Sunday, 5 October 2014

Transitional comfort object

When my mother was very small, her best friend was Edward Bear. Apparently she talked to him constantly.
By the time I came along, the old bear was pretty battered. His eyes were long gone and his hind paws unstuffed and unravelling.
For most of my childhood, he lived in the toybox with a moth-eaten golliwog, an inane knitted monkey and a pile of plastic dolls.

Occasionally my siblings and I threw building blocks on top of Mum’s bear but mostly we ignored him.

Miraculously, Edward Bear survived.

Several years ago, when our elderly parents had moved to rest homes, we began the daunting task of sorting out the house ready for sale. Someone found Edward Bear snoozing at the back of a wardrobe. We brought him up North where he lived quietly, for a couple of years, on a shelf at my sister’s house.
Several months ago, Mum spied Edward Bear and asked to take him to the rest home.

I’ve never heard Mum talking to him but she tells me she does. All the time.
According to Mum, Edward Bear doesn't say much, but he knows how to listen. He likes physical contact too - apparently a kiss on the nose is the thing.
“Have you said hello to Edward Bear?” asks Mum. So I kiss him.
“He doesn’t like it when people ignore him,” says Mum. “When they’re gone, he growls.”
Mum reckons that getting Edward Bear back is the best thing that’s happened since she moved out of home.

Naturally this week’s move back to the previous rest home was quite an event. “Does he know what’s happening?” I asked, in the days leading up to it.
“Of course,” said Mum. “He’s feeling quite unsettled.”

On the day of the move, we worked all morning, shifting Mum’s stuff.
We packed up and we drove to the new rest home. We unpacked and we tested the bed.
We talked about where to hang the pictures then we opened the last box.

There was Edward Bear, lying on top of a nest of scarves. He was wearing a slightly imperious expression.

Where to put him? Mum looked around for a while then sat him gently on the corner of the tallboy. “I like this room,” she said. “It has a very nice outlook.”
Then she looked at Edward Bear. “I think he approves.”

A comfort object, transitional object, or security blanket is an item used to provide psychological comfort, especially in unusual or unique situations, or at bedtime for small children. Among toddlers, comfort objects may take the form of a blanket, a stuffed animal, or a favourite toy.


  1. Edward has had an interesting life, and is clearly a survivor.
    Love your enlightening posts!

  2. Really interesting... almost like she's channelling herself through the bear.

  3. I imagine comfort objects as soft and cuddly. I can't imagine future generations using Buzz Lightyears or R2D2s.

  4. Lovely, thanks. I wonder if she remembers Shinto the little dog I paid a thousand dollars for. Her hosta's are all out in force in my garden Hello and lots of love to you both
    from Renee

    1. Mum adored that dog of yours! I asked her about Shinto and she couldn't picture him - but she remembered you. Lovely to hear that her garden continues to spread and inspire.