Both of my children rejected the stuffed-toy-comfort most children get attached to as infants. While other children usually have a blankie, or a bear or a bunny, mine bonded with their pillows. Morgan was about two years old when her toddler’s legs took her over to a wire bin at Home Depot. She reached in through the bottom wire square and latched onto two fluffy pillows. One was lilac and the other was hot pink. Mike and I couldn’t even see them until we moved all the other contents of the bin. She would not let them go. Eleven years later, she still sleeps on that hot pink fluff every night.
Jude’s tastes run more basic. His pillow is a basic rectangular foam pillow. He calls it, Pilly. It is and has always been gross because, from the day he latched onto it, Jude refused to let me put a pillow case on it. Pilly started ripping a long long time ago. I would sit and hand stitch the threadbare torn bits together, Jude anxiously watching to make sure I could make it work. I’ve stitched that stupid pillow more times than I care to count.
About four months ago the unimaginable happened. Pilly tore, irreparably. It was so threadbare, I was unable to mend it. Jude was devastated… but undeterred; he still loved Pilly, and he would not abandon him. The pillow lasted another three months. The stuffing started coming out, and I would find, Pilly Innards all over the house. There was a massive hole in the middle of the pillow, and Jude would sleep with his head through the hole. So dangerous, I would rage, disgusting contaminated garbage, I’d plead. But I did not insist that he throw it away— I have lived with this little human for ten years… I know how to deal with him.
Many many tears were shed over his beloved, Pilly. He mourned that little pillow. Then one night, a few weeks ago, I saw that Pilly was on the floor, and not on the bed. To anyone else, it would resemble a pile of dirty stuffing loosely held together by grey rags. To me, that pile of crap looked like a small victory.
“I see, Pilly is on the floor tonight?” I said with caution.
“Yes. I think it’s time I choose another pillow.” I looked over at the other four pillows I have been placing on his bed for almost a year, hoping he’ll make the transition.
“Okay, which one are you going to choose?” I don’t make any suggestions. I know better.
“Well, I guess I’ll have to choose between these two; they feel very different.” Jude picks up both and offers me a feel. One’s a foam pillow, the other is a feather pillow. “I wish I could just have Pilly. Are you sure we couldn’t mend it?”
“No.” I’m not about to have that conversation again.
“Okay. Well, I’ve decided that since I can’t have, Pilly, and I absolutely have to choose between these two, I’ve going to call this one (the lumpy foam pillow), Donald Trump. And this one (the flimsy feather pillow), Hillary Clinton.”
Now, in case you think I’m making this up, I’ll give you another example of how bizarre my son is: at eight years old, Jude had an anxiety episode which lasted several weeks based on his absolute certainty that the world (as in the earth.. humanity as a whole) was not ready for flying cars. He was brought to tears every morning while we were driving to school. He would look out the window and say, “I’m sorry mom, I know you don’t want me to talk about it anymore, but I can’t help it. I’m just so worried about it… Flying cars would be a terrible invention…” And the conversation would go south quickly, and his reasoning would be intuitive but completely bonkers. And after several weeks, the morning car ride would end with him crying and me swearing.
So when Jude introduced me to Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, my natural response was horror. Here we go again, I thought. We had a good laugh, Jude and I, and then I said, “let’s give them other names? How about names that you don’t feel so strongly about… how about Fred and Wilma? Or, Phineas and Ferb?” No, he was very unhappy about having to choose a new pillow, so the names fit perfectly to his way of thinking.
Jude got very involved with the American Presidential election last year. While we are definitely not Clinton fans in this house, Trump’s win confounded my son. His choice would have been nobody— how about they just stick with Obama for a bit more, Mom? He’s not great, but he’s not a bad person. I know, Jude, I said, but you know… it’s not all that important to us, so let’s not talk about it anymore okay? Not okay… American Presidents are an ongoing sore point in our house.
The saga of the Presidential Pillows has reached full velocity in our house. What if I end up choosing Donald Trump, mom? Then I will be making the same mistake the American’s have made. No, Jude… it’s not the same. But If I choose, Hillary… then I might end up hating the pillow, after all, when I sleep with it, the feathers go into the corners and my head ends up flat on the bed. That’s really bad for my neck!
Last night, I climbed into my bed and heard myself call out, “Jude, you’ve left Donald Trump in my room!” You laugh, but it made me go cold.
Interestingly, Jude insists on keeping the pillow cases on these new trial pillows— they don’t smell good yet, he says. (Disgusting right? He prefers the smell of his pillow… his sweat and hair oils are comforting to him.)
Jude has been diagnosed with a borderline generalised anxiety disorder. He’s just a bit of a thinker, like his Mama. Except he takes his thinking epic distances, leading to emotional outbreaks. The downside is that I have to talk him off the ledge a lot. The upside is the reams of material I have to write about. I mean, I couldn’t make this shit up… the truth is definitely stranger than fiction.