Felicity used a pacifier at night for longer than she probably should have. At her three-year pediatrician check-up, I confessed to her doctor that we were clinging to this one vestige of babyhood -- not out of reluctance to move on from her infancy, but rather from a desperate desire to keep bedtime peaceful and easy and to keep her in bed in the morning until we were all ready to get up.
The doctor laughed kindly at my sheepishness, then she checked Felicity's teeth and said they looked completely fine, so we didn't have to get rid of it, like, that day or anything. So of course I back-burnered the transition since the sun was rising earlier as we approached summer, and I didn't want to risk 5am wake-ups from a child who saw the pale dawn edging in around her blinds and thought, hey! Since I don't have a paci to keep me occupied and quiet, I'd better go tearing into Mom and Dad's room!
Then when I took Felicity to her first dentist visit in July, he also was unalarmed by the whole thing; he encouraged me to have her stop using it in the relatively near future, but he actually said that if she started sucking on her fingers or thumb once we removed the pacifier, I should give it back to her, because of the much more gruesome orthodontic damage that can evidently be wrought by finger-sucking.
I told Felicity around that time that at the end of the summer, when we got back from Nantucket, she would have to say good-bye to her pacifier. I promised her that she would get a really special treat of her own choosing once she gave it up for good, and she nodded gravely in acceptance of these terms. She said she wanted to get a stuffed kitty cat, or maybe a bear. Periodically, I reminded her of this and she always agreed. I offered in August to give her two special treats if she gave it up early, but she demurred. She said she wanted to use it until the end of the summer, but she promised she would give it up when we got home from the beach.
In Nantucket, she knew the pacifier's days were numbered, and she cherished the time they had together. Sometimes she would say, in a wavering voice, "Mama? I don't want to give up my paci."
When we got home from our trip, that very night I told her it was time to say good-bye to the paci. I had long before sewn the pacifier to the arm of the stuffed hippo she always sleeps with (which saved me MANY nights of having to go into her room and root around on the floor for the blasted thing), so there was a rather dramatic moment of having to cut it off right in front of her. She cried and cried, and I felt like a world-class heel, but I remained firm. I put the pacifier away in my closet and went back to her room, where she was writhing around miserably in her bed, wailing, "I need my paci! I want my paci, Mama! May I please have it? PLEASE?" It was utterly pitiful.
As I laid in her bed, holding her and trying to console her, I said the first thing that popped into my head: "What if...what if we had gotten on the plane to come home today and everyone on it had a pacifier in their mouth?" She paused her histrionics for a moment. I went on, "What if the pilot on the plane was using a paci? You'd say, Yikes! I don't want the person flying the plane to be using a paci!" She giggled a little bit. "What if you went to school and all of your teachers were using pacifiers? You'd say, Yikes! Why are my teachers using pacis? How am I supposed to learn from someone who's sucking on a paci?! And you wouldn't even be able to understand what they were saying!" I imitated someone trying to talk with a pacifier in their mouth. "Mppph! Mph grpppph hmmph!"
By now, Felicity was full-on laughing through her tears. "Do another one, Mama!"
I went on (and on and ON) making up silly things about people using pacifiers in everyday situations, and finally it was well past her bedtime but she had calmed down enough to go to sleep. It took her a little longer to settle down than usual, but she did it. She slept without her pacifier for the first time. I don't remember what happened the following morning, but I think she stayed in bed just as long as she had before, or nearly so.
Each night for the first week or so without her trusted friend, she cried at bedtime and sometimes she really lost it. She would beg and plead for her paci, but every time I was able to distract her and get her laughing by my "what if everyone used pacis?" scenarios.
One Saturday about a week after that first night, we took her to FAO Schwartz for the first time in her life, to pick out her special treat as a reward. I had told her she could get one toy and one book. I was thinking she would pick a giant, floppy dog or cat that she could snuggle with at night. She looked for a long time at the stuffed animal selection on the first floor, carefully inspecting nearly every plush toy on the premises, and finally she narrowed the finalists to a little Yorkie wearing a purple argyle sweater and a fuzzy bear wearing a pink sweatshirt with a bow on one ear. We carried both of them upstairs to look around the dolls section, in case she wanted to trade the dog and bear for a baby, but in the end -- after much further deliberation and contemplation -- she held fast to the animals.
When it was time to check out, I told her she needed to choose between the dog and the bear. I reminded her that she could pick one toy and one book (a Pinkalicious treasury was the winner). She thought for a minute, then said, "But Mama, you said I could get one BIG toy. Instead I want to get two SMALL toys." Smooth negotiator, that one. I tried to resist, and she was leaning toward keeping only the puppy, but then she started to tear up as we stood at the display of bears, clutching the one she had chosen. She looked up at me with the saddest face and said, "Mommy? This bear really wants to come live with us and be a part of our family. She wants a nice home with lots of friends and snuggles." WELL. OKAY THEN.
So of course we got both. It's been a couple of months now, and they are no longer her most favorite things in the world, but she does sleep with them at night along with the hippo and bear and piggie that she's had for years and has already loved into raggedness.
As an epilogue, she did start trying to suck on a finger at night, so I had to go into another litany of what ifs. This time I took the silliness factor to another level, with a sufficiently deterring cautionary tone, "What if sucking on your fingers made...your nose grow longer and longer and longer until it went all the way out the window? What if sucking on your fingers made a giant gorilla come crashing into your room and it kidnapped you and took you to live at the zoo? What if sucking on your fingers made your friends disappear?" You get the general idea. She thought this was the most hilarious thing ever and SHE STILL DOES. Almost every night, we STILL have to go through a bunch of ridiculous "what ifs" and sometimes it is really tiresome -- but it worked. Parenting victory!
The next thing to deal with will be moving from a Pull-Up at night to underwear. As with everything else, I'll either know it's time by all the signs pointing in that direction (like her keeping it dry all night, but that only happens sometimes so far, and never more than two nights in a row), or I will be forced into it by knowing that she shouldn't be, say, 18 and still using a Pull-Up. Plus, she is already in the largest size and it's well nigh too small for her beanstalk frame. Oh, dear.
It's always something, isn't it?