Pacifiers, paci, plug, binky, boo-boo. Call it what you will, but it can be a blessing or a curse. In my house it is a blessing that has become a bit of a curse.
Pacifiers: Blessing or Curse?
When we first started our family, I had made the decision to use pacifiers versus the thumb. As a former childhood thumb sucker, I knew the thumb could become a lifelong friend for any child. As much as I really wanted my children to have the thumb as an option, I knew the delayed consequences. Poor speech, buck teeth, raw and rashy thumb, and ridicule by anyone who saw could lead to poor self esteem in the end. I sucked my thumb longer than I care to admit. And my family were like thumb police, always on the lookout, telling me to “get that thing out of your mouth!” or “your dad is gonna cut that thumb off!” I knew the battle that lay ahead as a parent if I went the thumb sucking route. I loved my thumb. It was the best comfort thing I had. It had served me well!
So with some sense of beginner parenting discernment I decided to use the Boo-boo. Our oldest son took pacifiers all of six months. Easy peasy? Ya, he’s the only one. The rest of my parenting career has been full of pacifier duty. The pacifier was affectionately renamed “Boo-boo” by our oldest daughter, who loved hers so much, it took two tries and over a year to break the paci habit. When we did, she found comfort in sucking her thumb. Not the results I was hoping for. As a result, she had some minor speech issues that have since worked themselves out. It seemed like a curse that would never end! Only a good mom would hurry up and break her of that “awful’ thing! But, she didn’t take it with her to Kindergarten!
Our youngest boy had no interest in the pacifiers at all, which was probably a good thing because his older sister kept stealing them and hiding in her room to have a Boo-boo break! When he was about four months old he found a fleece blanky he’d been given as a gift and began to suck on the strips of fleece. Gross? Yes! It went everywhere. It stunk. I was disgusted that he could stand that wad of fabric in his mouth! But he was happy and it kept him content when he needed it most. He still loves his Boo but doesn’t need it as much as he used to. And he didn’t take it to Kindergarten with him!
Our youngest girl, well, she’s the youngest in our home. She’s the baby. Although she likes to remind us she’s NOT a baby anymore. She is still my last baby I have at this point. She’s growing up faster than I want her to, even though she seems to be trying to grow up as quickly as possible to keep up with the older kids. And she LOVES her Boo-boo with a passion! She is not quick to put it away for the day. (We do police it to some degree.) She will often cry out for her beloved Boo-boo when she’s upset, hurt, or just plain crabby. I can’t help but give in. It hurts me to see her miserable. We don’t leave home without it. We always keep them in various places to ensure we have one when the need arises. Just this last weekend I found one hidden in a picnic cooler we’d used a few weeks before. I wondered where that one had gone! Yesterday I found one up in a kitchen cabinet toward the back. They are always turning up somewhere!
About six months ago she decided some of them were “yucky” and began throwing them away. She went three days and nights without one. We thought she had made the decision on her own. That was short lived. She found one that was suitable, and again we were back on Boo-boo patrol.
I made the executive decision a few weeks ago that after our trip to Kentucky we would break the pacifier habit for good. I WAS NOT driving eight hours there and back without it! I may be brave enough to drive that far on my own, but going with a three-year-old and no paci is bordering on insanity! I’m sure an insane asylum might be a nice little vacation, but this mom doesn’t have time for that. This is when I realize that it has become a bit of a curse. We are so dependent on it as a family. Her need for the pacifier became a need for all of us!
Shortly after our trip, once we got unpacked, settled back in, and rested, I decided we’d work diligently at eliminating Boo-boo from our lives. We didn’t let her have it at all during the day for several days. Then one night I just pretended I couldn’t find it. After nearly an hour of asking, yelling down the hall, and calling out for her beloved Boo-boo, she nodded off to sleep, without it. Mission accomplished! Not so fast. The next morning she was wide awake bright and early at 6 a.m. Singing! On a Saturday morning at that. Then the questions, whining, and hysterics began. I’m just not that strong at the crack of dawn. I admit it, I melted and caved like a poorly built snow fort on a fifty-degree day in the middle of winter. I dug out the beloved Boo-boo. I’m not ready. I’m just as dependent on Boo-boo as she is!
It’s a curse that could’ve been avoided. But would you take your child’s favorite toy, stuffed animal, or blanky away because they are too old? No, I didn’t think so. Kids already have to grow up too fast in this crazy world we live in. So what if she needs pacifiers a while longer? She might very well be our last baby. I don’t want to look back on her childhood and have memories of struggling to force her to give up a comfort item. I want to look back and remember that she felt safe and comforted when she needed it. I want to let her be a baby a while longer. Yes, she’s three. Judge me all you want. But I honestly doubt she will take it with her to Kindergarten, or on her first date. And those baby teeth that might become crooked, they’ll fall out and be replaced by grown up teeth long after she gives up her Boo-boo.
Let’s connect on social media too: