Some children suck their thumbs, some have pacifiers, some have a favorite bottle or sippy cup or blanket. Our boys have never had any of these habits ... but lately, they've both been all about the bears.
It started with Hesperos, the baby, and Helios followed shortly afterward (no doubt partially motivated by the attention we gave Hesperos). During a recent closet-cleaning event, Mommy found, still in its original Build-a-Bear cardboard box, the stuffed bear that Hesperos was given by Aunt Sully, Uncle Elmo, and cousins Oscar, Rose, and Jasmine on the day he was born.
Soft and squishy, the unnamed bear plays Brahm's lullaby at breakneck speed and is now Hesperos' favorite pillow. Every night and nap time, Hesperos rushes into his room, grabs his bear off his mattress, and hugs it bottom side up (apparently the bear's bare bottom is an excellent baby chin resting place). When Hesperos lies down on his mattress, he scrunches the bear into about 1/3 of its size so it can fit entirely under Hesperos' chin and cheeks. Between lying-down-time and falling-asleep-time, there may be some drooling and ear gnawing, demonstrating that the bear serves the multiple functions of friend, pillow, and tasty nighttime snack. (If we can't figure out how to wash that bear soon, it'll also add a fourth function to its repertory, that of germ-infested repository of bacteria.)
On those rare mornings when Hesperos awakens before Mommy and Daddy, he climbs off his mattress, bear in hand, and waddles through the upstairs, on his mission to awaken others. If unsuccessful, his second ambition is to get in some cuddling time. Most of these mornings begin with a slightly slimy, quite drool-damp bear being tossed onto Mommy's and Daddy's bed (often hitting one of us in the face, an unwelcome good morning present), followed by entreating hands and some baby-like whimpers that seem to mean "you already have the bear, now get me, too!"
Helios isn't as much of a ham (at least not in this one instance). His bear attraction is relegated strictly to classic Pooh, the stuffed toy Mommy and Daddy got for him even before he was born. Pooh is ultra-soft and furry ... and, although he doesn't play a lullaby, comes replete with stories, songs, and friends.
Bedtime with Helios now involves being tucked in with night-nights (he says night-night to all of his family members which, given the number, results in a War-and-Peace style epic every evening). After saying 'good night' to everyone, he gets treated to Mommy singing him the "Winnie the Pooh" song with Pooh bouncing on Helios' belly. Helios chortles and chuckles a bit, followed by the normal requests for "again, again, AGAIN!" Once Mommy has sang herself into croaks, Helios finally goes to sleep. But, as soon as he wakes up in the morning, he's ready to hop into the car to listen to the CD of Winnie-the-Pooh (and Tigger, and Rabbit, and ...) music. We listen to Pooh music so much that the last couple of nights, Mommy has dreamed of the Hundred Akre Wood and started humming "Winnie the Pooh, Winnie the Pooh, chubby little cubby all stuffed with fluff, he's Winnie the Pooh..." immediately after awakening.
Oh, well. At least it's a change from trains.