Recently I found a box of childhood knick-knacks that my 15 year-old son discarded several years ago because they were too ‘babyish’. I looked through the collection with a pang of nostalgia and pulled out the remnants of the blue baby blanket I bought before he was born.
I remember waddling into Mothercare like a bulbous penguin – hot, huffy and in a hurry to find comfort for the baby who had yet to draw his first breath. I remember taking the blanket home and washing it. I dried it, sniffed it and folded it up in gleeful anticipation. I dreamed of wrapping it around the soft little body that was kicking and wriggling and growing inside me, as I waited and waited and waited.
Eventually the baby came out and so did the blanket. At first it gave him warmth; later it gave him much more. Security. Friendship. Somewhere to hide his face and cry. A plaything to wrestle with in his cot, he held the blanket up and gazed at the sunlight through the woven holes. He twisted it, hugged it and wrapped it around his feet. He learnt to walk so then he could drag it, swing it and take it outside.
Eventually the blanket got torn, but he didn’t mind because then he had two! Oops then it got torn again, but where did the other piece go? The baby got bigger and tougher, his blanket got smaller and shabbier. No longer needed, all that’s left of it now is a tattered scrap – a tired, tiny tangle of blue polyester spaghetti.
I had to use scissors to get what was left of the blanket out of the box because some of the more wayward threads had wrapped themselves like ivy around the other ‘special stuff’ from my son’s younger years: a carnival whistle, a sports day medal, a Mr Funny bookmark, glass-less glasses and a cornucopia of other bits and bobs with cherished memories attached.
My teenage boy is growing up fast, but what is left of his blue baby blanket will never be thrown away. I showed it to him when I found it and we laughed like fellow conspirators, remembering the bygone milky days with a knowing chuckle. We felt ever so grown up.