Thursday, September 8, 2011

on transitions and change: the view from the pacifier bowl

It is late Wednesday evening as I write this.  I am listening to Alice over the room monitor.  Her first night without a pacifier.

So far we have gone in there for trips to the bathroom (notice the plural), to find specific buddies (little Elmo, Grover), to answer questions, to take clothes off a buddie (it is unacceptable that Elmo go to bed in corduroy pants and flannel shirt), and to deliver a tiny book about cats that Alice is convinced she cannot sleep without.

During the last Alice pit stop, Chip decided to stay.  He is now hunkered down on her bedroom floor, hoping that his presence will soothe her into dreamland.

I don't think that Alice is the only one who really misses that paci.

- - -

We've been working toward this for months.  She hasn't been allowed to use one for more than actual sleep in a year.  And in the last six months, we've tapered off her even holding more than one at a time.  Meanwhile, I have been thinking hard about what motivates this girl, and after some serious deep thinking, I came up with FISH.  Which sounds weird, I know.  But she wants a pet, has wanted a pet to call her own for a long while.  And she's allergic to anything with hair.  So we have fish.  And you know, with enough build up and visits to the pet store: fish are EXCITING.

It turns out, according to Alice's parents, fish are also EXPENSIVE.  So expensive, in fact, that they can't be bought with money.  The pet store will only take paci's as payment.

Two days ago we bought a small fish tank and several fish tank accoutrements to Alice's liking.

And today, we walked into Petsmart, picked out three little colorful fish, and Alice paid for them with a bag full of pacifiers.

- - -

She named them Spoonjab (phonetic spelling), Annie, and Miss Hannigan.

- - -

After getting the trio set up in their new digs, we had a family picnic in Alice's room because she couldn't bear to be away from her new fish.

- - -

The reality of Life Without Paci hit dear Bean as soon as I was done reading her bedtime story.  When she asked for a paci, and I reminded her that they'd been left at the store, she sort of just looked.  Blinked.  And then said, "But I need something for my mouth!"

- - -

I usually resist writing anything when I'm still in the middle of it --- it's like trying to describe the ocean while swimming neck-deep in it.  The view obscured to a straight blue line, small bobbing things far off in the distance.

And it's just as true in this instance as in any: I can't tell you what it's like on the other side, only tell you that her pain and frustration and worry is real. 

Here's hoping for better nights to come.

How have you handled transitions at your house?  How long does it take you or your kids to get used to the change?  Have you ever gone back to an old way of doing things because the transition was too hard?


Amanda said...

Three nights. I'm told it takes three nights to get through this.

I have no real idea. My kids didn't take pacis as much as I wished they'd just find SOMETHING to soothe themselves with.

I hope this goes well for all of you!!!

Oh and Welcome Spoonjab, Annie, and Miss Hannigan to the family!

clueless but hopeful mama said...

Sounds like you're doing such a great job getting her ready to let these go!

We had the "Paci Fairy" visit one night after Z turned two and it took her three sleep times (2 naps, and 1 bedtime) to get used to it. The one bedtime was terrible, lots of crying for her "papi" and I cried and begged CG to let me give them to her. He was right. By the next night she was TOTALLY fine. I was amazed.

E still gets a paci but she's headed toward the same fate...

Amy said...

I'd say about 3 sleeps also. The first night was bad - but only for about 10 minutes of screaming. I laid in bed to try to sooth him. Mike went to our bedroom to get the "Spare" and I yelled - yes YELLED - at him admist the crying "IF YOU GIVE THAT TO HIM, HE'LL NEVER GIVE IT UP!!" I got my point across and the crying died down (on Nate's part). If I wouldn't have stood firm with Mike, Nate would probably still have that darned thing.

Good luck!

tearese said...

don't go back once you've started the just makes it harder. We don't have pacifiers, but I'm thinking about potty training or bedtime routines. Don't give in! She'll get oer it soon.

Alicia said...

Anneke potty trained really early but was the most difficult of all our kids. We almost went back SO many times because it would've just been easier to change her diaper. But we didn't, and she remains potty trained still to this day.

I think, in all, it was only about 2 weeks or something, but it felt like FOREVER wading through all that pee.

Kieran had a paci (which we call a "passer" in our house because that's how he said it) until he was around 4 (only for sleep times after about 18 months). He was so old by the time we forced the issue that he was rational enough just to understand. No problems. (He's super rational and adultlike, though, and always has been. I don't think all my kids would've been like that, even at that age.)

Griffon still sucks his thumb, and Archer has a paci. No plans to give up either yet.


Chadillac said...

Never really had trouble with the pacifiers, though we are in a particularly rough transition period. And as I think of this I realize it may have nothing to do with anything. We 5 noisy, messy, and crazy people have moved in with my dad while we search for a new home. My dad lives in a museum, my middle girl (5) has not slept through the night since we arrived, and we walk on eggshells all the time. The only solution we have figured out is to find a home. Oh yeah, haven't found a home yet.