24 November 2010

Suck On This

It was time.

The Doozer's second birthday had come and gone. The pediatrician had advised us that we should take it away by his second birthday. We'd managed to limit its usage, restrict it to the crib, but it remained a fixture of naps and bedtimes, a miniature, rubberized security blanket. Which, my wife had noticed, was beginning to make our son's small teeth . . . protrude. And as committed, hipster parents, there was no way we could raise a buck-toothed child, a slack-jawed yokel with a crooked set of hillbilly teeth.

No, it was time. To take away the dreaded binky.

Apparently, some kids don't even take to pacifiers, never start using them in the first place. Some kids, however, completely fetishize the damn things. We often see kids in public, who appear to be significantly older than the Doozer in some cases, glassy-eyed and sucking away, as though their lips are wrapped around a tiny crack pipe. I hate to criticize other parents that I don't know personally—wait, no, I don't. Not at all. I revel in it. Your kid is too old to have a binky in public! What is wrong with you exactly?

There. I feel a little better.

Weeks (maybe months) earlier, we stopped giving it to him in the car (he never got it out in the real world, at least since he graduated from an infant car seat). We got this book about a piggy and his pacifier, illustrating the joys of a binky-less existence to encourage binky relinquishing, even changing the word from pacifier to binky as we read it. If we'd said pacifier, the Doozer would not have gotten the message.

As it is, I still don't think he did. Not entirely.

We set a date. A deadline. In advance of his two-year doctor appointment (my wife couldn't bear to face her with the news that we'd failed to heed her suggestion). There are different schools of thought on this, different approaches to take. Gradually cutting off the tip of the binky, until eventually the kid is just sucking air and then they give it up themselves, for one.

In the end, we just went for it. A completely gonzo move on our part, which we almost immediately realized was incredibly misguided. We'd talked it up for at least a week. We chose to do it Halloween weekend and made this deal with the Doozer. If he left his binky on the front porch in a plastic pumpkin, the Great Pumpkin (of Charlie Brown fame), would take it away and replace it with a very special new toy. He seemed okay with it. He went through the whole ritual, put the binky in the plastic pumpkin and went on with his evening.

But here's the thing. In hindsight, no preparation seems like it would have been enough. We made an egregious miscalculation. Learn from our mistakes. We did it on a Friday night on a holiday weekend when we had a full schedule of activities for several days. This was not the way to go. Avoid major activities. Understand that this is going to be an ordeal. You won't want to do anything else until the storm is over.

That kid will wail like a banshee. Unmerciful. It will be taxing, emotional. The sound of that cry will act as a sense memory, transporting you back to the sleepless nights during the early weeks and months of your kid's life. Right back to where you think you'll never sleep through the night again and then begin to wonder how you will possibly function in the harsh, unforgiving light of day.

Trust us. Try the gradual approach. Snip the tip. And also know that a remote-controlled train, no matter how cool you might think it is, cannot take the place of a beloved binky.

And so we become convinced that he's going to grow up and hate us. Pierce his tongue and start listening to Megadeth. But then, a week later, we're almost back to normal. Or as normal as life can be with a two year-old. We appear to have weathered the storm of a binky-less life. And come out relatively unscathed on the other side.

Then I remember. We had this game, the Doozer and me. The binky has this handle-type thing on one side, for easy gripping. I can no longer recall how this started, but I would put that handle between my teeth and the Doozer would grab it and pull. I'd struggle for a moment, a tug-of-war would ensue, and eventually I would let it out of the grip of my teeth and fall backward or collapse on the ground. It's kind of hard to explain, but the result isn't: uncontrollable fits of giggling. It was one of the Doozer's favorite games. Our own private, weird little thing. But now, I don't remember the last time we did it, because at the time, I didn't realize it was the last time.

This is the truth about parenthood. Sometimes it can be sad. You feel nostalgic over almost everything that happens with your kid. Like Max in Kicking and Screaming, "I'm nostalgic for conversations I had yesterday." Especially Doozer conversations. Time is fleeting. Memories will fade. It's possible he's already forgotten this little game of ours.

But I hope I never forget it.

1 comment:

  1. Binky is a brand name and should be capitalized.

    signed: The Binky Police