Ever get a whiff of your clothes on vacation and think, "Smells like my house," and in that moment you feel like you're a little closer to home? That's how it feels for me when I am near my 25-year-old stuffed bunny, Boogie — it feels like home when he's around.
When I was nannying, my pint-size employer slept with a little blue bear — aptly named "Little Blue Bear" — and if he ever went missing over the course of the day, a sh*t fit would be had, and I could never blame him. I used to do the same thing as a child when Boogie went missing — it's terrifying when you've lost something that makes you feel so secure.
But feeling such a strong attachment to an object is a red flag for some parents who think their child won't develop correctly with a stuffed animal or blanket — sometimes called a "lovey" — as a crutch. But they're a completely normal part of development, and seeing as I am 25 and still have mine, I'd go so far as to say they're a completely normal part of life in general.
I recently read an article about children and why they're so attached to their loveys, and I found myself nodding my head in agreement to every point made.
". . . these objects play a key role in a child's life, providing comfort when they're upset or anxious, giving them a sense of security as they gain independence, and acting as a soothing substitute when you're not around. . . . If a mother [or father] is gone, you can bring that soothing feeling back with an object."
At 8 years old, I started going to sleep-away camp, and even though I wanted to go, there were still times I missed home — like going to sleep at night — so I'd clutch Boogie, get a familiar scent, and fall blissfully asleep feeling safe and secure.
At 18, I went off to college in Pennsylvania, and even though it was exactly like camp, there were times I longed to be back in New York with my friends and family — enter Boogie.
At 22, my family got a dog who thought that Boogie was for him — and the boy loves to chew things to bits — so Boogie made his way from my bed to the shelf above it, and though the first few nights felt weird, having him there was enough.
At 25, I moved out of my parents' house, and in the beginning, I would look around and feel as if the house I was standing in would never be my home. I initially left Boogie on that shelf in my old room, until I went to my parents' house one night, looked around at some of the stuff I left behind, and spotted him. I've never had the feeling that my new house isn't my home since I brought Boogie back with me that night.
All that being said, I'm a completely normal, functioning adult with a job, friends, and an apartment who can totally go on vacation and sleep at night without a stuffed animal — but there's not a chance in hell I'd ever get rid of it.
Adults go through plenty of periods in their lives where having something that aids with self-soothing is beneficial — going through a breakup, moving to a new city, settling into a new job, dealing with loss. Those attachments that are formed with a lovey inspire trust and security to help with situations that induce anxiety and sadness.
So yes, I'm 25, and a once beautiful, soft bunny — now full of holes; missing stuffing, a nose, and ears; and no longer soft to the touch — is something that can instantly make me feel 100-percent safe, secure, and at home, no matter where I am, and I'm pretty grateful for that.