November 2010

I had always wondered why so many babies were born in the summer. Out of all the months in a year, who would look at a calendar and say, “Hey, you know when I want to be nine months pregnant? August! I can’t wait to tote around forty extra pounds in ninety-degree weather.  And just think how stellar my swollen ankles will look in shorts!”


It’s pure insanity.


But two weeks ago, during a local costume parade, I connected the dots. It’s Halloween.  Now I know what you’re thinking…”Oh it’s all the girls running around dressed as slutty nurses, and slutty cats… slutty snowmen. Slutty cereal boxes.” But that’s not it. That’s not the reason why so many people procreate at the end of October thus forcing them to give birth during the sweltering heat of the summer months.


It’s the children.


It’s the eager and innocent faces peeking out from over-stuffed cow suits. It’s the toddlers tripping on their monkey tails. It’s the infants attempting to grip bottles with their synthetic lobster claws. It’s unbearably cute.


I am willing to put money on the fact that when it comes to Halloween, my kid alone could have sent a lifetime baby hater running to the sperm bank.


For starters, she was dressed as a purple and brown kangaroo-dog. I don’t know if you’ve been to the zoo or the Outback lately, but that’s not a real thing. It’s an animal crafted by the sheer brilliance and creativity of a two-and-a-half year old who wants to be a dog but also wants to have a pouch that will require her parents to purchase her a little stuffed animal to put in the pouch- is that cute or what?


On top of that, she requested that we host a Halloween party (despite having no idea what Halloween was) and spent the morning making decorations for the party- pumpkins with upside down mouths and ghosts with six eyes- astonishingly cute.


Then when her friends arrived she led them onto the bed and orchestrated the most epic bed jumping rumpus ever. Kids jumping on the bed are cute even when they’re not wearing costumes, but just imagine a little astronaut, a fairy, a pirate, a pumpkin, and a kangaroo-dog all giggling and bouncing about. I almost puked it was so cute.


But none of that compared the cuteness of the actual trick-or-treating. That shit was so cute I’m pretty sure that I died at least three times of heartbreak all in the course of walking one neighborhood block. When the costumed crew headed out none of them knew what to expect. At two-and-a-half, most of the girls had worn costumes before but had never been exposed to the costume/candy equation.   When we came to the first door my daughter wrapped herself around my ankle and looked up at me like, “Umm…Mom? I don’t think we know the people who live here. I may be dressed as a kangaroo-dog but that doesn’t mean I have special powers. If some dude comes to the door with an axe we’re toast, despite my costume.”

But when a friendly face emerged holding a basket of candy and inviting her to “take a handful” her eyes grew as wide as melons and her mouth fell agape.” Is this really happening?” I could hear her thinking. “Has this always been the case? All these past two years could I have been knocking on doors and getting candy? Why did no one tell me!” By the second door Sage and her crew of toddling buddies were like professional door-to-door salesmen. “Trick-or-treat,” they cooed in chorus smiling like cherubs and posing so their costumes looked “just so”. These kids were so cute people were dumping fistfuls of candy into their little plastic pumpkins and then running into their homes to find other treats to give. “Here have my cat too, oh here’s a fifty, here’s the keys to my car, the deed to my house…take it all.”


Everyone was left babbling and helpless. The costumes, the excited eyes, the giddy laughs over miniature snickers, the wild shrieking of a child who’s out with her friends past dark for the first time ever; it’s all just amazing.


It makes you feel like everything is new and alive, like it’s all just beginning. It makes you remember magic. It makes you think of your own childhood and how it felt to play outside all day and then return home to a warm bath and a perfect chapter book. It makes you think of campfires and flying a kite and road trips. It makes you think of all the fun things that lie ahead, of all the things you want to do and be. It makes you certain that everything will work out and that children are the answer to everything- ending war, eradicating poverty…everything.


It makes you want to get knocked up even if it means…


babies in August.



It was time. It had gotten out of hand.  She’d grown dependent. It started to trump everything; it was on her mind at bedtime and first thing in the morning. Sometimes in the night she’d wake and call out for it. “I need it,” she’d shout. “I NEED IT!” There was desperation in her voice. It was scary.


The pacifier had to go.


My husband and I decided to stage an intervention, “What if she’s sixteen and still sucking it? What if for her sixteenth birthday instead of asking for a car she asks for a diamond-studded binky? And her teeth…her poor teeth! It is undoubtedly doing damage by the minute. But worst of all is the fact that we spend seventy-five percent of our day looking for the damn thing. Just think of all the free time we’d have if we weren’t constantly on all fours searching for the pacifier.”


We were agreed. We would break her of the habit before Thanksgiving.


We just needed a plan, a way to extricate the paci without scarring our dear daughter who had come to love it so much.  We Googled “paci intervention”, we checked the papers for “binki quitting support groups”. Nothing came up. It was looking bleak. Then one day as I was pulling out the car seat and lifting up the floor mats in hopes of locating a lost Nuk, I had an epiphany. The pacifier elimination plan came to me all at once, it was like a dream.


It was flawless! Through a delicate mix of self-empowerment and bribery we’d rid her of the binky in no time.


The following day, after a particularly frustrating paci search that ended in tears (my tears) we began to implement the plan.

“Gosh”, we mused right before bed, “did you know that Nola, and Jo, and Abigail have all given up their pacifiers. That’s a pretty big kid thing to do.”

“Yeah,” she agreed.

“Do you think it was hard? Do you think they miss it?” We asked.

“Yeah,” she said.

“Well, some day I bet you’ll be ready to give up your paci too. You’ll really be a big kid then.”

“Yeah,” she said, “but I’m not ready yet.”


So we backed off. We were going for the win, to defeat the all-powerful paci we had to be patient.


We continued to celebrate Sage’s paci-less friends on a daily basis. It became a ritual. “Tell me again who has no pacis,” our daughter would ask every night before bed.


Then, after a few weeks, after a particularly brutal paci search that led to us upturning our mattress and accidentally breaking a coffee mug, we began to raise the stakes.

“You know,” we said. “It will be a really special thing when you give up your paci.”

“Do you think you’d like to pick out a treat when it happens; like a toy that will always remind you of the occasion?”

“Oh yes!” she nodded eagerly, “but I’m not ready yet.”

We kept our cool, we did not push…days passed. We watched our daughter for signs of readiness. We presented her with a Toys R Us catalog and she identified a little panda family that she decided would be the toy of choice on that big no paci day.

“But I’m not ready yet,” she said, clutching the catalog.


We continued to wait patiently.


But one night a few weeks later, all the pacifiers went missing- really and truly missing. We searched on our hands and knees. We called to them. We pulled cushions off every piece of furniture in the house. It was like the Universe was conspiring to expedite our plan.

As we lay on the floor our heads deep under the living room couch, I wriggled towards my husband until we were nose to nose.

“If I spend one more minute looking for a fucking pacifier I m going to lose it.” I whispered.

“Me too!” he hissed. “Let’s go for it now. Let’s take the leap.”

We emerged from the floor, picked the cobwebs out of our hair, took a deep breath, and braced ourselves for the worst.

“You know,” we said. “It seems like all the pacifiers are gone. Maybe it’s time for no more pacis. Maybe tomorrow we can go get those pandas.”

“Okay,” she said, like it was absolutely nothing, like the pacifier was as insignificant as a sock.


Just like that the pacis were out of our life.


My husband and I walked around aimlessly that night. It felt so strange to not spend the evening buried under the furniture searching for rubber soothing devices.


“What should we do with our free time?” I asked.


“I don’t know…read books maybe, watch a movie, invent something. What DO people do with their free time?”

It felt weird.

“Maybe we should crawl around on all fours and stick our heads under things just for old times sake. Hey I know, let’s have a scavenger hunt.” I suggested.


That night we slept like kings.  With no midnight searches, no desperate calls when it fell out of our daughter’s mouth. We got twice as much sleep.


It was bliss.


The next morning we all woke full of energy and headed to the toy store to collect the panda prize.


Just like I had seen it play out in my mind, our daughter rushed to the little fur family cooing, “I don’t have a paci because I am a big girl. I have pandas instead.” It was all going so well. My husband and I exchanged a high five. We were so excited by our success that we even offered to buy our daughter the miniature twin baby pandas that went along with the panda family that she had chosen. One of the twins had his very own miniature pacifier. It seemed so symbolic, it seemed so right.


We left the store all aglow.


But later that afternoon as Sage was playing with the panda babies we heard tears coming from the living room.


We rushed to the scene and found our daughter in hysterics. “The panda paci…” she moaned. “The panda paci is gone. It’s lost.”


My mouth dropped to the basement, I went numb, “You’ve got to be kidding me,” I thought to myself. “How could we have let this happen? Of all the millions of no paci prizes that we could have awarded to our daughter, we went and replaced her pacifier, with another pacifier.”


But this one was microscopic! It was smaller than a raisin, smaller than the head of a nail, smaller than the ear buds for an ipod nano!   It was practically invisible. It could easily get swallowed by a dust bunny and never be seen again. And there was only one. We couldn’t pull off the late night run to Walgreen’s to get more. This paci was irreplaceable.


We were doomed.


“Whose fucking idea was this?” I hissed at my husband. “It’s like we cured an addiction to caffeinated soda by replacing it with an addiction to single malt scotch.”


So now we’re right back where we started, crawling along the baseboards, pulling up cushions, desperately searching for that paci. It’s just that now we’ve got to use a magnifying glass. Someday we’ll break her of the pandas and this time we’ll replace the fix with something huge, something with a tracking device- like a giant on home arrest or a satellite.  Someday. But for now…. she’s “not ready yet.”