I have shared here my personal pacifier battles. It has been a long battle, and at times an ugly one. I have felt frustrated, unsure of myself, and guilty for not having the discipline to do the right thing – if I could even figure out what the right thing was!
I was at a point with Max where the pacifier was used just for bedtime, although he sometimes displayed some babyish behavior and asked for it earlier in the evening. I took those moments as a sign that he was overwhelmed; he is, afterall, dealing with his parents’ separation and all the uncertainty and anxiety that goes with it. I haven’t known the right way to handle that, since I have been in survival mode more than anything else these last few months, and it is only recently that I’ve felt like it’s time to really shift into a new way of living.
At the same time, there have been two other transition issues I’d been trying to deal with: potty training and transitioning Max to his own bed. At first, I wanted to do all three things at once , thinking it might be best to get it done and start this new phase of our lives with as much of these things behind us. But in seeing the kind of crisis we were in, all that the three of us had to deal with, I realized that while convenient for me, that plan was going to wreck the kid. So his dad and I agreed to handle each one at once: first the potty, then the pacifier, then the bed issue.
Potty training, I’m ashamed to admit, has not been going so well. I take full responsibility, because I am not being as firm and dedicated as I need to be. I have been so much in survival mode, so much trying to ensure that he is mentally and emotionally o.k. and that I am taking care of myself, that I’ve felt like I don’t have the energy and focus that potty training require. I’m working to rectify this, but still. I’ve been failing at this.
So in this mind-set, with a plan for tackling these things, with my dealing with a lot of emotions and settling into my life part two, to find that from one day to the next, my son is off the pacifier – it is both a relief and a shock, and seeing the way it’s affected him has had me feeling like hell, even if I had nothing to do with this.
You see, the plan was that we’d have a "goodbye tete " ceremony, where he would be able to officially say goodbye and hopefully have as much closure as a three-year-old can have. With the birth of a new cousin expected in December, we’ve been telling him that he needed to give his tetes to her, because she needed them and he should give them to her as a gift. This was the plan.
And you know what happens to the best-laid plans, right?
His father told me earlier this week that Max had been chewing so much on his pacifier that he’d cut a hole in it, and it was damaged and unusable. Considering that was the only pacifier at his father’s house, Max sudenly found himself with no pacifier, and basically, that was that. No more pacifier. His dad explained to him that the pacifier was broken; it was unceremoniously tossed in the trash, and my son – well, I don’t know exactly what happened from there.
When Max came home a couple of days later, I had to reiterate that his pacifier was gone. His father and I are striving for consistency, and while I really hate how this whole pacifier thing went down, I cannot make it worse by allowing use of the pacifier in my house. And just as I expected, the way it all went down has negatively affected him, and it’s been a hard week for us as I’ve tried to comfort him and help him adjust to life without his soother. My poor boy has been all out of sorts: acting out, having difficulty falling asleep, waking up at night in tears. It’s been distressing, to say the least.
One of the things I’m not so good at is strategy. I can strategize in my head, but many times I have a disconnect in carrying it out. I tend to focus more on identifying problems, fixing them, and then carrying on until the next problem occurs. But maybe seeing my son in such distress acted as a swift kick to my butt, because I began thinking of ways I could help him. I figured that he has lost something that offered him comfort and made him feel safe. I know that feeling: the day my security blanket was taken from me is permanently etched in my brain.
So I dug out a soft, cute little stuffed frog he’d received as an infant and introduced it to him as a special friend he can turn to when he needs comforting. In the days we were together (as I write this, he is with his father and I don’t know how the last two night have gone), he took to "Titi" and asked for her when he woke up in the middle of the night.
At this point, the deed is done. One hurdle jumped, before any of us could even really prepare. I just hope Max transitions through o.k. and that as time passes, I’m better able to handle these things.
Photo graciously provided by wester, through a Creative Commons license, some rights reserved