"Giving up" a night-time sleep crutch really sucks. (Get it? Pacifier? Suck?) Taking something away that comforts your child is about as much fun as carrots in a lunch box. For us the pacifier signaled pass-out time in the crib. She is a bundle of non-stop, enthuastic energy, God love her, so when we popped that thing in her mouth at night it was like shooting her with a tranquilizer dart. Her body went all wiggly and her face got soft. It was a nice little plastic miracle for a long time.
But then two things occurred: First, I insisted on taking her to the dentist. Did anyone tell me I should be doing this? Absolutely not. I guess I just wanted to check it off the Tortuous Things To Do With Your Toddler Before They Turn Three list. The dentist recommended the pacifier exit stage left by her third birthday to avoid damaging her teeth. And well, I kind of have this thing where I like to succeed at stuff Doctors and Dentists tell me to do.
Next, Miss P. started waking in the middle of the night calling us into her room to help her look for the paci that got "lost" in her crib. I'm not sure if she suddenly got lazy looking for it or her eyesight was bad. Maybe I should start putting carrots in her lunch bag. Either way we were up in the middle of the night searching for it.
After much internet research (that ultimately scared the crap out of me) I decided the "Give It To A Baby Who Needs It" Method was not going to work. I mean we had a real live baby right in our house and I was doing everything I could to avoid sibling rivalry. And the "Sew It Into A Build-A-Bear" Method made me think I'd probably have bear stuffing to clean up in the morning. So I chose to go with the Pacifier Fairy Method. And I got outsmarted by my two-year-old, twice.
The first time I told her about the Pacifier Fairy I asked her what she would like in return. She told me she wanted another pacifier. (Gotta hand that one to her.) I ignored her and dropped the issue for two days. The second time I mentioned it she announced it would be fine if said Paci-Fairy came but then we'd just go red-shopping-time (Target) after and buy another one. (Pretty. Brilliant.) I dropped the issue a second time and realized I had to go back in with a bigger set of balls. I took her to a toy store and said she could pick out anything she wanted. I would then tell the Paci Fairy about it and she would get the gift in return for the paci. At this point the Fairy was starting to sound creepy even to me. Who was this tiny freak that flew around and stole stuff? I made a mental note to tell my daughter this Fairy only takes pacifiers and nothing else.
Thrilled at the notion of free reign, she picked out a Bubble Guppies guitar. PS: Really glad she skimmed over the $499 Ride-On car. (Lloyd: But what if he shot you in the face? Harry: What if he shot me in the face? Cop: That was a risk we were willing to take." ) That night I brought a special bowl up for her to put the pacifier in on the nightstand that she couldn't reach from her crib. That lasted a whole 30 seconds. So I gave it back to her and said she wouldn't be getting the guitar. I felt like a real shit-head at this point. I didn't think any of it would work.
The next day she was at school and I just flat-out decided I needed to dispose of the thing while she was gone. As much as I hated doing it, there was no way she could deal with it being in the house and not having it. So I took all of her pacifier's, shed a tear, cut the nipples, then buried them outside in the dirty snow. (I'm SORRY environmentalists! I had to do that or else I'd cave and rummage through the trash.) I went to iParty, bought Dora and Mickey helium balloons and filled her room with them. I placed the guitar in her crib with a note from the Fairy. I even sprinkled "dust" on the stairs which was a particularly huge gesture on my part since I can't STAND glitter.
Driving her home from school that day I had a huge knot in my stomach. I babied her all through dinner and smothered her with kisses. I waited for Hubby to get home to do the death march up the stairs together. She had no idea what was going on until she spied the balloons. (In retrospect I could have saved the impossible task of cleaning up glitter.) She was ecstatic and distracted. That night she laid in her bed quietly for 45 minutes and then started crying for her paci. I went upstairs and cried with her. I told her it was okay to be sad and that we believed in her. It took her another hour to fall asleep, mostly sobbing the saddest sobs I have ever heard. It broke my heart in a million pieces. I drank two glasses of wine and made Hubby tell me we were doing the right thing. That night she called out three times asking for it but I rubbed her back and said we just didn't have it anymore. That morning she woke up and called for me. She jumped up and down when she saw me and yelled "MOMMY! I didn't need my pacifier to sleep!" My heart slowly mended back together. The fact that she was so proud of herself at that moment...well it made the next couple of painful nights worth it.
Now the Mickey balloons are withering away in her room and we haven't talked about the pacifier in weeks. It's almost as if it was never there. And even though it felt like torture at the time I like thinking I gave her the gift of confidence and pride and getting her one step closer to being a "big girl."
There are many ways and means to get rid of a pacifier. It's never easy from what I hear and from what I experienced. The only advice I can give is to know that this too shall pass...
Check out the story on Miss P's favorite sleep-time lovey, here