanket, a doll names Cookie, whose ribbon she has to clutch near her mouth in order to fall asleep. My husband thinks its a great achievement on my part to have inculcated the habit of cookie to Migu, I tell him almost all kids have their own safety blankets and they develop it pretty much on their own without our guidance. But he still thinks its a great achievement, and seeing that I don’t often get praised for my mothering skills, I will take his compliment and write about this.
Right after Migu came to us (she was 8 months old, when we adopted her), we realized that she did like to have some piece of cloth in her hand when she fell asleep. This is probably a habit she picked up at the adoption agency, where despite considerable care, there may not always have been the manpower to ensure that each child was carried and rocked individually to sleep. In the initial days, we tried the carrying, rocking, and sitting on the swing. I even sang to her to make her sleep. My husband is a good singer, and he even developed a repertoire of songs to make her sleep.
The problem was that making her sleep during the day was largely my responsibility. I could ask for help from others, but at that time, I was so insecure about myself as a mother, I would feel totally inadequate and depressed if I could not do even one of the tasks assigned to the mother. I would feel bad if she did not eat properly when I fed her, I would feel terrified if she did not sleep when I was trying to make her sleep, wondering, how will I ever bring up this child (I still feel that sometimes). And as my anxiety grew, I realized I was just not able to make her sleep. Perhaps, my anxiety was communicating itself to her. Perhaps, she found my body too bony for comfort. Perhaps, the embroidery on my kurtas irritated her. I would come up with a million reasons, all of which pointed at some inadequacy in myself.
The reasons, now are far clearer to me. She was a growing child, whose sleep needs were getting lesser. She was curious about the new environment she had come into, and trying to make a curious child sleep, in the garden where there are so many flowers and constant bird chatter to attract her is a pretty foolhardy enterprise. But I took my time to figure these out and absolve myself of the blame.
Then one day, I accidentally found out that rather than being carried, she preferred it if she was put down on her bed to sleep. She only wanted me to sit next to her. Then one day, she took a cloth lying on the bed, started twiddling with it and fell asleep. I remembered, that more than the cloth itself, she preferred tassels while sleeping. She had at times held the tassels in my dupatta, and once fallen asleep in the car, holding the tassels of my grandmothers shawl, which was lying next to her.
Luckily for me, at that time, this doll was lying on the bed. It was something, which had probably been given to me by someone, but which had been in the cupboard for many years probably, and was newly released. Till then, Migu had shown no particular interest in playing with the doll, or indeed with any toys. But that day, she started playing with the doll, before sleeping. 10 minutes later, she pointed to the ribbon (which had tassels). I handed it to her. She took it to her mouth and then dozed off.
The pattern repeated for a couple of days, and I thought I could create a good association here. When I brought her up to bed, I would ensure minimum stimulation, reducing almost all the light in the room (door closed, curtains drawn etc). And I would hand her the ribbon and she would gradually drift to sleep.
Now, she is so comfortable with Cookie that in the middle of the night, if she wakes up suddenly, handing over cookie’s ribbon is enough to soothe her. My husband and I spend many early mornings, when she has a disturbed sleep, ensuring that the ribbon stays in her hand (yeah, seems like a waste of our time, but hey, anything to ensure the child sleeps adequately, and does not wake up cranky).
Anyway, lets come to the name Cookie. I randomly chose the name, coz the doll had Coca Cola written on its ribbon and was sipping a bottle of Coke. My husband points out it should be Cokkie and not Cookie, but I don’t care. Migu herself calls it Kokku. In fact, now that is the term she uses to indicate she is sleepy. She says, Amma, Kokku, thaachi, which I suppose means, Amma, give me Cookie, I want to sleep.
Of course, now I realize this doll is some promotional item from Coke. I am worried about its subliminal messages. I have managed to wrench off the coke bottle from its hands, but my daughter still sleeps everyday with a ribbon which says coca cola. Will she grow up to become an addict because of this childhood attachment 🙂