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The Great Pacifier Debate

March 7, 2011

Thing 2 is kicking an addiction.  There are no 12 step programs for her problem, no Anonymeetings, no awareness raising campaigns. Thing 2 has a monkey on her back, and that monkey is a dark mistress whose name is pacifier.

Thing 2 loves her pacifier, for clarification she calls it her pacifier – not a Nuk, Ba, Paci or Dummy for my kiddo.  The Hubs and I have been enabling her addiction for almost two and a half years now.  Thing 2 is a very strong willed child, if she wants something or doesn’t want to do something you ask of her she is very loud and unrelenting.  It is so much easier to pop a pacifier in her mouth than it is to reason with her.  Was this the best child rearing technique? Probably not… I never claimed to be Mother of the Year, but sometimes I just want peace and quiet…is that so wrong?

Around her 2nd birthday I began thinking it was time to start getting rid of the pacifiers.  Why the arbitrary number two?  She was starting to talk a lot more and I was worried it would affect her speech.  We also got Dopey the dog shortly after her  birthday. What does Dopey have to do with Thing 2’s pacifier?  Puppies, much like babies, put EVERYTHING they can find in their mouths. Thing 2 was generous in her “sharing” with the new pup… toys, dolls, food, and yes, even the Dark Mistress of Suck.  Now remember, I am far from being labeled a germaphobe (see previous post) but that  grossed even me out.   The Mistress had to go.

Thing 1 stopped wanting hers around 5 months old and became a thumb sucker instead.  When this started, the Hubs and I freaked a bit.  Of course, the visions of buck teeth mixed with flashbacks of braces and retainers had us both in a tizzy.  The Hubs suggested taking her thumb away but I thought that would pose a problem with, say, writing her name come Kindergarten.  A year or so ago, my Mom and Aunt came out to visit us in New Jersey, where they treated Thing 1 and I to a lovely girls day in NYC. After manicures and shopping, we decided to refuel with some lunch.  Thing 1 was pretty tired by this time and started to put her newly pink and bedazzled thumb into her mouth,  suddenly she made the same face she did when trying peas for the first time and said “Mommy it tastes yucky”.  When I offered her the choice to take off the nail polish or stop sucking her thumb, my lover of all things girlie, slave to fashion,  opted for pretty nails-she never sucked her thumb again.  Forget my previous statement- I am Mother of the Year!

I had no idea where to start the process of ditching this thing, so I did what every modern mommy does, I combed the internet for articles, tips and suggestions.  There were a myriad of different ideas out there.  There was the cold turkey methodology, you take them away and the kid just has to deal it.  I’m not an overly coddling parent by nature but that seemed kind of cruel to me.  What if someone tried that with my coffee or Diet Cokes?  There would be hell to pay for sure!  I pictured my cherubic 2 year old strung out on the mean city streets trying to score “just one suck”…not a pretty picture.  The pacifier fairy was another popular option-kind of like the tooth fairy but the kid trades her pacis for a toy of her choice.  Good in theory but it turns out that Thing 2 isn’t very materialistic, yet.  To every toy I offered her in exchange for the pacifier she simply replied “No thank you”.  There are numerous books and videos on the subject, from professionals weighing in to happy little stories of pacifier free barnyard animals.   I too got sucked in and shelled out $16 for “No More Pacifiers for Piggy” – a cute story about a pig and a duck who are playing hide and go seek and the pacifier keeps getting in the way of their good time, Piggy finally decides he would rather play with Ducky than have his pacifier (let me tell you it was a nail biter).  The last page shows Piggy with a huge non-pacified smile with the caption “No more pacifiers for Piggy!”.  I read Thing 2 the book, theatrically building the excitement till the climax when Thing 1 and I cheered  “No more pacifier for Thing 2!”, she looked at us as if we just offered her a spinach flavored cupcake  and said “No thank you”.

Next stop on the advice train was my mother.  Now I pointed out that I don’t coddle too much, my mother makes me look like an overprotective psychopath-she is hardcore no nonsense.  Her advice was “She will scream for one night and be over it”.  I pointed out that Thing 1 and Thing 2 were supposed to be sleeping at grandma’s and grandpa’s house that night-to which my mother exclaimed “Are you freaking nuts!?  I’m done dealing with such craziness.  I finally get to play good cop”.  So much for taking one for the team Mom.  I researched and debated and bored my Facebook friends with status updates such as “three hours without the pacifier-I’m so proud of you Thing 2!”.  I can’t confirm but I do believe there was a lot of “un-friending” going on that day.  And then one day something magical happened.  I ignored it and it went away…

Thing 2 had a particularly long day and fell asleep on the living room floor.  I carried her to bed and tucked her in without the pacifier.  She didn’t wake up in the middle of the night looking for it, she didn’t ask for it the next morning either.  I mentioned this to The Hubs and told him I was just going to try and go with it…he called me mean.  I told him to bite me.  If all these types of decisions were left to him our kids would enter college with pacifiers, bottles and in diapers.  Thing 2 asked for the pacifier a few times but mostly we just ignored the subject and gave her something else to do or play with-thank the baby Jesus for short toddler attention spans!

So the kiddo has 14 days in now, and it looks like we may be home free-another superhuman feat of parenting accomplished, by doing absolutely nothing.

Now if the same idea would work for Mommy and chocolate…

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