When Little Chick was first placed with us, we asked his foster carer if he had a favourite soft toy. She reassured us that although he needed a blankie to sleep it could be any from his collection. However, it soon became apparent that there was a favourite. As time passed, Little Chick showed greater reliance on this toy.
Doggy is perhaps a link between life with his foster carer and life with us. We had hoped that Tag, the toy chosen for introductions, might serve this purpose, but it makes more sense that it is a toy he has elected. Doggy has received elevated status and is a genuine comfort to him. Losing Doggy, even for a few moments, can cause great distress, for Little Chick and for us. We anticipated that a child we adopted would need such a toy, but we hoped that wouldn’t be the case. As I look at the little toy, considerably more worn than six months ago, I see Little Chick’s anxiety, real or imagined. Going everywhere with Little Chick, Doggy has been subjected to many spills and marks and has needed to be thrown in the wash several times. Even this act, intended to help preserve Doggy and keep Little Chick safe from the grimness that is festering on its fur, fills me with guilt, as though I am whitewashing over the causes of Little Chick’s need for Doggy, not respecting his life story. Mostly, I know this is melodramatic rubbish, but that nagging doubt feeds into my own concerns of whether we are doing enough for Little Chick, whether we are good enough for him. On another level, I think I am jealous of this inanimate object. Yes, I realise that is one of the most absurd things I have said in a long list of ridiculous statements. Doggy provides instant relief and comfort to Little Chick, which we are not yet able to do, which we may never be able to do. In Doggy I see all my insecurities and inadequacies, including the fact that I should be grateful for Doggy, since he is a vehicle for Little Chick to deal with his feelings and emotions rather than resent it.
Being away from home and out of our usual routine, Little Chick has been asking for Doggy more and more. I’m proud of him for recognising a problem and seeking a solution. But I want to be the solution or at least the one who helps him find a solution. At the same time, I know this is not and should not be about me and I am frustrated with myself.
I am rushing Little Chick. I am expecting too much too soon. I am expecting a little boy, who has just turned three, to deal with incredibly difficult changes in a way that far exceeds his years. I am expecting him to behave like an adult, in many ways.
Amid everyday life it is hard to see how much progress Little Chick has made and how much he has achieved. Standing back for a moment and observing our lives as a friend or family member would, I can see how incredible Little Chick is and the leaps and strides he has made. Objectively, I can see that this would not have been possible without Doggy.
Edit (October 2018): Little Chick is becoming increasingly dependent on Doggy. Anticipating that he may need it more while I was away, we sourced a back-up. Having price tracked on eBay for months, we finally secured a duplicate that didn’t break the bank. When we were choosing a toy for introductions, we purposely selected one that could be bought quickly, relatively cheaply, and easily, opting for one that was available the next day from various online stores. We had considered buying two at the outset, but it felt wrong somehow, like tempting fate. However, my top tip is to buy a spare, if you can afford to do so. The stress of mislaying Doggy, even just in the house, would have justified a far greater financial outlay. Buy a spare – for your own peace of mind, if not your child’s.