Familiarity Never Breeds Contempt

Familiarity Never Breeds Contempt

GARY POPE 23.07.2014 10 MINS

As the knock came at the door, at 6:12pm, Laurence started bawling. He’d been expecting it.

Screaming his 5 year old little heart out he was. It was that forlorn, lost-in-desperate-despondence kind of crying. The one where the breath gets labored and the shoulders heave as you grapple uncontrollably with the need for self-control.

The source of this primal grief?

A table. A normal, average, Wednesday afternoon, wooden, dining room table. Slightly bruised and with some superficial markings but a good sturdy table it should nonetheless be said.

Table Attachment

It was old and so we’d put our table on eBay and managed to get someone to take it away for a fiver. Over the moon we was. Not Laurence. That table had been a part of his life…since birth. You could almost map his developmental milestones on the grooves, scratches and paint stains…

He’d climbed on it as a baby.

Hit his head on the corner as a toddler.

Scribbled on it as a pre-schooler.

Done his homework on it when he started school.

And of course eaten around it with his family at least once every single day of his life. It was an important table.

At 6:28pm the table snatchers closed our front door and were gone.  In 16 minutes his world had been turned upside down. Laurence peeked round the top of the stairs all puffy-eyed and made his way down, step-by-step, still sniffing.

A New Dawn...

 We sat down to dinner around a shiny new table and as the food arrived it was as if the sun had broken through the storm clouds. There were smiles and everything in the world was good again.

Whether Bowlby would find anything in this attachment to a table I don’t know. But there is something very significant happening here. Children attach to things very, very easily but it is rarely the article itself and instead the memories created through interaction with the said article that are important.

It’s the emotional resonance that the item carries, the stability it brings to a world that is fluid in the young. For Laurence it was the safety, security and familiarity of all those experiences at the table that delivered all that emotional resonance.

But if you stop to think for a moment about the things that you love and wouldn’t want someone to take away from you, I reckon at least half of them have no face value at all. But they are, of course, priceless.

Next week we have to replace Laurence’s wardrobe…

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