K has a blankie that she’s loved since a very early age. It’s pink fleece with characters from Winnie the Pooh, turned a bit nubby with love, about 12×18. She calls it Blankia, as almost everything she has gets an “ia” added to the end in her naming process. I had no problem with Blankia until she decided, on a three-year-old’s whim, that Blankia needed to remain folded at all times, exactly as she came folded from the wash. Thus began a period of untold frustration. I cannot count the number of nights B and I were called in to “Fix my Blankia!” The corners might have been the slightest out of alignment, and thus her world was rocked to the core. “It’s fine,” I’d tell her, only to be greeted by wails and tears. Refold, again and again. I wished longingly for the time when Blankia was wadded this way and that. I began to worry about OCD. It’s not like I’m normal either.
Then one morning, I sat on the edge of K’s bed and held the folded Blankia in my lap. “She needs to stretch,” I told K. “She’s been folded up for way to long.” I unfurled Blankia, ran the length between my hand as the creases eased out, and shook her a couple times for good measure. “Oh, that feels so good to Blankia.” K took her back, thinking, turning the open fabric in her hands. I waited for the tears, but instead K smiled. “She does feel better,” she said. And with that, Blankia was freed from the folded phase.
K is in a phase of her own right now. It’s been going on for about a month. Much whining, much stomping, much screaming. A simple request to wash hands or eat lunch or put on shoes is, nine times out of ten, met with unparalleled resistance. She seizes up, her whole body stiff. The screams build first with tremors over her whole body. Then are unleashed on anyone within a three mile radius. Almost everything requires “MAMI!” Even things that she’s been doing by herself for ages. I’ve had to peel her off my leg at school. She once went into hysterics because a friend said hello. Communication has, quite often, been reduced to reaching with a open hand, the words trapped behind her contracted face.
It’s like the folded Blankia all over again. She’s fallen into this place were everything has to be just so, where the creases have become so familiar that they bind her into this person, someone I barely recognize. I try smoothing her out–cuddles, kisses, rest, love–but she’s not buying it. Not yet. But it’s a phase. It’s always a phase. I remember the feeling of peace when I stretched Blankia out, how much better we all felt. I hold on to that.