When LL was just two months old or so, he semi-adopted his first security object. It was a little white burp cloth with blue stars and blue embroidered embellishments along the edges. One of my mother-in-law's friends made him a set of three similar cloths, but he only liked the one with the blue stars. He smiled when he saw it, he gripped it tightly when we gave it to him, he liked rubbing his cheek against it, and he seemed to sleep better if it was nearby.
The starry burp cloth was replaced by Froggie Blanket, a small dead-simple square quilt that I made for him out of some flannel with lily pads and frogs on it. LL briefly wanted to bring Froggie Blanket with him everywhere he went (and I added "make back-up Froggie Blanket out of leftover fabric" to my to-do list) but it quickly evolved into a sleepytime-only thing. He holds onto it at naptime and bedtime, and likes to hold it while being rocked, but in the morning he gives it a hug and leaves it in the crib. Occasionally, if he's sick or feeling particularly needy, he will want to hold onto it a bit more, which we let him do. It usually doesn't leave the house (he naps at daycare just fine without it) but it does join us on outings every so often. And he always always knows where it is, in a sixth sense sort of way. (Every once in a while at bedtime, we won't see it, but we just need to ask LL, "Where's Froggie Blanket?" and he will always know where to find it. Even that time it was stuffed inside the salad spinner in the back of a cabinet.)
I'm not a very artsy-crafty person. I do some occasional knitting or crocheting, but that's about it. And I've been known to go years between projects. But I love that LL is attached to the Froggie Blanket that I made.
But, little boys grow up, tastes change, new security objects are identified. We have a new must-have security object in our house. It's not exactly replacing Froggie Blanket, which is still required in the glider and crib at all times. This is more of an additional new friend. It's only been a week, so it may end up being short-lived, but LL's behavior with this thing has been sudden, dramatic, and different than anything he has ever done before. The object of his affection: a small stuffed zebra named NoNo.
I mentioned a little while ago that zebras are one of LL's favorite animals, and though he knows the word "zebra," he insists on calling them "no-nos" for, um, literary reasons. When we went to the zoo with Grandma and Grandpa, he spent a long time exclaiming over the zebras. As we were leaving, I helped my dad to pick out a little stuffed zebra at the zoo gift shop, for him to give to LL for his birthday.
LL thought the stuffed zebra was cool, but it pretty much stayed with all of his other toys. The fact that he played with it at all was a minor miracle, actually. We own a lot of stuffed animals in various sizes and species, and LL almost always ignores them. There's one monkey that he briefly liked playing with, because the monkey wears overalls and the overalls have a real zipper that goes up and down! not to mention monkey-sized shoes and socks, but other than that, LL just wasn't a stuffed animal or doll kind of kid. When I was trying to get him off of the starry burp cloth, I offered him a bear named Bingo at the same time as Froggie Blanket, and he was completely uninterested. (I'm wondering, in fact, why I even encouraged my dad to buy the stuffed zebra in the first place.)
So, the zebra sat in the toy box for a week or two. And then suddenly last week, when I was trying to get LL to climb into his high chair for dinner, he suddenly exclaimed, "NoNo!" I thought at first that he was just being defiant, but no, he was talking about the zebra. He dug it out of the toy box, climbed into his high chair with it, placed it carefully next to him at the table, and proceeded to feed it dinner. (Luckily, I was able to convince him very quickly that zebras don't eat yogurt, because that wasn't going anywhere good. It turns out that zebras survive mostly on goldfish crackers.) And ever since then, NoNo has gone everywhere with LL.
NoNo eats all meals with LL. He is clutched along with Froggie Blanket at bedtime. He rides toy trains. He reads books. (It is very important that NoNo be able to see the pictures.) He goes to the grocery store. Observations about the world are carefully explained to NoNo in long, complex sentences that only LL and NoNo completely understand. (I pick up individual words, but that's about it. I know that NoNo has been told about grandparents and shoes and jumbo jets, but I'm not sure what details were revealed.) So far, the only time that NoNo is left at home is when LL goes to daycare. Possibly it's because one of his friends there has a bear that she carries everywhere, and some of the other kids like to take it from her to make her cry, so LL might sense that NoNo won't be completely safe there. When he leaves for daycare, he gently kisses and hugs NoNo, then leaves him carefully by the door to wait for LL to come home again.
I am just blown away by this behavior. I know that kids like role playing, and they get attached to stuff, and they humanize animals. But I'm a little amazed by how suddenly LL adopted this particular friend. It's very cool to watch. It's also adding a bit of confusion to our household, because when LL yells, "No No!" we need to interpret whether he's talking about his zebra or saying "no" to something. But oh, so much fun to watch!