Baby A’s Chicken Leg

Baby A is seven months old, and around this age, many children acquire a “lovey”–a stuffed animal, doll, blanket, etc. that comforts them.  Baby A has one too: a small plastic grilled chicken leg from M’s play kitchen.  No matter what’s making her cry, handing her the chicken leg makes it all better.  She carries it everywhere, usually in her mouth if she’s crawling, or she sits in her car seat and chews placidly on it.  I can see the appeal: it’s easy to hold, fun to beat on things with, can be swirled in peaches for a makeshift spoon, and is easy to throw at her sister.

I feel kind of silly sometimes, especially when I go to M’s school, and then stand there on the playground waiting for her as A chews on the chicken.  Other parents walk by and say, “What is that?  Why does she have that?”  (Or my favorite, “Are you feeding that baby CHICKEN?!”  “Yes.  I go by KFC every day to buy a chicken leg for a person with one tooth.  Grilled, you know; she’s watching her sodium intake.”)  and then I have to explain that it’s her security object.  I hope she never loses the thing, because I’m sure it came from one of those massive boxes of play food, and they don’t let you buy them individually.

At the same time, I envy Baby A and her chicken leg.  I remember when I was little, and how my favorite toy could make the worst day okay again.  How my dad was the biggest, strongest, bravest man in the world.  How my mom was the sweetest woman, and the smartest, and how she could fix everything.  My dad tells a story about how I was about four, and we had a blackout.  My mother was gone shopping, and I was afraid of the dark.  I kept insisting that if Mom was here, she’d fix it.  My dad kept trying to explain that Mom didn’t have any control over the electricity, and that it didn’t matter, but I was resolute.  Mom would fix it, if only she was there.  And because the universe loves to screw with people, the moment she walked in the door, wouldn’t you know it–the lights came back on like magic.  “See?” I said smugly, convinced of her mystic ability to repair all the troubles in the world.

I miss that.  I miss the security of knowing that somehow if I just had Mom, Dad and my stuffed cat, the world was in order.  There’s nothing that brings that kind of security now.  There’s always that seed of doubt.  Did I do the right thing, have I made the best choices in my life, will the world survive, if only I had done it this way… 

Baby A isn’t worried.  She’s got Mama, Papa, Oneichan (big sister) and her chicken leg, and everything’s gonna be okay.  I guess we all just have to believe that and hope for the best.

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