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.”