I Ripped His Paci And His Heart Out
Last night I decided that it was time for my two year old son to be done with his pacifier. I felt like he was ready. I thought, “He’s a tough kid. All he needs is a little verbal reassurance and he’ll be fine.”
I told him to tell his pacifier, affectionately called his “night-night”, goodbye and we walked it to the trash can in the garage.
He burst into tears as he said goodbye and ran back in the house crying his eyes out.
What had I just done? I felt like a monster.
He was clearly emotionally attached, and I had just ripped his heart out.
I thought about giving it back to him. I had only pretended to throw it away, but he didn’t know that.
Pride and a realization that giving it back now might do more harm than good caused me to stick to my guns.
I tried a little verbal reassurance as I sent him to bed, but he was having none of it.
Finally it dawned on me.
This pacifier was his emotional support for the entire two and a half years of his life. I couldn’t just rip it away and expect him to “get over it” so quickly. If I took it away, I needed to be prepared to provide the support he needed while he was learning to live without it.
I walked into his room while he was still crying and asked him if he wanted to do a “camp out” on the floor together. In an instant his whole demeanor changed. He hopped out of bed with excitement, and we quickly made make-shift beds on the floor to “camp out” in his room.
As we settled in, I told him that with his “night-night “ gone, his whole family would be there to support him. He kept repeating that to himself over and over again and also saying names of each of his family members. It was as if he really needed to hear that and see that to get through this.
We talked and told stories until he fell asleep.
There may be more episodes of “withdrawal” as he learns to live life without his pacifier, and we’ll take them in stride as they come. But I can’t help but think there’s a deeper lesson here for me to learn.
Even as an adult, I’ve had emotional crutches I’ve relied on to get through life. Some were good and some were destructive. As I think about the most effective help I received (and still do) to let go of those destructive crutches, it was all from people who walked with me through the pain of letting go. They didn’t just tell me to “get over it”. They walked into my life and camped out with me while I was learning to let go.
May I never forget that.
I feel so honored that I get to do this with my son. Whether it’s while he’s learning to live without his pacifier now or anything else that may come in the future.