One of my goals for 2011 was to wean my 2 ½-year-old daughter from her pacifier. Experts say the best time to wean is around six months. So, we’re two years late. Better late than never, right?
In my defense, I’ve known many kids who’ve had their pacies for at least as long as mine and some longer. For our family, it was time.
My daughter has now been pacifier-free for more than two weeks. But let me tell you, it wasn’t easy – for me or her.
You see, “Bobby,” as she called her beloved pacifier, had essentially become a family friend, perfectly personified in my 2 ½-year-old’s growing imagination.
Her relationship with her “bobbies” was more like what some kids have with a favorite toy or blanket. She would drift off to sleep each night with one in her mouth and one in each hand.
There are different techniques on how to rid children of their pacifiers. Some parents go cold turkey and simply take them away. Others “break” the pacifiers and tell their children they cannot be repaired.
We tried something different. We took our daughter to Build-a-Bear and had her pick out a stuffed animal that we would name “Bobby.” She chose a tiger and stuffed the bobbies inside the toy.
I didn’t expect my own torn emotions as we entered the workshop. My heart hurt. Were we deceiving our little girl by making this seem like a fun trip, when in reality, we were taking away something very precious to her?
The first test of the success of our plan came as we tucked our daughter into bed that night.
“I want Bobby!” she demanded.
We handed her the tiger.
“No!” she said, as she flung Bobby across the room.
I showed her how she could feel the bobbies inside Bobby’s tummy, and she finally settled down.
A week passed. Surprisingly, she didn’t mention Bobby. But her sleep was restless at best.
Then, the inevitable happened. I walked past her room one evening and saw none other than a bobby … in her mouth! She quickly spit out the bobby, ran to her bed and hid it under the covers.
To my dismay, Bobby the Tiger lay facedown on her mattress … alive, but barely. “Oh no!” I said, trying not to laugh. “What happened?”
My daughter hung her head. “I wanted my bobbies.”
My Facebook status that night read: Bobby the Tiger has been severely injured and left for dead. While seemingly innocent, my daughter hasn’t mentioned the “bobbies” inside the stuffed animal all week, she’s secretly been plotting his demise. The 2 1/2-year-old ripped open poor Bobby’s back with her bare hands and stole back her beloved “bobbies.”
We told our daughter we would fix Bobby and everything would be ok. And that was the end of it. That night, she slept better than ever. No crying. No screaming. She simply said goodnight and went to sleep.
Perhaps she just needed one last bobby fix.
Perhaps she just needed to say goodbye.
This column first appeared in the January 14, 2010 issue of the Mooresville Weekly.