I recently received a copy of the book Dirty Wow Wow and Other Love Stories: A tribute to the threadbare companions of childhood by Cheryl and Jeffrey Katz. I must admit, I was intrigued by the title and the concept of the book which is published by Ten Speed Press. You see, this book is about those tattered, torn and dirty bears and blankets to which kids (and adults) become so attached. The book contains photos of fifty different love objects and shares the stories behind them.
Gonks. Eee Eee. Smooch. These are just some of the transitional objects featured in the book. What is a transitional object you might be wondering? The term "transitional object"was coined by Donald Woods Winnicott. In essence, a transitional object is an object that children become attached to as they go through the process of separation-individuation. Huh? You see, infants feel as though they and their mother are one for the first several months of their lives. As they grow and begin to explore, they begin to realize that they are NOT a part of their mother, but rather are a separate individual. This can be anxiety producing for some kids, e.g., "how will I stay safe without my mom?" As a result, some children turn to bears or a blanket as a pseudo mother in times of need, i.e., bedtime, new situations, etc. A number of developmental assessments actually have the use of a transitional object as a component when looking at a toddlers coping skills.
The authors of Dirty Wow Wow effectively capture the essence of the intense relationships children develop with these objects and how, for some, the relationship carries on into adulthood. One of the authors, Cheryl Katz, was recently interviewed on NPR where she shared one of her favorite stories with the host. You can listen to it here.
The book is a quick read, but what it lacks in girth it makes up for with heart with stories that warmed mine. Some photos made me wonder how the objects survived while others made me wonder how such a creepy looking object (such as Clowny) could become the object of a child's affection.
This is probably a book that I would have overlooked on the bookshelf of the local bookstore. Fortunate for me, circumstance brought the book to me. It brought a smile to my face and made me chuckle out loud on more than one occasion. It made me reflect on my own childhood Dirty Wow Wow (an equally creepy Mrs. Beasley doll). This book would make a great gift for a parent who is concerned about their little ones attachment to their Dirty Wow Wow helping them to understand the true attachment that kids develop. It would also make a nice gift for a mom-to-be as a part of a gift basket or maybe to a child moving out of the home for the first time with their own Dirty Wow Wow.
Do you have a Dirty Wow Wow? If you do, you could win a one-of-a-kind, handmade stuffed animal, a "Show me your Dirty Wow Wow" t-shirt and a copy of the book! You can enter the "Show us your Dirty Wow Wow Contest here.
I've shown you mine...now show me yours :)