Bye-Bye Binky

It's been a rough day. For Abigail anyway. If you know Abigail, you know she has an undying love for her binkies. All of them. Most nights she goes to sleep with no less than 3. Abigail came to our little family sooner than I ever expected to have another child. She was born into a lot of chaos, run mainly by a high maintenance older sister. Many times I was so busy taking care of that high maintenance sister, that Abigail was left in a bouncy chair, crib, the floor, anywhere really, with her binky. She never grew attached to any blankets or toys, but oh boy did she love that binky. She's always gone right to sleep, at night, in the middle of the day, whenever I put her in any bed at all... as long as she had her binky. Long car rides are a breeze - as long as Abigail doesn't lose her binky. So getting to the rough day part... this morning Abigail woke up like any other day. She had her precious binky in her mouth, and we read some books. But then she couldn't find her binky. She had a major meltdown. She put it down somewhere and couldn't find it, and she just flipped.
      Now see, the binky and I have had a love-hate relationship. I love the way it calms her - I hate having to find them a million times a day. We tried letting her have it only in her bed. But that got too difficult since she's no longer in a crib. She would constantly sneak binkies out of her room. And then lose them. And then come bed time or nap time I became a frantic lunatic trying to find binkies. After the meltdown this morning, I had just had enough. We need less things to throw fits about around here. So I told Aaron, "I think this is it. I am DONE with binkies." I am sure Aaron didn't believe a word of it, since I have probably said that 100 times in the past six months. And really when I said it, I wasn't sure I believed myself. But I thought about an idea I had heard from someone somewhere. They told me that they took their child to the store and let them pick out a toy, and then to pay for the toy the child gives the cashier the pacifier. And that's it. No more pacifiers ever.
     I told this clever idea to Abigail. I asked her if she'd like to go buy a new toy with her binky. I was expecting a big fat no, but was pleasantly surprised that she agreed. I emphasized the fact that this was it. No more binkies, ever. I think we said it enough that she really got it. So we got to the store and she picked out a Webkinz lion toy and a Dora book. I let her pick two since... well did you read my first paragraph about this girl's love affair with rubber and plastic?! She happily handed over the binky to the cashier. The whole way home she talked about how she was a big girl like Olivia now. And not a baby like Nathan. I was really impressed that she really seemed to get it.
        Well then came nap time. I talked a lot about how she wouldn't have any more binkies. And she was still okay. She hopped right into her bed and said, "No more binkies, Mama! Night night!"
        If only the story could end right there.
        I couldn't believe it was that easy. But I hoped. So I went downstairs and started cleaning and entertaining Olivia when I started to hear some quiet sobbing. That progressively got louder. I went into Abigail and she was just sobbing into her pillow. I scooped her up and put her on my lap on the rocking chair. She didn't say anything, just cried. I stroked her hair and told her it was okay. She pulled her little body away from me, and looked up at me with tear filled eyes and said between sobs, "Mommy... I want... my... binkyyyyyyy."
      My heart broke. I wanted to run and search to the ends of the earth to find her a binky. But I didn't want to teach her to set a goal and then give up the moment it gets hard. I wanted her to learn she could do hard things. And I wanted her to know I knew it was hard. I shed a few tears myself as I stroked her hair and told her that I knew she wanted her binky. I told her she could do it. I told her she could do hard things. I reminded her of yesterday, and how she climbed this really high rock wall all by herself. How scary and hard it was at first. But then she did it. I told her that falling asleep without her binky was just like climbing up that rock wall the first time. It is hard. But she can do hard things.
      So she never took a nap. She had quiet time for an hour, but never fell asleep. I was okay with that. And I hoped it would mean an easier bed time tonight.
       We took the kids to the park tonight. Back to the rock wall. Abigail proudly told a friend that we saw there, "I can do hard things!". It made my heart do a little happy dance. She knew she could do something hard. I had been wondering if maybe she was too young to learn this lesson. Maybe I should just make life easier for everyone and give her the darn binky. But what message does that teach her? Life isn't easy. And she can do hard things. I felt like her exclaiming this at the park was confirmation that I was doing the right thing.
        Again tonight she was okay going to bed. It was a few minutes later that she started to cry. She didn't even ask for her binky, she cried and told me that she missed it. I reminded her again that she could do hard things. She wiped her tears and nodded. I stroked her hair and prayed with her that she would feel comforted. I sang her a few songs. She asked to wear my necklace. I gave it to her, along with a million kisses.
        And then it was quiet. She fell asleep. Without her binky. My baby girl can do hard things. And she knows it. By letting her overcome this trial I am teaching her how strong she is. I am giving her confidence that no one will ever be able to take away. Not by telling her how amazing she is. But by letting her experience something hard. Right now it's a binky. In a few years it may be mean words from friends, and a few years from then maybe a broken heart from some stupid guy. Hopefully the message she will continue to learn is that she can do hard things.


Staci said...

way sweet post she acted super happy to show her prize too

Lindsay Topolewski said...

what an awesome idea to have her turn her binky into something else like money....way to go Abigail and way to go Lauren!!

alliopie said...

Beautifully written Lauren - as always. You have a gift! And GOOD FOR YOU!! Binky take a way time is always so hard - for both mom and child. Good for you for sticking to it and teaching her that lesson. The way you phrased it to her was beautiful and will stay with her - like at the park "I can do hard things!" How many 2 year olds do you know who go around telling people that? Pretty impressive.