Tough Love

The signs had been there for quite some time. She was increasingly agitated when she couldn’t get her fix. She needed to score to take the edge off of difficult emotions. She denied she had a problem and, when using, she would smile the smile of the drugged. It was becoming a problem and, finally, we had to admit it to ourselves before we could help her. That’s always the way it goes for families…they deny and they bargain but, eventually, they have to face the facts. We did this last week and decided that Friday we would stage an intervention. On Friday, we took away Zeca’s pacifiers.

She is not yet 2 so we decided not to tell her and hoped she wouldn’t notice. Why would she notice the absence of that which has comforted her every night for the past 630 or so nights that make up the entirety of her existence? We read her books and sang her songs and then put her into her bed. It was all going well and then, she held up her tiny index finger and said, “Just a minute…I am looking for my pacifier”. We looked at each other, the ceiling, and the floor before we cleared our throats and said, “The pacifiers are gone”. She ignored us and continued her frantic search for her pacifier. We watched helplessly as she became increasingly upset and muttered to herself, “I can’t see it…I can’t see it…I can’t see my pacifier”. It was time for tough love. We repeated with a conviction we didn’t feel, “Honey, the pacifiers are gone. They went bye bye.” She began to sob, not the sob of despair. No, our little girl sobbed the sob of anger, the sob of injustice, the sob that says “You better give me back my pacifiers before I smother you both in your sleep with my Whoozit!” Young children can be so unreasonable. There we were…acting in her best interests, being all calm and loving, and she would have traded both of us for one more hit of the baby crack. I could imagine her skulking outside of day care centers offering our jewelry to children with Avent plugs. We had no choice. Luisa tucked her into her bed and we went downstairs to call Pacifiers Anonymous. She cried for an hour and each time we went to comfort her, she begged for the pacifier. As we contemplated a long, sleepless night, we considered giving it back. We hadn’t thrown them away because I still remember my father describing the night he and my mother took away my pacifier when I was cough 5. My father spent the wee hours of that night shopping for pacifiers at convenience stores. So, we had them but, somehow, we stayed strong. It was probably the liquor. Anyway, she finally fell asleep and we smiled at each other and said naïve things like, “Oh, the worst is over” and “That wasn’t so bad” and “This really is for the best”. We went to bed feeling that we had won Round 1. We had no way of knowing that Round 2 would begin at 5 a.m. on Saturday morning with the cheerful words, “I can’t find my pacifier. Where’d it go?” She did not go back to sleep that morning. This morning was no better - she woke us at 12:45 a.m., 2:30 a.m., 3:30 a.m. and 5:15 a.m. And what did she say every single time? That’s right. She said, “Pacifiers all gone. Pacifiers went bye bye. I can’t see it. Where’d my pacifier go?” I’m sure it’s for the best that, flush from our success on Friday night, we threw all of the pacifiers in the trash yesterday and took the trash out. It’s for the best. Really, it’s for the best. Really.

Kristin said...

She can always call me. I am an enabler.

12:59 PM

Colleen said...
I guess I am too Kristin. I allow my child a secret fix here and there. I am so ashamed!

1:48 PM

sarah said...
great post vikki. i can identify, on several levels...this too shall pass. if not, there is always pas-anon

1:59 PM

Susan said...
i still sleep with my pacifier.

9:03 PM

Anonymous said...
i want my nookie!!!!now!!! peace & love leigh

11:09 AM