When my first baby was born I had a fear of the pacifier. I thought that if I gave it to him he would continue to want it until he finally succumbed to peer pressure on his first night in a college dormitory. I restricted it’s use to bedtime. As an infant he used it whenever he was going to fall asleep. Then it only appeared in his crib.
Unfortunately he never got the hang of retrieving it on his own and getting it back into his mouth. And because I like sleep — sleep which is not interrupted by getting out of bed every half hour to put the damn thing back into his mouth — he was quickly weened from the pacifier all together over a single night of wailing. All before he was 18 months old.
I believed that I had some control over his pacifier use. (And maybe I did…as evidenced by the abrupt weening I forced on him.) I believed that if you don’t want your child to want a pacifier, you just don’t give them one. I believed that if you want your children to eat healthfully, you only give them healthy foods. I believed that if you want your children to only sleep in their own beds, you only put them in their beds and not in yours.
Well, I was kidding myself.
My second little angel is a pacifier hog. He LOVES his “ba”. He likes it to sleep with, to wake up with, to drive in the car with, to hang around the house with. “I need my BAAAA!” he yells. Fortunately at 2-and-a-half he seems to be self-weening. He doesn’t ask for it as often and can happily play for hours, ba-free. But it’s still there…way past the point I am comfortable with.
Healthy meals is another area we have little control over. Introduce your child to french fries once and they become the preferred vegetable. And when your toddler wakes up in the middle of the night do you want to struggle for hours trying to get them back to sleep in their own beds, or will you give in to your own need to sleep and let them in your bed for the night?
I would like to now publicly apologize to every mother I quietly judged for giving her child chicken nuggets for dinner more often then not (or in our house, “macaroni and meatballs”). I’m sorry to the parents I judged for letting their 4 year old sleep in bed with them. And to the parents I shook my head at when I saw their preschooler walking around with a pacifier. I have become a parent. The one thing I do know now is that I know absolutely nothing.
(This post originally appeared on Jen’s blog, Mama Sketch.)