It might seem weird for me to write a post about pacifiers since my kids are all pre-teen or teenagers. But pacifiers, those rubber and plastic combos that placate many a baby, were a huge part of our life. Funny thing, the pacifier. I mean, who thought that up? Obviously a breastfeeding mother who thought, why can't I just detach my boob and go about my business? This kid is driving me nuts? Then, some lightbulb went off and someone invented the pacifier. Wikipedia (always a reliable source - ha!) says the pacifier, also called "dummy" or "soother" originated perhaps as early as the 16th century as a "sugar rag" or "sugar teat", literally a soft rag with a bit of sugar in it and tied with a thread, intended to soothe a teething baby. In the 17th century a "coral" was a term for a rather expensive pacifier made with silver (hence, "born with a silver spoon in his mouth"), and often coated with mother-of-pearl or coral (hmmm.....I guess if you were really broke you could pawn the baby's pacifier?). Well, history lesson aside, pacifiers became a part of our lives in an unusual way.
Our first baby entered the world just as peaceful as can be. The hospital staff suggested that IF she needed to be soothed between feedings (haha), we should let her suck on our finger. This never seemed very sanitary to me, and also a bit weird, but we did it anyway. After many white-knuckle car rides with the baby howling (and a little bit of parent howling as well), my husband pulled into a drugstore parking lot and said "Go in there and get something, ANYTHING, that remotely resembles a finger for that baby to suck on!" I stared at the store display, confused, and ended up buying eight different pacifiers - all of which she hated. My sister, a more experienced mother than I, spent a long time "training" the baby to take this pacifier (I'm not sure what transpired during this "training" - she ordered my husband and I to go out to dinner). But, thank God, the baby took it, and was much happier. Happy baby equals happy parents and we became another set of thousands of parents who say "I'll never give my kid a pacifier!" and promptly did. At that point, "who cares?" became the mantra.
So, we entered the strange world of pacifiers where kids fall in love with a plastic and silicone object and covet it more than anything in the world. They even give it special names. My first child called hers "paci" (passy, rhymes with gassy, which also makes babies smile!). My second child called hers "Paco". No idea where that came from. My nephew called his "taba". Again, completely no explanation. Many others call it a "binky", "sucky" (that one cracks me up - it's MORE sucky if you forget the sucky when you leave the house!), "nuk" (a nod to a brand name) and many other nicknames for this object that, when you get right down to it, is a baby's drug of choice.
Those little suckers (pardon the pun) are all well and good when they're soothing the wailing baby, or keeping a tiny toddler quiet during a meeting. But the fateful day comes when it suddenly becomes a little less chic to outfit your preschooler in the latest kid trends with their plastic "friend" hanging from their lips. They accomodate this extra appendage very well - talking around it, slipping it out deftly when sipping a juice box. But when the kindergarten bus comes rolling into YOUR neighborhood, do you really want to have the oversized baby in overalls, new kicks and a PACIFIER? No you do not. So, it's time to devise a plan to get rid of the baby crack. And that is a lot harder than it seems. The addiction is.....well, it's addiction! There's no getting around it and no easy way to get rid of it. Some kids give it up willingly - the promise of a treat or giving their pacifiers to a new baby is enough to lure the sucky away from the preschooler and into the mouths of babes. But other kids take a lot longer. A LOT. I, for one, can attest to a four year old who was quite fond of her pacifier. Oh, not in public, she had the decency to not humiliate her obviously flawed mother in public, but at home? At night? It was pacy or nothing. Until one day..........
To spare the gory details, I'll just say there was a particularly nasty tantrum on the way home from a preschool field trip in which the pacifier was demanded repeatedly, despite my reminders that we leave pacy at home and that we could get it later and that if she didn't stop screaming RIGHT THIS MINUTE I was going to throw that pacy in the garbage, yes I was! Once we arrived home (after dropping off the obviously shaken mother and child who were our carpool buddies on the trip), I said "That's it! I've had it! The pacy goes away TODAY!" I decided cold-turkey was the only way and I gathered up all the pacifiers and....no, I didn't throw them out, I was smart enough to keep them squirreled away in a drawer "just in case" but I was really hoping this would work.
It was a L-O-N-G night. That child cried, shook uncontrollably (could this be withdrawals?), wailed, begged and pleaded for the return of pacy. I held my ground. Not very well, mind you, and there were tears of my own, but at some point sleep blessedly overtook us. In the morning I steeled myself for another long day of tears and entreaties. But here was the advantage of breaking the dreaded pacifier habit when your child is old enough to go to school. My daughter pranced into the room, triumphant and announced "I went the WHOLE night without my pacy! Now I can get my ears pierced!" Sigh. Well, here's hoping next time we break a habit she doesn't ask for a tattoo.
Pacy, binky, taba, Paco.........whatever you call it, pacifiers are a weird concept. A blessing and a curse. Personally, I'd like one of those silver and coral numbers....I could pawn it and buy some sweet shoes.