You know what’s really mean? Trying to take your toddler’s pacifier away. I know because I tried last night. I don’t know what came over me. I had a baby with a fever (and a double ear infection, we found out today) and still decided last night was the night to break the paci habit.
Jack was always a huge pacifier baby. He loves that thing. We slowly weaned him off it, with help from daycare, and he only uses it at bedtime now, or naptime (but not at daycare). Since he isn’t walking around with it, I haven’t worried too much about it.
But the other day I realized he had chewed the nipple off it, so it was sort of just hanging there. I had a real concern that he would gnaw it off and choke on it. I threw the pacifier away. He still had another one. Well, last night I realized THAT one was all chewed up, too. So, I decided to clip the end of it, like my pediatrician had suggested. But much like when I gave Barbie trims as a kid and suddenly she was Sinead O’Barbie, I over-trimmed paci. It was a nub.
I put Jack to bed, and gave him New And Improved Paci-Nub. He looked at it, seriously, like, “What the fuck is THIS?” He tried to suck on it. Took it out. Looked at it again. Looked at me. Cue waterworks. It was horrible.
“Mommy fix it? Fix it?”
Imagine that about 200 billion times louder, accompanied by sobs and crying for about two straight hours. While you are listening to that, you are pacing endlessly, holding a swaddled 5-month-old who cries whenever you set her down.
My poor guy. I felt like a heel. I tried to tell him he was a big boy now. Which was met with, “Mommy fix it? Blue one? Blue paci?” That would be the one I pitched. Now we just had Old Yellow Nub.
I tried to put the baby down for a minute and rock him, like when he was a baby. Through his sobs he just begged me to “fix it.” I have a lifetime of Jack knowing that I can’t fix everything. Why start with the disillusionment now, right?
He was crying SO hard. Inconsolable. And now it’s 2 hours past his bedtime, I am frazzled and wondering WHY? Who cares if he wants to sleep with his paci? What, is he going to take it to college? And seriously, so what if he does. If that’s the worst thing he does in college … . I tried to imagine if someone just came in and told me I had to go to bed without any blankets or pillows — I would be upset, and I’m (supposedly) a mature adult. Now take away a toddler’s lovey, and I just felt like it was mean.
Don’t get me wrong — I can handle cry it out. I did it with Jack, and I will do it with Genevieve when the time is right. But that’s different — that is teaching a kid to put himself to sleep. This felt like just plain cruelty, for no reason.
So, I did what any tired, emotional mom would do. I went and got Genevieve’s newborn pink paci, which she hates, and gave it to Jack. He immediately stopped crying, made me take the old one away, and was asleep before I shut his door.