Monday, May 28, 2012

Bye Bye Binky!

A few months ago, there was a furious exchange of texts between Boos Mom and Mammo. The gist of the conversation was "OMG! Elmo is giving up his binky on Sesame Street!!!" We were especially excited about this because Boo was LONG overdue to give up his binky as well. We had worked our way down to convincing him that he could ONLY use it for bedtime, and only while laying in his bed. No mid-day rest time on the couch, no using it to soothe after a meltdown or injury. I comforted myself with the idea that most of the time, once he fell asleep, the binky would fall out of his mouth, so the amount of damage being done to his mouth/teeth was minimal. Of course, I knew this was a giant load of crap, but it made me feel better. Besides, I was making no inroads at all into the idea of giving up the binky completely, and I knew instinctively that this was not a battle I should choose.

Boo has never been motivated by the idea of being a "big kid" or growing up. (With the exception of being thoroughly convinced that he would gain overnight the ability to beat his classmate in a foot race once he turned five.) I had been unable to find anything that would motivate him at all toward the idea of giving up the binky. I approached all the old standby stuff, the binky fairy, taking it away cold turkey, etc. The only one I didn't do was to cut off the tip, because again, I knew instinctively that doing so would produce a bedtime $%*! storm. So Mammo and I watched him watch Elmo talk about this milestone and chewed our fingernails in hope. We hoped that this song would worm its way into his mind like it did ours, and the idea would start to take root.

After I knew he had seen the segment a few times, I started to introduce the idea that someday he wouldn't need his binky anymore. It was a gentle thing. Never asked him to give it up NOW. But I knew his birthday was coming soon. So when I gave him the bink at bedtime I started to tell him that "one day you will be so big that you won't need this anymore." I left it at that. Then after a while, I mentioned that babies use binkies and big kids don't, and one day he would be big enough not to need it. Every time I used this sort of language I used it while giving him the binky so that he didn't feel that he was being pressured to let it go now. Just trying to get him thinking about it. It's all baby steps! After a while, I tried applying a time stamp to this concept. I suggested that when he turned five he wouldn't need the binky anymore. That's when I started to see resistance, so I backed off a bit. I didn't talk about it every night, but did mention it a few more times. But the resistance got stronger, so I stopped talking about it. The last thing I wanted to do was create anxiety surrounding his birthday and suck the joy out of turning five. So I stopped talking about it.

Then, the night before his birthday, I got ballsy brave. As I handed him the binky, I reminded him that the next day he would be five. I then simply asked him "So what will that mean tomorrow night?" To my astonishment, he replied "I won't need my binky." He was so matter-of-fact about it. I was stunned and proud. But also, I knew better. I knew there was no way it was going to be that easy. The day that he officially turned five was a big and fun day! By bedtime, Boo was exhausted. I took a deep breath, and when he asked for his binky, I reminded him that he was five now, and therefore did not need it. He began to cry and beg, but not as badly as I anticipated. We managed to compromise by allowing him to use it while we read books, and then put it away for sleep. So on his fifth birthday he fell asleep without the binky. He did cry about it a bit, and asked for it several times. He told me repeatedly that his mouth was uncomfortable. But he fell asleep.

The next night, I refused to give it to him during book time. I explained that now that he is a big kid, the bink, which is made for babies, can damage his teeth if he continues to use it. This threw him for a loop. I could see he was really considering that. He did not like the idea of any "damage" to his body. We somehow managed to get through bedtime without much credible resistance. It helped also that once again, it had been a big day, and he was extra tired. Over the next week, his requests for the binky quickly dwindled. It didn't take long for him to quit mentioning it at all. When he did, he insisted that his mouth was uncomfortable, and asked me "what am I going to munch on?" But it never once came to the point of a meltdown, or even a credible threat of one. Not even so much as a tantrum. I was stunned. I made one facebook post about it on the night of his birthday, but other than that I maintained public silence on the issue. I didn't want to press my luck, or to eat my words. I wasn't sure this would hold.

I hid all the binkies in my sock drawer where he would happen to see him and be reminded of them, but where they would be easily accessible in the event of a middle-of-the-night binky emergency. I haven't taken them out since. Every week or so Mammo would tentatively ask me "is he still going to bed without the bink?" Yep! We were both proud and amazed, but also kind of waiting for the other shoe to fall. Well, tonight will be the 25th night in a row that my Boo goes to sleep with nothing in his mouth but what God gave him. I didn't think I would ever see this day happen. I'm so proud of Boo, and so thankful that I was so lucky.

How about you? Did you/your child have difficulties giving up certain aspects of baby-hood? Share your stories with me!

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