This is "Maple."
A few weeks ago, while playing at Mammo's house, Boo stumbled upon what has become one of his best coping tools. This simple unassuming character used to be a knee pillow for Mammo. It is made of memory foam, and was originally covered with a removable pillowcase. Boo discovered the zipper on the case, opened it, slipped his hand inside, and fell in love! He oooh'd and ahhh'd and marveled at the feel of it. He quickly removed the pillow case and proclaimed "I like how this feels, Mammo. I could just feel it all day." That evening he brought it home with him, and it has been his companion ever since.
He likes to get it out when he needs a bit of extra sensory input or when he feels particularly upset. He likes to squeeze it, smoosh it, push it into his chin, and hug it. Suddenly this morning, he began doing something new. He suddenly decided to anthropomorphize it! He gave it the name "Maple." He started giving it drinks of his juice and bites of his cereal. He began talking to it. He asked if he could take it to school. Considering the recent difficulties he has had, I thought this would be an excellent idea. I told him that he would have to leave Maple in his cubby during school, but that if he started to feel sad or upset or nervous, he could ask Mrs. K for a few minutes to "squeeze maple." He was excited about this plan.
When we arrived at the classroom, Boo was thrilled to show every classmate, Mrs. K, and several of the other moms his new find. He walked up to each of them and announced "This is my friend Maple. I like to squeeze him when I feel sad or nervous." He then stowed Maple in his cubby and sat down to stretch rubber bands onto a pegboard with his classmates. I was astounded at the change since last Friday! He never once argued with me about going to school. He never gave me a moment of trouble. Apparently he had a bit of trouble following the rules at school, but he didn't seem overly concerned about it. (usually all it takes is one stern word from the teacher to send him home broken hearted and declaring his hatred for school)
Tonight we had our first family BBQ of the season. (My family on my dad's side have a tradition of getting together one night each week during the summer for a BBQ/potluck meal, and it's one of my absolute favorite things about the season!) Boo didn't want to go, of course. He never does, though he always has a great time once we get there. To make matters worse, Dad made the cardinal mistake of starting an episode of one of Boo's favorite shows (Billy the Exterminator) just before time to leave, without enough time for Boo to finish the episode before we had to leave. Because he was already starting a fit, I figured I'd better toss Maple in the car too.
Surprisingly, I didn't have hardly any trouble from Boo the entire evening. There was one moment, when it was time to eat, that he started to put up a fight. I suggested that he might want to go get Maple out of the car. He said no, then immediately huffed to the car and retrieved it. He then proceeded to introduce it once again to everyone present as "my friend Maple." He then set it on the table, and never again picked it up till we came home. He never gave me another moment of trouble the entire evening. So, while Maple may be a friend to Boo, he has suddenly become MY bff!
Update: A couple days after writing this blog post, I was watching Spiderman and his Amazing Friends with Boo. He watches episodes of this series by himself frequently. The episode we watched had a story of a lonely old man who was accidentally given special powers to make anything happen that he wanted. One of the first things he did was create for himself a friend who would never leave him. The friend was a cat, and it's name was Mable. Light bulb ON!