Monday, October 15, 2007

Binky free at last?

Last night, we put William to bed at his usual time. David read the bedtime story to William in the rocking chair, while I hung up the damp bath towel and put fresh water in the sippy cups in the crib. I turned out the light, and David pulled up the crib rail, and we both told William that we loved him. And we left the room, pulling the door shut behind us.

As we were walking out of the room, David held out his hands toward me. Nestled in his palms were a half-dozen binkies--all the binkies from the crib. William's last stash. Without telling (that is, warning) me in advance, David had declared the night to be the start of William's Binky-Free Life. Binky Independence Day. The Liberation of the Binkies.

"He is not going to be happy," I told David.

"He doesn't need the binkies anymore," David defended himself. "He has Natty and his blanky, and he loves them. He doesn't need a binky."

"Well, you're going to have to deal with him," I said. "Because he doesn't know that he doesn't need a binky anymore."

See, I was the child who stubbornly held onto her own pacifier for a long time, long past the age when my parents wanted me to give it up. (Please don't ask how long that was.) And I turned out okay.

So I really didn't think it's a big deal that William still uses a binky when he's going to sleep. Still don't. Months and months ago, we started limiting his binky use until he only had access to one when he was physically in his crib. So, it's not like he walks around with one in his mouth. It's not like anyone other than us even sees him with one. The ladies at Mother's Day Out never even give him a binky for naptime there. He's not one of those kids who is speaking complete sentences around the pacifier in his mouth. Er, not that I would have any idea about that. Nosirree.

But David insisted that William needed to give up his binky habit altogether by the time he turned 18 months old. William turns 18 months old on Oct. 22. David's (artificially imposed) deadline is looming. So David took binkies into his own hands. And believing that parents need to present a united front, generally speaking, I sighed and said, "Okay, fine."

William sobbed pitifully for awhile after he realized there were no binkies drifting between the stuffed animals in the crib. I looked at David and raised my eyebrow. "He doesn't need one anymore," he said defensively.

I love how David has decided what William needs to go to sleep. Can you imagine how David would react if someone else decided what David needs to go to sleep!? I mean, we, the parents, make all the decisions for William: what pajamas he wears, what stuffed animals stay in the crib, even whether to leave the ceiling fan on at night. It's appropriate that we make all the decisions. But is it really so bad to let him choose to use a binky or not? Is it so terrible to give him a tiny bit of control over something so small?

David said something about William needing braces one day if we didn't act now. I muttered something back about how any kid of ours was going to need braces no matter what. But I didn't do anything.

So, as the crying escalated, David and I each took a turn going into William's room. We patted his head and back, handed Natty to him and draped his frog blanket over him. He finally settled down, putting his head down on the mattress and clutching Natty to his chest. I held my breath as I tiptoed out of his room. I sat down in front of the computer in our home office, and leaned sideways, wondering if I was hearing some fussing. Luckily, William must have been tired enough to drop off to sleep.

At 12:30 p.m., the sound of angry crying roused me out of a deep slumber. Confused, I rolled over in bed. David heard the crying, too. "This was your idea," I muttered. "It's your turn." David stumbled out of our room. When he returned, he said something about still not giving him the binky. "You can put this on your blog," he said. "You can write about how mean David took away William's binkies."

I decided right then that if I had to make a trip down the hall in the middle of the night, my son was getting his binky. I had enough nights of interrupted sleep when I was getting up and down to breastfeed. At least that served a purpose.

But the next thing I knew, National Public Radio was blaring across our bedroom. David turned off his alarm clock and headed for the shower. There had been no more middle-of-the-night wakeups. Hallelujah! I gleefully told my friends Emoke and Phuong at lunch how William managed to make it a whole night without his pacifier.

As an experiment, I put William down for his afternoon nap today without a binky. He was already pretty groggy, haven fallen asleep in the car on the way home from lunch. I honestly didn't expect him to give into a binky-free nap, but so far, so good. Maybe this really will work. Maybe William really doesn't need a binky anymore. Maybe Natty and the frog blanky are comforting enough.

But I'm still taking a couple of binkies with me to Natchez this week.

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