Monday, September 14, 2015

The Woobie

Originally published in the Miami News-Record on August 30, 2015

They were just cloth diapers, however we didn’t use them for that. I bought them second-hand from my boss at the time. His boys were out of infanthood and I was a newlywed with dreams of a family. So they were tucked away in the spare room until the blessed event occurred.

Abby was our most prolific puker. We ran the gambit of formulas in attempts to quell the fount of ...stuff that emitted from our baby. Those cloths were put through their paces her first year. While the burp cloths were ever present and actually a part of my wardrobe that first year, (seriously, every picture of me taken during Abby’s first year shows me sporting a cloth diaper on my left shoulder – it’s comical, really) she had no particular attachment to them.

Then her brother came along and once again we dragged out the burp cloths. It was a force of habit to start wearing a burp cloth on my left shoulder even though he wasn’t the projectile spewer his sister had been. But a funny thing happened when he wasn’t very old – we noticed that when we picked him up, he found that ever-present cloth and grabbed it up in his tiny little hand. He would clutch it and love on it and soon, he was our own little Linus. We started tying a knot in the end of one so we’d know not to wipe up slobbers, boogers, or spits with it. And it wasn’t long before it had a name: it was The Woobie. He went to bed with it, woke up with it, drove it around in his Tonka dump truck, and ate with it in his lap. After he was weaned off the bottle and no longer needed a burp cloth, Woobie still hung around. He had about three dozen to choose from and we just rotated them out when they started smelling weird or I felt they might start standing up on its own. I mean, they were all identical, so they were easily interchangeable.

Then SURPRISE! We found out we were going to have a Kady! And while we tried to convince brother that the new baby was going to need the burp cloths for actual burping, he didn’t buy it. We finally reached an agreement – he would keep three for himself and the rest had to go to his new sister. And because he was in the throes of stinky boy-ness, I promptly dyed them all bright pink so he would want nothing to do with the ones he donated. It worked. He said pink was gross.

Then a new generation of Woobie was born, all pink and girly. It wasn’t long before we were tying a knot in the end of one to keep it goo-free. And that sweet girl carried those pink raggedy hunks of cloth everywhere, even more than her brother did. By the time Kady was born, those burp cloths were in the neighborhood of 23 years old. They held up well, I think.

Tucked safely in their keepsake boxes are many things – locks of hair, birth announcements, etc. In Abby’s is a paci with no end (creative habit-breaking on my part). In Sam’s is a very dingy Woobie with a knot in the end. And in Kady’s, a tiny 4x4 piece of the palest pink, ratty, threadbare fabric that is all that is left of the very last Woobie. Sam’s was washed before I put it away and in my tenderest of Mommy moments, I will breathe deep into it and reminisce of the scent of his little boy noggin. Kady’s, however, was in such bad shape it could not be washed before it was put away. It would have disintegrated for sure.  I don’t sniff around on that one. I think it’s better to remember the smell of her little head without partaking of the Woobie. It’s probably just safer for my nasal passages. 

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