I crossed a new threshold in my parenting yesterday. I was out walking the dog and carrying Elijah. He started getting fussy to go to sleep but he didn't want to nurse. I pulled his new pacifier out of my pocket, noticed it was covered in lint, and without thinking stuck it in my own mouth to suck off the offending debris. I've done a lot of things in the past five years, but this was the first time I swallowed lint to clean off a kids' toy.
I don't imagine it will be the last.
Neither of my first two children used a pacifier. There is some vague anti-dummy prejudice in hippy-land, maybe because pacies are associated with scheduled feedings, or perhaps just because they're plastic and they make kids look vacant. Perhaps I was even proud once to have kids who didn't NEED dummies. If so, it was a fake bitchy kind of pride. Because there have been moments in my parenting of all my babies when I've tried putting EVERYTHING in their mouthes to find ANYTHING stop the crying. It's just that last week when it was Elijah's teething turn, he was the only one who instead of saying "Pleh pleh" to the pacie took it in his mouth and said, "Yes, yes! A thousand times yes! Where have you BEEN all my life, sucking without food???"
And in retrospect, there's no reason to be proud of a child who nurses for comfort until he vomits (Harvey) or whose teeth are already bucking forward from the constant pressure of a thumb (Zion). Elijah has the unique distinction among my children of being way ahead in gross motor skills and behind in fine motor, which means he can't reliably get his fingers in his mouth and hates the sensation of his belly overfilled. A child who self-regulates calorie consumption? Now that's something to be proud of! Bring on the dummy!
When he first showed interest in such sucking it was with a pacifier we've had in the fridge for the past 5 years. Unfortunately Elijah's lack of coordination meant I had to hold it in his mouth for an hour while he calmed down. That same night I called Dan who was at Mrs. Katie's house for bible study. "Ask Katie if she has an extra one of those pacifiers attached to animals!" I said in a voicemail, and then in a text, and then on the phone when he called me back wondering what the emergency was. "For the Love of God, I need a pacifier that's easier to hold! Two days Amazon Prime is TOO LONG TO WAIT!!!"
Thankfully Mrs. Katie is a veteran of wubs, and Elijah was soon the proud owner of an adorable monkey. (Katie and Tim and Nathan, I cannot say thank you enough. You saved my week with a feverish, teething, car-riding baby.)
I post this photo that shows that even when he's being held all attachment parented or whatever, nursing on-demand and blah-dee-blah, still Elijah wants that wub. Shouldn't that be enough? Shouldn't we just give our children what they want?
I am ashamed that I feel the need to write this post to justify my choices, as if I want a public exemption from hippy policy in the case of the pacifier. Of course this is ridiculous. If my concept of a perfect baby-hood or childhood doesn't include things that are uniquely necessary to my children, then my concept is useless and destructive. I'm thinking about you, legos. And you too, iPad. I hope I'll be brave enough to parent my children based on what they need, rather than what I think looks good in a blog post or a facebook photograph. Elijah, get on with your pacie-sucking self. I love whatever makes you happy.
Harvey and Zion, this is me giving you more grace regarding the legos on the floor. And MAYBE the iPad, we'll see.