Miffy (nijntje in her native Netherlands) is Dick Bruna’s most famous creation and a firm favourite in the Reed Warbler household. She has become symbolic of Little Chick’s development and growing confidence.
The first new book we shared with Little Chick was Miffy in the Snow. I had enjoyed the bright illustrations and simple rhymes as a child and hoped he would share my pleasure. We chose Miffy in the Snow as our first tale, since Little Chick’s arrival coincided with several weeks of snow. Amidst all the upheaval of introductions even the weather conditions were unusual and unpredictable, but Miffy made them a little safer and less threatening. The story includes Miffy finding a home for a little bird, which allowed us to share our love of ornithology and develop a narrative of looking after/being looked after. Echoing text from the book’s final page, “See you in the morning, bird” are always my last words and promise as I kiss him goodnight.
Having enjoyed more books in the collection, we introduced him to the movie. Until this point, he hadn’t watched much television and, frankly, we needed an electronic babysitter to give us a few minutes to ourselves. The film is American rather than European and was insufferable the first time we watched it. But Little Chick sat quietly, rapt, so we agreed on another viewing some days later. As I learned to blot out the terrible accents and whiny voices, I realised that it provided education as well as entertainment. Miffy at the Zoo encouraged Little Chick to identify colours, numbers, animals, and he tentatively joined in the songs, or demanded that we sing them to him at bedtime.
When we realised that Little Chick would not or could not sleep in a room with all his toys, we decided to create a separate bedroom purely for sleeping, at the expense of the guest bedroom. This small space contains just a bed and a few books, allowing for optimum rest and calm. To make it less like a monastic or prison cell, we set aside a budget for adding personal touches. Now Miffy adorns the walls and watches over him as he sleeps (not as creepy as it sounds). We had already decorated most of his bedroom before he moved in, but this time, he was able to see the room take shape and watch as his personality and interests were reflected in the décor. When the finishing touches were complete, he literally jumped with joy at his ‘big boy room’ that he shared with his friend Miffy.
More recently, Little Chick has started talking to and playing with imaginary friends, including Miffy. Initially, his soft toy of her likeness would sit at the table in the playroom and enjoy tea parties. Now there is no visible sign of her as Little Chick pours her another cup and offers one lump or two. His creative play is developing as he becomes more confident with us and more confident in his own abilities. These skills have probably shown the greatest improvement, and will no doubt continue to blossom when he resumes nursery in a few weeks and can regularly play alongside his peers.
Miffy has been a companion to us all these past six months, binding us together. In six months’ time, she may no longer be relevant to Little Chick as he replaces her with a new interest, a new character. But Miffy will always have a special place in my heart for the part she has played in getting to know my son.