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Stories, observations, and reflections from a life of raising boys

The Secret Way I Tell My Son “I love you”

Jenifer DeMattia

I’ll never forget the day of my baby shower. The excitement of my first child my first son. Friends and family provided me with so much love and so many gifts for my little guy. But I was huge, uncomfortable, and found myself focusing on opening everything quickly so I could get up from the hard wooden rocking chair and get home to my couch and giant maternity pajamas. I smiled and read each card out loud. I thanked everyone, and piled everything in the car. I cried all the way home. I was overwhelmed with emotion as well as the physical pain caused from carrying what I was sure to be a giant growing in my stomach.

I had no idea at the time what a tremendous affect one of those gifts would have on my son. At around 9 months, it was clear that only one blanket was allowed in my boys crib. He would stop crying when I placed it near him and he would weave his tiny fingers through its yarn for comfort. It took us a while to understand that around 20 months he was telling us its name. Nee-Nee. His version of the word blanket came out as Nee-Nee. Or perhaps it was just the name he had chosen on his own for his first true love.

Nee-Nee has been our savior on so many occasions, and has caused me so much frustration on others. Handing my son his blanket could heal most of his wounds.  He would actually rejoice at the sight of it. His eyes danced as Nee-Nee moved closer to him and you could see his body relax at its touch. Just contact with this object made him whole. But there have been so many times that in a rush, Nee-Nee was left behind, and what was supposed to be a nice outing quickly became a horrible nightmare. I have driven back 20, 30, 40 miles just to retrieve that blanket. I have had the blanket shipped back to us, and handed back to me by strangers who saw it fall from my stroller.

But the biggest issue with Nee-Nee is that the rumor about boys just happens to be very true. My son is the ultimate magnet for dirt and he has taken Nee-Nee to some scary places. His blanket has been dragged on the grocery store floor. It’s been to the beach, through the mud, and deepest of puddles. It’s been covered in leaves, hair, and whatever other muck is lying about. It’s been on a plane, a train, and a hundred elevators. It’s been drooled on, snotted on, and used as a bandage for practically every booboo. Nee-Nee has seen life through the eyes of a now 5-year-old boy, and it gets so disgusting. But every time I would try to wash the blanket my son would cry. He told me Nee-Nee did not like to be washed and that it made him sad.

Now as mothers we each have our secret ways of telling our children that we love them, which they’ll never know of or understand. It could be making their favorite meal, or as simple as rubbing their hair a certain way as they run by. Mine is washing Nee-Nee.

I have tried many brands of detergent and stain removers. It was very difficult to find a product that made Nee-Nee white again, as it had turned a tinge brownish after years spent with a young boy. But at last I have found a detergent that actually made me go, “Wow”. I couldn’t believe that although Nee-Nee's yarn is pulled and frayed, OxiClean™ Laundry detergent turned it back to its original white. It’s an all-in-one solution that can be used on all of your laundry* to help remove stains, brighten your colors & whites and leave a long lasting freshness. It also helps save you time since it can help you get out tough, dried-on stains the first time.!

Nee-Nee has become another part of our family in a sense. We talk about it, always make sure it’s with us, and we take care of it. And just like I wouldn’t use any product on my son that I didn’t feel was the best, we give Nee-Nee the same kind of love. So on some evenings, I sneak into my son’s room, slowly pull away his dearest friend from his side and I wash it with the only detergent I now swear by. I dry it. Sneak back in, and place his warm, fresh Nee-Nee by his sweet side. And I reminisce about the baby shower I had and the anticipation of his birth. He may not have been born a giant, but the love I feel for him certainly does feel pretty enormous. And the love he feels inside him when holds that blanket, surely is tremendous as well.

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by OxiClean™ through their partnership with POPSUGAR Select. While I was compensated to write a post about OxiClean™ Laundry, all opinions are my own.

 * Please follow manufacturer directions for your garments. For best results, pretreat stains with laundry detergent, wait 5-10 minutes and then wash.

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