Monday, April 9, 2012

A Visit From The Spring Fairies - Visita degli Gnomi di Primavera

There comes a time when a baby boy is no longer a baby. He must part from the things he was attached to as a baby, he must rise up from his crib, make his way to a brand new bed and wave goodbye to his fifteen (or more) pacifiers, because those things are not for him anymore. There comes a time when a mother has to tell her baby that he is no longer a baby. This is not easy, especially when the thing you want your child to part from is the ciuccio (pacifier), the one thing who helped you (and generations of other mothers) overcome the baby blues, the precious friend which faithfully followed you later in motherhood, in the good and in the bad, to offer you support and an hour or two of peace, every day. I could always count on that instant calm that would wash over him when I was sticking the ciuccio in his mouth. This is hard to give up.

So, my dear pacifier, I have to say goodbye. I want you to know that for two and half years you have been very precious to me. I’ll never forget the special moments we shared. Thanks to you, we went to nice restaurants, art exhibitions, bookstores, museums and last year we even managed to sit through an entire evening event for adults, without a single cry coming from the stroller. I will never forget, dear ciuccio, the numerous instances when you were about to drop out of his mouth but you were still there hanging on. Two or three seconds later, he would invariably pull you back into his mouth like the curtain accidentally sucked by the vacuum cleaner. I remember this moment with strong emotions:  indoor, in complete silence, with aisles of books still carrying the smell of the printed pages, while outside a snow-storm or the torrential rain. And Tronk STILL ASLEEP in the stroller! With you still glued to his lips and the white blanket squeezed in his little hands. I felt I was in heaven perhaps for an hour, or two.

Thanks to you, Tronk was still a baby. Well, in my heart he still is.

Did I say I wanted you to leave? No, stay for a little longer, please. It is not about Tronk but also about me; I want to keep my baby, my space, that precious silence when he is asleep. I don't want to give all this up. Pacifier, stay, please!

"Doctor, are you telling me that I have to give up the pacifier? I mean... that William has to give it up?", I asked the pediatrician. "Yes, he's a big boy now, he doesn't need it! His rashes might be caused by that. Get rid of it!", he replied firmly. "Sure”, I said, with the tone of the teenager who has just been told by her mother to stop seeing a man who is not good for her.

No matter what everyone said (doctor, husband, mother, friends), I continued to feel that I couldn't live without it - I had one in almost every bag I own, one in the stroller, two on Tronk's bed, one in the car and several back up ones on Tronk's chest of draws. More than once, I went on a girls night out with a paci stuck in my purse! To later realize I was happy to have it; it was almost like carrying a bit of Tronk with me.

I promise we will never read Ciao Ciao Ciuccio again!
A book on waving goodbye to pacifiers later came in the mail. The first time I read it to Tronk he burst into tears and hated the book. He later decided that “Ciao Ciao Ciuccio!” was his enemy and that there was no way I could persuade him to pick up that book again without seeing some sort of displeasure in his face. The truth is I wasn't getting a good feeling from that book either. There was something missing. Why would a cat who is upset because he cannot find his pacifier suddenly decide to wave goodbye to it and make it fly away attached to a balloon when it turns up? Sorry, I am not buying it.

On the internet, there was a troupe of mothers having discussions about how to help their children overcome the binky addiction. Many of them were saying that the older the children get, the harder it becomes to do it.  

"Ok, the clock is ticking. We have to do it, whether we like it or not", I finally said to John.

Every day, the same questions: "When are we going to do it? This weekend? No, this weekend no! Next weekend! Ok ,done! No, we’ll be away! Ok, we'll do it the following weekend. What? We are flying to Italy! Ok, when we are back."

We cannot just make them disappear. Ultimately, we decided we had to steal his pacifiers away but we needed to come up with a nice story to cover our crime. "Ok, let’s go ahead with the spring fairies but we need to get him used to the idea". "Sounds good".

"Tronk? I ciucci sono per i bebe', non per i bimbi grandi. Tu sei un bimbo grande adesso! Dobbiamo dare i ciucci agli gnomi di primavera!" (Tronk, the binkies are for babies, not for big boys. You are a big boy now! We have to give the binkies to the spring fairies!), John and I must have said this in his room at least a hundred times in the last few months. Yet, before we were even finished uttering these words, the blue binky had already snapped onto his lips.

“The spring fairies are coming to take your ciucci. Would you like them to bring you a car in return?” He agreed immediately. Few days later, “No, voglio una macchina e un camion!” (No, I want a car and a truck!). Ok, deal.

So yesterday we finally did it! We asked Tronk to put all his ciucci in an envelope with a letter addressed to the spring fairies which we wrote for him.

What is this all about?
We then went to bury the envelope in the backyard and placed a large stone on top of it.

Tronk happily helped us do all this, without the slightest hesitation. Then bedtime arrived. Tronk was tired but nothing was making him go to sleep. He was trying to find excuses to stay awake. He kept saying: Non voglio dormire perche’ e’ primavera! (I don’t want to sleep because it's spring). At the end, he eventually did fall asleep, but after a fair amount of crying.

The following morning:

Fantastico!, he really said that.

We had another fair amount of crying the second night (back to the crying out method we used when he was a baby!) but we managed to get through it. I know this is going to take some time and efforts on our part - a bit like giving up breastfeeding, very sad and emotional, but it is good for all of us. We need to move on and do big boy things. So thanks for all your help, binkies. I will never forget what you did for my baby... and me.

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