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Winning the pacifier war

June 22, 2012

My daughter has had an intense, rapturous love affair with the pacifier for the past 2 and-a-half years. I’m certain that if the world were ending and she had the choice to keep for herself either Mommy or her bee-bees (her word for pacifier), she would choose the bee-bees any day of the week. I try not to take it personally.

It has amazed me how much comfort and contentment she has enjoyed from these little plastic trinkets since the very beginning of her life. I remember the day she was born; I held her in the hospital with that giant green pacifier that seemed to nearly swallow her tiny face.

Now, when I place her in her crib and put the pacifier in her outstretched hand, she pops it in with a sigh of utter relief. Her whole body sinks into relaxation as she sucks away and drifts off to sleep. It melts my heart a little to see her so peaceful and fulfilled.

She’s even become a bit of a hoarder- she wants one for her mouth and one to hold in each hand as well. “Five, Momma. Need five bee-bees,” she says. Clearly, we have a little ways to go with the counting thing.

But, alas all good things must come to an end, and last week it was time for the bee-bees to go bye-bye. I’ve known for a little while that the time had come. The pacifier had become a source of constant frustration. Instead of using it only for naptime and nighttime, there was whining and temper tantrums and manipulation (mostly from the 2-year-old, but I’m guilty, too). But, I waited until she finished preschool for the year. After all, her preschool teachers are wonderful ladies; they don’t deserve to become casualties of this impending battle.

In preparation, I started talking to her about how big girls don’t have bee-bees. She said she wanted to be a big girl, so I told her we could give the bee-bees away to a little baby who needed them. She also asked me a few times for a scooter that she’d seen in the store. I told her that only big girls ride scooters, and when she was ready to be a big girl she could have one.

Friday was the day, so I bought cupcakes and balloons to celebrate, wrapped up the scooter and hid it outside. This was one of those times where as the parent, you make sure to act cool, calm and confident in front of your kid. But, secretly you’re dripping beads of sweat and crossing your fingers that this actually works. I’m not gonna lie. I was afraid.

We decorated the house with balloons, and after dinner we collected all of the pacifiers from around the house. We put them safely in a box to be “given away.” (Truth: they are still sitting on a shelf in my closet because I was too chicken to actually throw them away.)

Excited, she searched for her new scooter and was thrilled to find it was pink, just as she had hoped. She rode her scooter around the driveway well past her bedtime, and we enjoyed cupcakes. Well, Daddy and I enjoyed cupcakes; she dove into the  icing then dumped the cake in the grass. She also sang “Happy Birthday” to herself. Cupcakes, just made sense I guess.

And then the moment of truth- bedtime. It wasn’t pretty. This was the first time in her entire life that she had to go to sleep without the pacifier. She cried and cried, and we comforted her at intervals, but didn’t give in. She was able to go to sleep after about an hour or so, and we haven’t looked back since.

Surprisingly, being without the pacifier has brought so much peace to our house during the day. No more whining and begging for the pacifier; she doesn’t even think about it most of the time. We’ve given various other little rewards for the times that she’s gone to sleep without crying, and she’s making more progress every day.

But last night, as we prepared for our bedtime routine, she looked intently at me. She knows now that asking for the pacifier is a lost cause. But, she’s a sneaky one, and she tried to maneuver it another way.

“Mommy, I not like my scooter anymowa. Not want it.”

Sorry, honey. There’s no turning back now.

Have your kids had a love affair with the pacifier? How did you decide to break the habit?