Helen and the Pacifier

On this blog, there are several pictures of Helen using a pacifier. For many parents, a pacifier is something of a godsend, while some see it as a necessary evil, and for others it's just plain evil. I can actually see all sides of the argument. From the day Helen was born, I actually encouraged her to take the pacifier, and she did very well with it. The first couple of months of an infant's life are typically fraught with gas pains and sleepless nights, and to top it off we had an early delivery, so if there's one thing she could take comfort in, I gladly provided it.

A friend gave us the pacifier as a gift in a bag full of baby stuff. It's a style of pacifier that I'd never seen before, and have spent Helen's entire life tracking down replacements at Target. Sort of a butterfly shape, it looked far too big on her as a baby. For a short time, she preferred it upside down. She eventually grew into it, and needed it more often than not. Especially on car rides, that pacifier became a crucial component of our lives. Everything comes to a screeching halt when you look for a pacifier. Not having it usually means a crying fit until it's located. But when that crying stops - ah, what bliss.

In January, Helen moved up to a new room at her daycare. It's a little early for this transition to a full-blown toddler room, but I've requested it because Helen is talking A LOT, and also eating with a spoon. It may not sound like much to anyone except her proud parents, but these two skills put her well ahead of her entire class. I wanted to make sure she was in a room full of kids already doing the same things.

As a bonus, it's a room full of new kids to teach her fire-alarm pulling skills.

But very quickly, we had a run-in with the teachers over the pacifier. It turns out that in the baby rooms, Helen got her pacifier at naptime, and at "stressful" times during the day. Essentially if she asked for it, her teachers gave it to her. I picked her up every evening and 4 days out of 5, she'd have it.

In the new room, however, it's a rule in our state that kids can't walk around with pacifiers. They can have them at naptime, but that's it. Because I let her have it at home as much as she wants, it was tough to go to daycare and play by different rules. Frankly, I was pretty skeptical about this law. But I sighed and made the effort to change it up this weekend. We put the pacifier away at a time in the morning when she wasn't looking for it, and kept it hidden all day except for her naptime and bedtime. Two days in a row. I was fearing the worst.

She didn't even notice.

I'm serious. It's like, "Pacifier? I didn't need it that much. Whatever, mom."

I remember the pacifier song she sang every night as an infant as I rocked her to sleep - holding it up, singing to it, then putting it back in her mouth, sometimes continuing to hum a little with it in her mouth. (My mom said I did the same thing as a baby.) Or when Helen wasn't quite through giving me grief over something, but she had the paci in her mouth - she'd sort of grunt and fuss behind it. Oh, how I laughed at that early version of backtalk.

When she's crying, it's so easy to hand her something that stops the crying 95% of the time. Do you have anything that works so well in your life? Don't you wish you did, just a little bit?

Maybe I'll have a harder time letting go of the pacifier than Helen will.

No comments: