I had set a goal for myself this summer; get Ryder on the toilet and off his beloved choo choo. Since he has yet to sit on the toilet without screaming his head off (let alone offer up poop), I’ll direct my jubilation at the latter accomplishment.
My love/hate relationship with the pacifier began when Ryder was 2 weeks old. Possessing a strong sucking instinct, being formula fed and having a mommy with zero child rearing experience is a terrible combination (at least in this home). At first, I thought that he exhibited signs of hunger shortly after he was fed (crying, rooting, sucking on his hands). So I would quickly make another feed – only to have him fall asleep at the bottle immediately. Grrr. I hated throwing away formula, especially since I was still trying to reconcile the fact that Ryder would be going through about $30 of the stuff per week. Anyhoo, this happened at least 10 times before I realized that perhaps all he wanted was a little soothing comfort.
It was then that my mom suggested perhaps a paci was in order. So after spending about half an hour staring at an overcrowded display at Babies R Us (I used to spend half an hour trying on shoes) I finally settled on Born Free binkies. As 2008 was the year of the BPA scare, they seemed as good a choice as any.
That evening, I introduced Ryder to his silicone companion. He took to it immediately, greedily sucking away until slumber hit literally moments later. I vaguely felt like a drug dealer doling out the goods to an unsuspecting minor, but I couldn’t deny that RYDER WAS SLEEPING. Not crying, not fussing, not demanding to be rocked in my arms. S-l-e-e-p-i-n-g.
However, over the next few days, I began to obsess that he may become hooked on his choo choo. To me, it was horrifying to see 3 and 4 year olds on the playground with pacifiers hanging from their necks. It was an addiction, pure and simple. I pictured him sucking on it thoughtfully while he handled long division. Perhaps he might take one to the first day of ninth grade. And what if he wanted it on his wedding day? Could I find one to coordinate with his tux?
And then I discovered that it doesn’t actually work that way; the point of a pacifier is to provide continual sucking gratification, with the crucial element being “continual.” As in, Ryder was fully awake and rooting around for it about 2 minutes after it left his mouth. After watching him fall satisfactorily back to sleep once relinquishing the dummy, I gave up. Instead, I promised myself that the pacifier would be a sleep aid only – banned from use when Ryder was vertical.
I made good on that promise. Ryder, for just over two years (27 months to be exact), has only taken a pacifier for his afternoon nap and at bedtime. In fact, many friends and family assumed he didn’t use one as they’d never witnessed it (except for the infamous photo above – which, ironically, suggests that he would be taking one in his freshman years).
But yes, he used one, and it was his drug.
He needed it to sleep. If I tried to put him to bed without it, he’d cry “Choo choo! Choo choo!” until I’d eventually relent. And before you tsk tsk at me for giving in, I’d like to challenge any of ya’ll to spend 5 minutes with a screaming toddler. It feels like HOURS.
So he had his binky, and I had my sanity. And I waited for the right opportunity to arrive when I could pounce – crouching mama, hidden pacifier.
It happened last week. He was running around in the basement and in classic Ryder style, barreled into a stack of toys, falling face first into Mega Bloks. His upper lip was mangled – skin and blood everywhere (thank goodness we were spared a trip to the ER; it was mostly superficial and didn’t require stitches). He went into mild shock as daddy brought him upstairs to wash him off and survey the damage.
“Can you come here for a sec?” Mike called to me. Uh oh, I thought. I knew that tone.
Well, Ryder was a-okay after a Popsicle and a hug. But I sensed an opportune moment; since his lip was now a sponge for bacteria, I cringed at the idea of giving him the germ-ridden pacifier. So I sat down on his bed and explained in a calm, soft voice:
He looked at me with wide eyes as I chanted the mantra over and over. No choo choo. Boo boo. Hurt. Then Ryder repeated: “Choo choo no. Boo boo, mouth. Hurt!” I nodded.
“Okay,” he said. “Good night. Bye bye. Muah.”
And that was that. He slept through the night without a peep. I knelt at the altar of the pacifier gods and offered up Ryder’s binky for sacrifice.
The next afternoon, as I put him down for a nap, he solemnly said, “No choo choo. Boo boo. Mouth.” I nodded and gave him a HUGE hug.
Well, friends, his lip has since healed… but he seems to be under the impression that the pacifier will hurt him in some way. You know what? I don’t think I’m going to do anything to dispel that notion. Thankfully Reid wants nothing to do with a pacifier, so there isn’t a frequent reminder in his face about his beloved companion. BLISS.
BYE BYE BINKY!!!