The here and now and a bit of way back then

I relived my journey to 40 and found there's so much more to say

Lellephant and all things like it

on July 27, 2015

This raggy looking almost threadbare manky elephant that looks like it ought to smell really bad (and most days it does) is the beloved treasure of #3.

#3 is not unique in having the equivalent of a ‘blankey’ or in grown up terms a ‘comforter’. But until #3 came along, Husband and I had never been held to ransom to the mild disruption, scrap that, to the total mayhem and panic that the absence of Lellephant brings upon our household at bedtime.


As I watched #3 search high and low for Lellephant and the joy on her face as they were reunited, I began wondering how long will this relationship last for. Already it’s been going on for over two and a half years. And as much as #3 loves us, without Lellephant around, she simply cannot fall asleep soundly.


#1 and 2 have had their attachments but no one single article as been as beloved as Lellephant to #3.

#1 was a thumb sucker (as is #3) and that was mostly enough. He’s since outgrown this habit but the callus on the back of his thumb still remains a telltale sign. At a year old, #1 favoured a pink and yellow watering can. When he was two years old, he moved on to carrying two Thomas the Tank Engine trains, one in each hand as he pottered along, whenever we went out. When he discovered a love of Cars at the age of three, that then morphed into two Lightening McQueen cars. Followed by two Dusty Crophoppers when Planes came out. At the age of six and a half, he’s moved onto Lego models which invariably means tiny pieces are misplaces here and there never to be found again.

#2 from the age of eight months old has championed the muslin cloth. Any muslin cloth will do. She couldn’t sleep without one covering the whole of her face. Quite disconcerting when she was a baby. But the look of joy on her face when she has a cloth bundled under her cheek just before she falls asleep smooths out all the troubles of any day.


So it’s not like #1 and 2 have never had that ‘blankey/sleepy toy’ relationship, they were just so easily low maintenance with it. And thus I was complacent about the dependence on a ‘blankey/sleepy toy’ that I used to find it quite bemusing when other parents would run around like headless chickens when their equivalent blankey/sleepy toy went missing.


Like total shutdown of all activity until it was found. The fear shining in their eyes. The mutual look of despair that passes silently between two parents. Without words, they know what’s coming if ‘blankey/sleepy toy’ is not found. They just KNOW.


And what do they know? They know that the attached child when detached from ‘blankey/sleepy toy’ will not sleep soundly that night.  And neither will anyone else in your household. No amount of cradling, hushing, stories, poor choice of fake replacement blankey/sleepy toy will do. You are doomed. You are.


Husband and I experienced this for ourselves. It was not pleasant. And so, just like that we became those kind of parents that has a checklist that includes ‘Lellephant’ on the list before we can leave the house.

  • When #3 goes to school, it’s part of her school kit. Even her teachers know that Lellephant to some degree is placed higher in her affections than even Husband or I.
  • When we go on holiday, Lellephant is on the essential list of things to pack.
  • When on long car journeys, Lellephant is clasped tightly in her little hands.
  • When going to bed, Lellephant is the last thing that #3 lets go of before she falls asleep.

The risk factor of taking Lellephant on holiday is the extra vigilence you need to ensure that Lellephant makes it back home with you. A toy train, car or plane can be replaced quite easily. A muslin cloth comes in packs of six. But a particular soft toy, blanket, sock even is not so easily replaced. And even a very similar duplicate will not fool the one attached to it.


I’ve thought of Plan B over the years and have tried to introduce variations on Lellephant. Is it because #3 loves elephants? She does. So I bought her similar sized elephants which brought her joy but did not displace Lellephant from her affections. Was it the fabric? So Brilliant New Adventure bought her a manatee same size as Lellephant and exact same colour and fabric. Manatee does have a place in her heart as it’s her second favourite animal but will never replace Lellephant.

So, what made me realign my thoughts on no longer looking on with bemusement when other parents freeze at the mention of the disappearance of ‘blankey/sleepy toy? An incident in Kyoto, Japan last year which was an amazing holiday that could have turned into one of the worst. All because the night before we were due to leave and after a long day of touring this amazing city, we returned to the hotel room at 9.45pm to find we were without Lellephant.


Where’s Lellephant? Is it in the rucksack? No. Is it in the pushchair? No. Is #3 holding it? No. #1? #2? Do you have Lellephant? No. Is it in the rucksack? No. Check again. I already have. Check again! At this point voices are rising slightly in a rathe shirll manner. And soon it’s about to descend into accusatory tones at the other for not looking after Lellephant more carefully when you know just how important Lellephant is to the harmony of this household. Especially at bedtime!


So at 10.15pm, I set off on a half hearted mission to retrace our steps in the hopes of what can only be described as a miracle happening that Lellephant would be found. We were in Kyoto! A busy metropolis. I could barely remember all the places we had been to. And most of these places would have closed for the night. I was not filled with hope. How could I explain to #3 that we had lost her most treasured belonging. How would she trust us again? Would our relationship ever recover? Or would she spend the rest of our lives with a look of disappointment and do a deep sigh whenever she saw an elephant for real.


Luckily we won’t have to find out. For as I turned a corner on the 7th floor of this shopping mall which was like a labyrinth of nooks and crannies, there on a bench all by itself was Lellephant.

Now, many inanimate objects can fill my heart with joy. But none so much as the sight of this raggy looking almost threadbare manky elephant that looks like it ought to smell really bad (and most days it does).

#3 is two years and 10 months old today. But her relationship with Lellephant remains strong. It is not really a raggy, threadbare manky elephant. It is an elephant that has been much loved. 

And I think this shows a child’s huge capacity to demonstrate love and affection.



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