By Carole Hallett Mobbs
While my daughter didn’t have a particular favourite until she was about five years old, whichever one was in her hands at a specific time had to be treated with great care and love.
Shortly before Daughter was two years old, we travelled to Dubai for a holiday. Daughter’s favourite cuddly toy that month was a pink teddy bear with no name. Teddy came on holiday too – not in the suitcase, no, that would be “cruel”. Teddy was going to be in-arms at all times. All was going well until we arrived at airport security. Teddy had to go on the conveyor belt through the x-ray machine. Oh dear! Teddy had fun, but daughter collapsed into very loud and heart-breaking hysterics as she watched Teddy disappear into a black hole.
Lesson 1 – explain everything to your child in advance. Tell them about airport security and how Teddy will have to go for a short ride but will appear again very quickly so she can cuddle it again. Also, tell your child that no, she doesn’t have to go on the conveyor belt too.
Fast forward a couple of years. This time the cuddly toy was a cat called Inti. Inti was an inanimate replacement for our recently deceased real cat. This connection meant that Daughter was rather more attached to this cat then previous toys and she would not put it down at all. Not even to visit the toilet on the plane. As you know, plane toilets are cramped at the best of times. When there is a hyper-active, airline-toilet-phobic five year old child, her mother and a life-sized cuddly cat in the same cubicle, it’s more than a tight squeeze. As Daughter tried to get as far away from the ‘loud, scary toilet’, the unthinkable happened…
Lesson 2 – Mum can move faster than the speed of light when it’s necessary to rescue a toy cat from being sucked down an airline toilet. Tip for the future? Leave the toy in the seat when visiting the airline toilet.
Shortly after this scary experience, Inti was replaced in Daughter’s affections by a toy dog called Splat. Splat has become the archetypal child’s comforter and hasn’t left her side since. He’s travelled everywhere with us, and I mean, everywhere. A highly-experienced traveller, he is not content to remain at home or in a hotel room, so comes on day trips, has been on every school camp, and every holiday. Splat is very precious indeed, and is therefore treated with infinite care. He has become part of the automatic check: Tickets? Passports? Keys? Splat?
Lesson 3 – a back-up toy bought in case of loss will never, ever be fully accepted. Even if it’s identical in every (adult-viewed) way, your child will know, by some mysterious means, that this is not the original toy.
Thankfully, we haven’t had to resort to this and Splat is still around. The scorned back-up was relegated to the toy bin many moons ago.
Lesson 4 – it’s wise to be aware that not all airport security staff are child-savvy. Some may treat Teddy with disrespect when looking for whatever it is they look for when squeezing and probing the toy. One even approached a toy with a knife! Mercifully, he noticed my Look (it’s a good Look) and backed off. Whatever was he thinking? Never mess with a Mother.
Pre-empt the inevitable concerns your child may have by seeing their precious toy being ‘mistreated’ by distracting your child while this search is taking place.
And don’t lose Teddy or leave him behind. Always make sure he’s within sight at all times – the fall-out of a loss (or even perceived loss) can be surprisingly devastating to everyone concerned.