Whether it’s three cups of coffee before work, a cigarette between work shifts or sleeping with a tattered baby blanket, nearly everyone’s got a crutch.
What gets Indiana University student Jackie Rubinoff through the night are her four stuffed animal cows, all named “Moo-Moo.”
She started out with one cow. What Rubinoff didn’t know was that her mother bought a second cow to replace the one she’d secretly switch out to wash.
“I couldn’t be alone for an hour while she gave Moo-Moo a bath,” Rubinoff said. “I noticed that the spots on the cow were different, but I didn’t question it until I found out there were multiple Moo-Moos.”
Stuffed animals like “Moo-Moo” serve as transitional objects for young children as they separate from their mother and begin to realize their individuality. While it’s extremely common for kids to sleep with baby blankets, is it developmentally normal for adults? Research from a 2012 survey conducted by hotel chain Travelodge found that 35 per cent of businessmen in Britain still sleep with a teddy bear to help them unwind and go to sleep, indicating that childhood security objects remain a timeless comfort.
“When I was younger I couldn’t go anywhere without her, all my baby pictures are with her,” 21-year-old Rubinoff said. “But as I got older, I started just sleeping with her instead of taking her everywhere.”
Like Linus van Pelt, the Peanuts character notorious for carrying a blue blanket around while sucking his thumb, Rubinoff feels lost without her security object.
“I couldn’t find Moo-Moo for 10 minutes the other day and I started to have a panic attack,” she said.
For Rubinoff, the stuffed cow is more than just a stuffed cow — it’s her identity.
Between her parent’s divorce, her dad’s remarriage, and the birth of her younger half-siblings, Emily Diamond, 21, says the one constant thing in her life is her baby blanket.
“When I was younger and would get stressed out, I would rub Blankie and it calmed me,” she said.
The phenomenon of security blankets is that they offer just that — security. A 2000 study published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology found that children who carried their blankets to the doctor’s office were less distressed, according to their blood pressure and heart rate.
Diamond’s yellow worn-out stress reliever’s color has faded over time. To preserve Blankie, and as a symbolic step towards adulthood, Diamond plans on framing him when she graduates from Indiana University at the end of the year.
“I’ll replace Blankie with a diploma,” she said. “Or a man.”