If you’ve read Part 1, you’ll know that my December holiday was the targeted period for weaning my almost 2 and a half year old addict off his dummy. The Hubster was pushing the idea a bit more than me. I was freaked out that I’d be the one dealing with a screaming child, while husband remained ensconced in the world of Xbox with his headphones on and unable to hear a damn thing.
|Big enough to mess with shongololos on the wall,
but baby-ish enough to be clutching his dummy and pillow.
But some of the reasons I knew it had to be done were: Ryder preferred to suck suck suck than talk, lots of people were commenting negatively about him still using it, he would wake up from sleep if the dummy fell out of his mouth, and he was developing that nasty protruding tongue habit, coupled with a lisp. (I see potential speech therapy in my future. Groan.)
I picked him up from mum’s house after work (nanny is on leave and we were finishing off our last few days at work, so grandparents to the rescue!). He had just gotten up from a long afternoon siesta with his ma (because you can always count on grandma to mess with the regular nap routines). They both filled me in on their busy day, my mum with her usual detailed descriptions, and Ryder in his pidgin English.
I saw his excitement and his distraction, and in that moment decided this was a great time for the dummy to go “missing” – i.e. when his days are filled with busy-ness with his Ma, and mummy and daddy are just about on holiday to keep at it.
There was no real strategy or forethought. I took his dummy from my mum and slipped it into my pocket (and by “pocket” I totally mean in my bra, because I am becoming an old Coloured woman and that’s just what old Coloured women do).
We got home and almost immediately he asked for it. I feigned shock and horror. “Oh no, we forgot it at Ma’s house! Ag, and now it’s too late to go back for it. Will you be OK until tomorrow, big boy?”. (and I have to admit I went that route because I wasn’t sure if I could hold out, and I needed it to still be available if all hell broke loose and he turned into Chucky and damn near killed his parents over his tragic loss).
There was wide-eyed confusion on his face, but he nodded and agreed. He asked for it about 3 more times that night, but each time I called on all my powers of distraction. I introduced him to the fun of jumping on the bed and having pillow fights (baaad move, because I had to do this a million times more over the next 3 days), we rolled and laughed and played.
Falling asleep was clearly hard for him. He had his pillow, one half of his power combo for soothing, but not the main ingredient. In between our reading, laughing, chatting and playing, he tossed, he turned, he put arb things into his mouth like his plastic drumstick and his fists. He chewed on the duvet. On the books. On parts of my body. Bit me in between. He kept looking in his bag and patting around on the bed, as if he might suddenly find the missing dummy and all would be well. It was honestly like watching a drug addict craving his fix.
Eventually, 1 and a half hours past his usual bedtime, he fell asleep at 9.30pm.
It was a fitful sleep with lots of tossing and turning, but he kinda slept through. At 4.20am, he finally cried and really wanted his good ol’ D. I soothed and comforted and patted, and he fell asleep again until 6.30am.
The first thing he asked when he woke up properly was “Where dummy mummy?”. I repeated the story about it being at Ma’s house. Obviously he then couldn’t wait to get to Ma’s house. When we got there I filled Mum in on the story. She asked where the D was, “just in case” and I told her she could take it out for him only if things got really bad. I didn’t have much faith that Mum would make it through, to be honest.
At about midday I checked in on them and Mum told me he had not asked for it at all and they’d even had a lovely long nap without him wanting it. I was shocked but thrilled.
When I picked him up after work, he was even more excited than the day before. Lots of gusto and long stories about his busy day at the pool with Ma and about them painting and having fun adventures. Was it just me or did this kid’s talking suddenly take a leap forward?
When we were leaving Mum’s house it was already 7pm and he was clearly tired, which is why he finally asked for the D after a long day of having forgotten about it. Mum told him a dodgy story of how a big black bird came into her kitchen and stole it off the table, and she was too scared to fight it off. Great. Now we’re cultivating ornithophobia and racism in him as well.
Night 2 was pretty much the same as night 1. My rehab boy was happy but edgy at bedtime, which was also as drawn out as the night before. But he slept right through and didn’t get up crying at all. We were making headway.
My last day at work. He mentioned the D word once that morning but he was so obviously less bothered by its absence. By Day 3, Hubster and I were certain of it – Ryder was talking heaps more, was more animated and active, and certainly not the docile child we thought we had. The running and climbing onto coffee tables are what led to a bump on the head that night, and in between his sobbing, he did ask for his beloved D once, but quickly got over it.
Otherwise there was happy screaming and non-stop chatter. He counted things out to himself, up to 10, he described items around him by size and colour, he sang along to nursery rhymes, he repeated everything we said, he was laughing and super chatty. Just on the whole, super duper cute.
I felt the twinges of guilt over being an enabling mum who potentially stifled his verbal and emotional development, but I pushed the thoughts aside, because he WAS once my baby who needed the comfort, but now that he’s my big boy it’s onward and upward from here.
Days 4 to 6
Over the weekend, Ryder did not ask for his dummy at all. He survived 2 mall trips of 5 hours (!!) and 3 hours respectively without any cravings. He shook Santa’s hand even though he was very weary of him. He went nuts in the malls, running and hiding from us (I will SO be looking for one of those controversial kiddie leashes, thank you very much). I thought I knew toddler action and tantrums. But nooooo. Ryder without the dummy is Ryder on steroids. Tantrums are now on another level, because there is no longer a crutch to fall back on. Days are busy and action-packed.
Today is now Day 7. One week later. I am absolutely certain he has no need for the D any longer. The accompanying pillow is also losing its value.
Like all the big bad things about motherhood that I hyped up in my head before tackling them, this process was actually a cinch.
I am so proud of my big boy for getting through this. I know it is an everyday thing and that loads of parents face much bigger and scarier experiences. But it’s still an achievement to me, and all part of molding me for the many more difficult parenting experiences I know still lie ahead.
Thank you for reading xx