Have you ever had the pleasure of showing up to a restaurant, asking 'for one?' and having the waitress pass you a pitying look? You square your shoulders, pass it off and order a glass of wine. A Japanese chain, Moomin Cafe, seats a teddy—based on the popular picture books from Finland—at the table of every solo guest. Who knew that adults still took comfort from teddies? Tell us the truth... do you still have one? Mine is called ‘Merlin’. If you do, don't feel bad; according to a survey by Travelodge 35% of British adults sleep with a teddy while away on trips!
Attachment theory may suggest that we still need our teddies. Originally only thought to apply to babies, it was extended to grown-ups in the 1980s. The theory proposes that we are wired for connection—we all need an affectional bond. In babies, there are three different attachment styles as described by Mary Ainsworth: secure, anxious-avoidant (insecure), and anxious-ambivalent (insecure). A secure affectional bond is displayed in children who can explore areas and meet strangers, yet like best the company of their caregiver. An anxious-avoidant child shows no response towards the caregiver, and may treat a stranger with equal affection as to the caregiver. Lastly, an anxious-ambivalent child will be unable to cope with the departure of the caregiver, yet upon return will act angry. The child is always preoccupied with the caregiver’s presence because it is usually unpredictable. When children are developing from needing a caregiver all the time to being able to soothe themselves they very often use what Donald Winnicott, a British pediatrician and psychoanalyst, called a 'transitional object'. Yes, you guessed it: a favourite teddy or blanket.
Most of us agree: we need a honest, strong relationship with others to be happy and fulfilled; that connection is vital to our success. Sometimes it just so happens that this can only be provided by our dependable, non-judgemental, friendly, stuffed animal. Kudos to Moomin Cafe for being bold enough to embrace this and give us what we actually desire: a hot coffee in the afternoon with an amiable companion.