I am a happily married mama with three little ladies. I am a teacher, a poet, a playwright. I live on a tiny island in the Pacific Northwest and write babybythesea.net often, or at least when I'm not making espresso or sneaking chocolate.

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The Pacifier Junkie

Like a good addict, she puts off quitting until tomorrow. When tomorrow comes, she promises with hands crossed that tomorrow will definitely be the day. If we go out to eat, she stashes one in her pocket. Just. In. Case, she says with quiet, guilty breath. She’s got one hidden in the secret hole by her seat in the car, and four or five more stashed under her pillow. Might need ‘em, Mama, she says with quiet, guilty breath

At first, I thought it was peer pressure. But, none of her friends are into them anymore. It’s really the younger crowd. She’s not afraid what people think; she’ll use anywhere.
Sadly, our other two daughters were the same way, although our eldest quit cold turkey. We cut the tip of the pacifier one day and Betty was done. Oh well, paph-ier broken. Me so sad, said Betty as she moved on to loving her stuffed pig, Wilbur. We cut the tips of our middle daughter’s pacifiers and it seemed to make absolutely no difference to her. Lucy would have sucked on the plastic end until her teenage years if we hadn’t intervened. For days we visited our local toy store and coveted the stuffed animals for sale. She fell in love with a black kitty we said was way too much money. At the end of the week, we told Lucy we’d found out she could trade all her pacifiers for it. Promptly, we walked down to adopt Pa-phy Kitty. Lucy still sleeps with hands clutched to the kitty’s paw.

We’ve told Olive about all the babies in the world that need pacifiers and how happy she could make them by placing her giant pile in the mailbox. We’ve spoken about a fairy that leaves presents for little ones who leave out their pacifiers over night. She’s heard about trading them in at our toy store, but says, I have lots of toys, Mama. No thank you trade pa-phy.

Sometime between sunrise with the frogs singing at the across-the-street pond and coffee pot’s automatic brew amidst robin’s morning chirp, we decided to tell Olive she’d no longer have her pacifier unless she was in her bed. She cried for six solid hours. At naptime, she sat on her tiny mattress and said, All-ive no sleep! Love my pa-phies! I took her on a minivan ride to the valley of our island and finally, she stopped screaming. I looked in the rearview mirror to see that she’d found a hidden pacifier in car seat’s cup holder. Look, Mama. See?! All-ive love pa-phy

After a full day of tears, I just can’t be the one to break her heart. Maybe since she’s my third child it leaves me a bit vulnerable, but I can’t be the one to take what she loves most away and I certainly can’t go about my day with that much crying. Maybe someday soon we’ll meet in the middle with a bucket full of pacifiers tossed into the sea (or an inflatable baby pool) with a wish, like pennies into a fountain. Or, maybe we’ll talk enough about all this and she’ll make the decision on her own. Maybe, just maybe, it’s enough to know that I can’t force my children to do something they just aren’t ready to do.

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