Before our first born arrived I was a bit superstitious about buying anything. The one thing we made an exception for was a soft toy, a rabbit we named Walt, who (as advised by the parents-to-be books that we devoured back then) we slept with in the weeks leading up to my due date so that it would smell of us and offer comfort to our precious baby when he needed it – leading to a calm, secure, sleeping-through-the-night-from-2-weeks baby. I’d look at Walt in those mega-pregga days and imagine the times ahead: visions of a baby and a rabbit with a really special relationship; how carefully we’d look after this well-worn rabbit, desperately avoiding him being the bedraggled looking lost soul that you sometimes see on the pavement, rescued from a puddle by a kind passer-by waiting to be reunited with its distraught owner.
And then our precious baby was born, and seemed to get no comfort from anything at all with the exception of 2 newly-massive lumps on the front of my chest.
In the months that followed, we kept trying to get him to love Walt. He’d sit watching over his moses basket, he’d come in the pram on walks with us, he’d feature in the significant photos. Walt was the 4th member of our new little family. Or so we pretended.
In truth, our baby couldn’t have been less bothered by him. And I’m not just talking about those early days when he was too little to be bothered by anything. He loved other things instead:
- A tiny rabbit bought by my mum who we called Wettie due to his being constantly, hideously soaking from being sucked and chewed. It STANK.
- A pair of wooden maracas bought for a couple of quid from amazon that were such a firm favourite for months that I lovingly created marzipan versions of them for his first birthday cake
- A wooden stick, part of a music set I think, but the only part of it that interested him. Just a stick, made of wood
- The Calpol syringe
- And, of course, his absolute favourite – the purple strip from the top of a Cadbury’s sharing bag which he would hold and flap for hours and hours (I made sure I kept him in good supply of these)
But he never reached for poor Walt, never cuddled him, never took him on walks. He really wasn’t interested. Walt became one of the “friends” that sat alongside his bed at night but that was it.
And then, one night, when he was about 18 months, he pulled Walt into his bed. And then did the same the next night. And then cried for him when he couldn’t locate him in his cot in the middle of the night. He started to refer to him as his “best friend”. And literally, from then onwards, Walt was a true favourite.
He doesn’t come on walks with us. He doesn’t carry him round the house. He doesn’t leave his bed. But come bed time, every night, it’s this slightly worn, loved rabbit that is bundled under his arm and remains there until morning. Walt has become exactly the comforter he was bought to be, a real favourite.
But I still keep supplying him with the Cadbury’s strips, just in case.