I remember reading Nina's post about Lucia saying goodbye to the pacifier a few weeks back and sighing whistfully. If only it would be that easy for Dylan to stop using his beloved "Soska" (Russian for pacifier). I knew I was in for a battle.
We'd been talking to Dylan about saying goodbye to his "Soska" for months and months. We read Pacifiers Are Not Forever over and over. We kept telling him he was a big boy now, and big boys don't use "Soskas." We pointed out the fact that none of his friends used "Soskas" anymore. Still, Dylan refused to hand over his pacifier. And I didn't have the heart to take it away from him.
The reason for this was twofold. First, I wanted Dylan to have his "Soska" and his blankie with him in the recovery room after surgery. I felt it was very important for him to have that comfort, and the idea of taking his pacifier away from him prior to surgery just seemed downright cruel to me. The second reason for my hesitation was my own traumatic experience having my pacifier taken away from me.
I admit, at age four or five, I was waaaaaay too old to be using a pacifier, but there I was. I hadn't used one for years, but when someone gave me a real one to use as a toy, I popped it in my mouth and there it stayed for the next few months. My parents threatened, my brother taunted, but nothing would make me take off my beloved "bobo."
One day, I came home from school and raced to my room to get my pacifier, as usual, but it wasn't on my bed. I looked all over the room, then the rest of the house. After a while, my brother called to me from the kitchen, saying he had found it. I happily raced to him, my mouth open. As I approached him, my brother popped the "bobo" into my mouth.
My tongue burned. My eyes watered. The smell of the Tabasco sauce my brother had put in my pacifier went all the way up my nose, making me gag and cry out at the same time. It was agonizing. I had never tasted anything so startlingly unlike what I expected in my entire life. I never touched my pacifier again. To this day, I can't stand even the smell of Tabasco sauce.
I did not want Dylan to have his pacifier taken away from him before he was ready, as had been done to me. I just kept telling him he needed to say goodbye to it soon but could not bring myself to take any action further than that. Then, last Friday, as Bill was going to put Dylan down for the night, he took the pacifier out of Dylan's mouth and said "Let's just try to sleep without it and see what happens, OK?"
I braced myself for tears. For tantrums. For a long, sleepless night dealing with a heartbroken boy crying over his "Soska." None of that ever happened.
Dylan did cry once that first night at 2 am, but we managed to get him back to sleep without much fuss, and that was it. He has not lost his nap. He has not had a problem going to sleep at night. He does ask for his "Soska" every so often, but when we tell him it's gone, he just shrugs and goes about his day.
I suppose I shouldn't be this amazed. He pulled this same thing during potty training. After one disastrous attempt at the beginning of the year, I gave up the fight. We kept showing him the potty training videos and reading the books, but he seemed content with his Pull-Ups and showed no interest in the potty. Then, two weeks before our last trip to Puerto Rico, he woke up one morning and said he wanted to wear big boy undies. Oh boy, I thought. Here we go again. This is going to be bad.
It was as though he had been wearing underwear all his life.
Looking back, I can think of a couple more instances when Dylan's reaction to big changes completely surprised me: changing from a crib to a toddler bed, moving from the baby room to his "big boy" room, even leaving the baby house and coming to live with us. I expected struggles and a long adjustment period, and Dylan didn't even bat an eye.
So am I going to just assume Dylan will do well with life changes from now on? Probably not, knowing me. If there is one thing I've learned, though, it's this: never think you know how your child is going to react to something. He will always, always amaze you.