Operation Lose the Pacifier: Is There Really a Winner in this War?

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Have you ever known an addict who just begged you for another hit of whatever they’re into, and they cry and whine and plead and promise things and you just get really worn out from being a sober companion? Do you seriously consider giving in so you can get one freaking evening to yourself without all the crying and calling and yelling already?

Congratulations. You know what it’s like to break a three-year-old of his precious pacifier.

Pacifier Graveyard
Credit: jakecaptive.

I know there are probably those parents out there who have not had to fight this particular battle. Perhaps they just instruct their mild-mannered kids that the Magical Passy Fairy scooped up all the little suckers and it’s all just a glittery land of nod for all. Or maybe you sliced the big fat plug of plastic with scissors to ruin all the sucking fun and your child just chucked them by the bedside as they drifted peacefully to sleep dreaming of turtles. Or maybe you just went cold turkey and it wasn’t a big deal Well right now I’m hating on all you people because this is WAR I tell you, and I’m so losing. Well I’m winning, actually, because there’s no passy around, but my emotional health and sanity is gone, so who’s the real winner?

It starts off at 7:30, with a lovely hot bubble bath to calm down the soul. Then we brush brush and off to bed with jammies and smiles spit spot, chop chop, like Mary Poppins on her very best night. My daughter just dutifully crawls into bed with classic novels and turns off her own light when she’s done and I’m sitting in bed reading to my son. “One more,” he demands. I give in, because of course reading is always a winner and I’ll just read as much as he wants because vocabulary’s a win and illiteracy’s a loss and so we read about trucks and trains and pigs and sheep and finally after seven books I’m like, "Mommy’s tired, kid. Lay the heck down."

But then comes the “please don’t leave me” bit around 8:15 pm, because apparently in another life I abandoned him along the roadside and he was raised temporarily by a pack of gypsies and ended up in Pensacola, so he is deathly afraid I’ll leave him again when the lights go off, so I have to reassure him that I’m sitting right outside and won’t get in my car for a Starbucks run. He quiets. It’s 8:30, and I’m golden.

Until at 8:32 when he suddenly remembers. "My beloved and cherished passy! It’s miiiissing!" Has he told me lately how much he wants it? Has he screamed at me thirty-seven times to find it, or to look for it, or that the loss of this plug has caused a deep wound in his heart? Apparently not! Yay for reminders! I pour a glass of wine and breathe deep.

9:00 pm rolls around and my son comes wobbling in, exhausted beyond belief. He just can’t sleep, he says. I explain that sleeping’s hard when you’re screaming, or yelling for momma, and perhaps just laying there is a better option. He looks at me like I’m some sort of alien. "Uh, hello there, you moron. Did I remind you that my passy’s missing?" Yeah. You mentioned it.

So at 9:45, folks, I’m really worn down. I’ve patted and tucked and loved and kissed. I’ve convinced him I’m not putting him up for adoption and that he’s not ending up in a van and yes I’ll open the door or sit right here or scratch your back or sing you lullabies and, hells bells, I have a life -- please for the love just close your eyes and go to sleep.

There really needs to be an AA program for passys. I’m a terrible sober companion. I think it’s just called “growing up,” but seriously. It seems like a long way away from here.


Amanda Hill (writer, mother, lawyer, cancer survivor, and laughter lover)


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