Nothing personal—it’s not like I’ve met her, or anything. But her little winged presence has been lurking over our house for years now, and the more I think about her inevitable visit, the more I resent her. Sneaks inside in the middle of the night, steals E’s most beloved possession without a second thought, leaves behind some pink plastic thing that E will play with for two seconds and forget about while nursing emotional scars that could last a lifetime?
No, thanks. Not for us.
If you’re doing the math, yes: E’s four. She should have given up the pacifier, otherwise known as her “pop,” years ago. She was never a heavy user, just a consistent one. Pops never came to preschool or the park or the beach, even when she was infant. She stopped using them in the car at three, and since then there’s just a lone pink one left, lurking around her bedroom, standing by for emergencies like nightmares and naps and fights with her baby brother.
Yes, as her mother, I should have made it disappear. But we had lots of reasons and excuses and explanations for why she got to keep it a just a little bit longer. She needed it to fall asleep during naps. We were doing a lot of travelling; she’d want it for the plane. She never used it overnight, like most kids did, so really she’d banked hundreds of extra hours of authorized use. Right?
The truth was, we simply weren’t ready. Either of us. And just like sleep training—though it works for so many other children and their parents— the Pacifier Fairy wasn’t right for us, either.
But E’s four now. She just started transitional kindergarten. She’s giving up her nap. She can write her own name. She said goodbye to overnight Pull-Ups and brushes her teeth without being told. Her pop days are over, whether we like it or not.
We had a visit to the dentist who, in a loving pediatric dentist kind of way, gently explained all the reasons E would need to say goodbye to her pop, like “sugar bugs” and big kid teeth needing room to grow. She suggested giving it to a baby who needed it, or leaving it behind in her office next time we visited. When she started talking about the Pacifier Fairy, though, I made a zip it gesture and steered E out of the exam room.
We need a Pacifier Fairy alternative. A Plan B. That callous, security-stealing, bait-and-switch without-sticking-around-for-the-fallout winged nuisance just isn't welcome in our house. Who’s to say there is no lasting emotional damage from having a “fairy” (and E LOVES fairies! Imagine the horror when that bubble bursts!) break into your house, steal from you while you’re sleeping, and force you to say goodbye to an entire phase of childhood a mere twelve hours later?
Like I said. Nothing personal, Pacifier Fairy...
But you’re fired.
I feel good, like I’ve taken a stand. Should a mom who admittedly sucked her own thumb until she was (ahem) nine years old be allowed to take such a stand? Perhaps not. But looking at the situation objectively, separating my own issues from E’s (or at least trying really hard to)...I know what’s right for my kid, and making her quit the pacificier cold turkey isn’ t it.
E is old enough to understand why she’s outgrown her pop. She’s learning new ways to feel safe and comforted. Not that “pacifiers are for babies” or that she’s “too big for things like that now.” Growing up is hard enough; there are so many tough lessons to learn that can’t be sugarcoated or overridden by Mommy. There are so few times in life when we celebrate the passage of time the way we should. I don’t want her to hate being four because it meant being forced to let go of something she loved. I don’t want her to resent being a big kid because the transition was traumatic instead of triumphant.
I want ditching the pop to be a rite of passage she chooses for herself, not something that was stolen from her in the middle of the night.
So today we made a “pop” box. A small wooden box, shaped like a heart, that E and I painted and glittered and decorated with sparkly jewels. We talked while we worked. About things she loved about being a baby and the things she loves about being “big.” We talked about all the things she will do when she’s even bigger. We talked about why the pop has to go into the box, and how it will be hers to keep, like a treasure. And if she ever needs to see her pop again, to remind herself of the feelings she had when she sucked on it, it will be right there in the box, for her to touch and hold and remember. But not to use.
Will she be tempted to use the pop when no one’s looking? Maybe. I know I’m taking a risk by not removing it from the premises like I’m supposed to. The Pacifier Fairy’s solution is permanent; mine may not be. A sneaky suck or two probably won’t happen because she’s just that kind of kid-literal, like me. But if it does happen, the world will keep on spinning. I may look back and think wow, firing the Pacifier Fairy was the dumbest thing I ever did, like I do with so many other parenting ideas that seem brilliant at the time and totally idiotic in hindsight. But for now, we are sticking with the plan. The pop is boxed (and there is so much purple glitter glue inside that box it might never dry, which will make sneaking a suck or two even less desirable and possibly toxic, a fact I’ve pointed out to E.)
I’m proud of us both for finding a way that feels right. I’m proud of us both for letting go.
No fairy required.
available on Amazon here. For a less girly option, try this one.