Giraffe Envy

Giraffe Envy


My 3-year-old won’t go anywhere without “Jaa-Jaa” — the giraffe/blankie she’s had since birth. Jaa-Jaa smells like Parmesan cheese. He has a couple holes. One of his ears is missing. She doesn’t care. We bought another Jaa-Jaa as a back-up in case she dropped the “real” Jaa-Jaa in the toilet or something, but he’s useless. She can easily tell the real one from the imposter.

Over the years, Jaa-Jaa has become like a member of our family. He goes everywhere with us: Costco, the grocery store, the dentist. He’s been to three different states, including Florida where he went to Disney World and had his picture taken with Donald Duck. He’s in EVERY family photo, even the professional ones we take once a year. There are only two places we forbid Jaa-Jaa to go: the bathtub and the plastic tub of water in our backyard that we refer to as a “pool.”

Don’t worry, Jaa-Jaa, I’ll be right back

When my daughter takes a bath, Jaa-Jaa waits on the floor nearby. When she goes in the pool, she sets him up in the window overlooking the backyard so he can watch her. She places a chair under him in case he slips and falls, and sets out a cup of tea for when he gets thirsty. She even closes the shutters so he doesn’t feel a draft. Before she leaves, she hugs and kisses him for, like, five minutes. Don’t worry, Jaa-Jaa, she whispers. I’ll be right back. 

This is the same girl who pinches her sweet brother when he tries to hug her, kicks and screams when I cut her grapes the wrong way and has been known to bite for no reason. I’m pretty certain that if our family were in danger, she’d save Jaa-Jaa before she helped any of us.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad my daughter has something to comfort her when she needs comforting. Jaa-Jaa is there for her when I can’t be: during nap time at daycare and sleepovers at grandma and grandpa’s house, for example. Yet I can’t help but be a little jealous of Jaa-Jaa. I know it sounds ridiculous. I’m jealous of a stinky cotton blankie with a giraffe head. The truth is, Jaa-Jaa is more than a piece of fabric. He’s something my daughter adores. He’s a soft, fluffy anchor she holds tight to now, but will someday, inevitably, let go.

Until that day comes though (and long after it, I suspect), I will compete fiercely for her love and attention — no matter how hard she pinches or bites.

In her happy place.
Jaa-Jaa and Gwen meet Donald Duck, neither is too impressed.

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