If you live nearby and spend any time with us at all, you already know about “the shirt.” I see Ava sleeping with a t-shirt by her side well into her 20’s, maybe 30’s. But in case she decides to give it up before then, I want this to be something she remembers because it’s been one of the most important things in her life.
While we were still in China, we noticed that Ava had a fondness for the hem of her shirt. Whenever she was tired or overwhelmed, she would reach for the bottom of her shirt, wrap the hem around her index finger, and gently rub the threads between her thumb and finger while sucking her other thumb. It was especially endearing when she would use the hem on the the sleeve of the shirt I was wearing. Other kids in our group preferred to snuggle with the white hotel towels, blankets, or nothing at all, but Ava remained faithful to the shirt hem.
We got home in September and as winter approached, we started to put Ava in sleeper pajamas to keep her warm. She would scream and cry without the hem of a shirt and we didn’t know what to do. One of my proudest moments of parenthood was the day I bought over-sized t-shirts to put over her sleepers at night so she would have the hem to soothe her. IT WORKED!
Then one day, we figured out that she didn’t even have to have the shirt on her- she could hold it and be perfectly happy feeling that hem. So from that day forward, Ava has never gone to bed without a shirt for comfort. She is still rather particular about “shirt” with one of daddy’s gray shirts (any t-shirt as long as it’s gray) being the best. If a gray shirt is not available, brown, charcoal, or even yellow will suffice. My pink or blue t-shirts are still out of the question. Also, she must have a clean one each night and she prefers to go to daddy’s armoire to pick it out herself.
We have t-shirts lying all over our house. She likes to carry them around in the morning until she is fully awake. She no longer reaches for her hem when she is overwhelmed, but if she is tired, she must have “shirt” as she has affectionately named them.