I have thought before that the most difficult time during a child’s life is the year between two and three. Not at all because of the “terrible two’s” (I honestly don’t believe in such a thing) but because of the transitions we as parents impose on them. It’s typically during this year of life that we do quite a number of these little humans! For starters, we take them out of their crib and dump them into an adult sized bed. To make matters worse, we often force them to start using the toilet, which I am convinced that if it weren’t for us adults, no child would even have the slightest interest in putting anything produced from their person into that cold, wet bathroom appliance. If all of this weren’t bad enough, we add major insult to injury by, alas! taking away the pacifier.
For us, it was the nunu. Both kids took a nunu, although different brands, both equally obsessed. To say they loved their nunu would be a broad, sweeping understatement. When we ended Audrey’s love affair with her nunu it was a challenge. Honestly, it was pretty difficult. To say that I was afraid of how William would handle it, well, let’s file that as the understatement of the century.
Audrey followed all of the rules. From the very beginning she was right along the straight and narrow. She came into the world in the most perfect way – head down without the slightest need for coaxing, nudging, or inducing. She nursed perfectly at less than an hour old and held steady for months until we amicably decided to end that part of our relationship. She walked the week she turned one, started talking and truly never stopped. She was delightful in every way – easygoing, endlessly happy with or without a nap, and figured out how to deal with disappointment and frustration very quickly. Her track record alone would indicate that getting rid of the pacifier would be nothing more than a mother-daughter negotiation. It simply had to stop, end of story. Sure. About that….
My sweet prince on the other hand come along in a much different way. Feet down with no inclination whatsoever of changing his position. He tap danced on my bladder any time he felt the need to stretch forcing me to pee my pants regularly. He made no apology about it. He made it very clear, very early on that while he enjoyed being close to me, he had no intention of getting any sustainable nutrition from me unless it was from the bottle I was holding. Frustration has been, well, frustrating. Did I mention he has the potential to throw things? He has the greatest laugh on the planet and is amazingly sympathetic to others around him. Did I mention he may throw an object or two when he’s angry?
So you can imagine as the time loomed how I felt about taking away his nunu. Audrey literally cried for 48 hours. Well not literally but it was tough. As I was contemplating when and how to make this transition I had this image in my head – you know the scene from Poltergeist when the family is trying to walk but can’t because the wind is whirling throughout the house? I was prepping for something along those lines. Imagine it – William standing in the middle of the den, screaming so loud he creates a vortex of time and sound that sucked all of us in, unable to escape. Blonde curls standing on end while tears streamed down his rosy cheeks. Okay, so I was clearly nervous about it. Brian and I talked several times about how to negotiate this. He suggested cutting the tip of the nunu and I vetoed it because that hardly ever works and it would likely only drag on the inevitable. So we decided to go cold turkey – really the best way to go – on a school morning when we could pack them up, say goodbye, and I would bring him to school.
This past week, as so many of us down south know, we have been “snowed” in. Schools and work closed due to weather. I can only attribute my decision this week to the fact that I was totally stir crazy having been cooped up inside for three days. I decided to try Brian’s suggestion. One morning, I took his two favorite nuns and snipped the tips off of them then quickly and quietly put them back into rotation. I watched him pick up the pink one, work it for a minute, take it out to look at it, work on it again, then he brought it to me. “Nunu broken mommy.” I gave him my biggest ‘awe shucks,’ patted his head, and moved on. He dug out the blue one, proceeded the same way then went to Brian. “Nunu broken daddy.” Brian also gave him his best condolences and also moved on. I waited. I watched. I looked at the nunu myself. I double checked that I had the right kid in my house because for a moment couldn’t believe what I was seeing. He laid the two broken nunus down and literally never said another word about them. I hurried around the house and collected the remaining ones that were in-tack leaving only the broken ones in his room. Lunchtime came and went. Train time came and went. He gave me a check-up with his doctor kit. We colored. Brian put him down for a nap and the child never so much as uttered the word ‘nunu.’ By that afternoon I had every nunu in the house stashed in my drawer. I was in total shock. Bedtime was a piece of cake. He slept like a champ and woke up bounding with smiles and hugs.
At this point I’m overjoyed because my precious boy far exceeded my dismal expectations for him. As a friend reminded me, they really are stronger than we give them credit for. Here I was expecting a horror movie and what we got was the complete opposite. In the midst of our delight, however, Brian and I did notice that something had changed in our son. Over the past 48 hours without a nunu we have found out that:
- William can count to 10 totally unassisted
- He can count to 20 with some help
- He knows all of his colors – even brown and black
- He sings the entire alphabet song and gets the letters correct
- He knows Old MacDonald – although the e-i-e-i-o part sounds somewhat like a dying animal
- Just by looking, he can differentiate between Skarloey and James (Mothers of boys you know the difference is truly inexplicable)
- He adds color and insight to the laundry “Cookie all clean, mom!” (Yes, he calls me ‘mom’ and Cookie is the name of his elf PJs.)
- He points out what most of us would consider to be the obvious – “Toby barking, mom!”
Leave to the littlest ones in our lives to teach us the greatest lessons. Clearly all of that time spent with a pacifier in his mouth my little boy was taking in a ton of information. Who knew he had quite so much to say! What a delightfully wonderful surprise. Now I can say, with complete certainty that my son is truly unplugged.