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Wrapped up in blankies


Everybody has one. It may be reduced to a worn, smelly scrap of cloth by now. Maybe all that remains is the bunny's ear. Perhaps you are lucky enough to have the whole, threadbare stuffed animal or most of the blanket, except where the satin binding has been rubbed away by years of soothing. If you are like me, all you have left is a fuzzy, soft, poignant memory of that very personal companion, a cuddly object that was, and still is, more than reality: a blankie.

I am a pediatrician so Blankies parade through my office all day holding their young owners. Some are potential Blankies that may not make the cut. Some are clearly established, with seniority. Blankies serve a very powerful purpose. They are the recipient of our first independent relationship apart from Mommy and Daddy, providing security through our earliest, formative separations. They provide us with a familiar sensual texture that conforms to our changing experiences. Our blankies accept our emotions and even our abuse unconditionally. As we grow older, more responsible, and we attempt to believe confidently in the myth of our independence, our blankies, or simply the memory of them, are our hedges.

At some point we realize the blankie was only a symbol. We recognize that the abilities that we assigned to our blankies were really always within us. There is no external magical being who makes it all better. We are it, and that is the problem.

Charles Schulz knew. Charlie Brown accosts Linus, who is clasping his habitual transitional object and exclaims, "Well, if you've got so much confidence in the world's getting better how come you hang onto that blanket?" Linus embraces his blanket, places his thumb in his mouth and says, "Touché."

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