When he was a 3 months old and we were still living in South Africa Jackson received a care package from a gaggle of my best girl friends back in the States. A “Baby Shower in a Box.” And within that delectable stash of goodies there was something, nay, someONE who would become his closest companion and best bud for the rest of his little life to date – we just didn’t know it yet.

Texy, my good friend and introduction to all things South of the Mason-Dixon line had sent him a little blanky bear. And little did I know that the South African boy and his Deep South blankie would become utterly inseperable over the next few years.

Boy meets blanket for the first time:

See how white and pristine it is – fresh out of the box and not yet subjected to years of loving the fluff and stuffing out of it:

By the time we moved back to Michigan the blankie had been dubbed “baby” by Jackson and to this day, if I drop him off at a friends, his grandparents, or at preschool – I am inevitably asked with a tremble in the voice, “Did you pack his baby?”

Folks, I always, ALWAYS do!

As a 20-month-old, freshly-arrived Michigander, baby was still on board, despite being mauled by dogs (check out the raggedy ears) and sutured up by Aunt Kim our wonderful in-house pediatrician who can work miracles with needle and thread on a mangled blankie.

Here’s Jackson the day he turned two. And the love between him and his baby is still going strong!

Four months later, in the wake of Micah’s arrival into the world one wintry Michigan afternoon, Jackson got all tired out from the excitement, visitors, and trips to the hospital and Grandma Chatty snapped him and his baby taking some down time together.

When baby Micah was all of 2 months old we packed him and Jackson up and braved the 36 hours of travel home to South Africa for my little brother’s wedding. You can read about our “nagmerrie rit” or nightmare trip here. But it was totally worth it. There was dancing and celebrating galore. And yes, you guessed it, Jackson”s baby came along for the ride. He was there to soothe the littlest groomsman to sleep when the day got too late even for the most enthusiastic partier. The music and dancing carried on all about him while he slept on in blissful oblivion.

Back, Stateside, evenings and afternoon catnaps are always accompanied by a baby. Sometimes, a baby brother. Always Texy’s original baby.

Here, take a closer look.

On all our many varied moves, baby has been the consistent companion. Only a few short weeks before Jackson turned 3 we relocated to the DC area. And, like his parents, Jackson thrives on change and embraced the new neighborhood with gusto, took long walks with his imaginary herd of cattle that had apparently also relocated from Michigan, and celebrated his 3rd birthday with a level of enthusiasm that wore even him out.

At 3 and a half, baby and Jackson have a bond practically on par with brotherhood. I mean, if baby is lying anywhere around the house, Micah will automatically pick him up and rush to find Jackson to restore baby to his rightful owner. If blood is thicker than water, where does that leave us when it comes to cotton and thread?

Tied to the hip, apparently. Because when I opened the yearbook that Jackson”s school produces and flipped to the very last page where the preschoolers are featured, my mouth dropped open as I discovered this:

Yes, that’s right friends. While every other kid is posing with the grace and flair of a young child model, my boy has abandoned the customary pose in favor of clutching his baby and looking for all the world like a young renegade forced to smile for an unfriendly camera.

And when my main man and I saw this picture we laughed so hard we wanted to cry at how fast four years have flown by. This August I know Jackson’s baby will be on hand to celebrate his turning 4. And more importantly, he will be waiting to snuggle up and catch some zzzzz’s when Jackson crashes from the inevitable sugar high that such celebrations are destined to end in.

But tell you what – if we ever did lose Jackson’s baby, I don’t know who would be more upset – me or him. Because whatever else it is, it’s a remarkable mile marker. And for that, baby, I love you like crazy!

Do your kids, your cousins, your nieces or nephews, your grandkids or yourselves have a “baby” or two that you have loved on till it was worn ragged by affection? If so, I’d sure be curious to sneak a peek. Feel free to leave me a comment about it, linking to your blog with some pictures and a story or two and I promise to drop by and visit.