We recently (FINALLY!) said good-bye to our 3 year old's "sucky." This was a HUGE ordeal! Joey loved his sucky. LOVED his sucky. From the first day in the hospital, he took to it. When he was older, he even named one of his imaginary friends "Sucky Suck" after it. We had planned to wean it down to nap time and bed time, and then the "Sucky Fairy" would trade him a big boy bike for it when he turned 3. Keeping sucky for sleeping time wasn't too difficult. Although, I admit, I kept one in my diaper bag for times like the tail end of church. (The evil stares -- imagined or otherwise -- from those disapproving of my almost 3 year old with a soother in his mouth were still less disconcerting than my tired and cranky child yelling at everyone to "STOP SINGING!" -- true story, that actually happened once).
We started talking about the "Sucky Fairy" and the big boy bike. Joey was excited and happy. Then, as he realized that this would mean his beloved suckies would be gone, he started becoming upset.
"I'm not a big boy! I just a yittle boy! I don't want a big boy bike! I want my suckies!" he would wail pitifully. We started finding his soothers hidden all over the house. He had little "sucky stashes" just in case the Sucky Fairy came. It did not help that by this point, his baby brother was about to be born.
We had Benjamin two months before Joey's third birthday. It became apparent to us that having Joey give up his suckies while he was adjusting to a new brother was not the smartest thing. So we put off the Sucky Fairy; and I must admit, I was almost as relieved as Joey. There were a few reasons for this:
First, the sucky ensured peace and quiet at least two times a day from at least one of my children. This is worth more than any amount of money to anyone with a newborn. Especially -- and ironically -- a newborn who wouldn't take a soother.
Second, I had a blankie growing up. I understood his attachment. I understood the solace and comfort that an object could provide. My blankie had held a place in my heart (and my bed) longer than I care to admit. I remember coming home from rough days at school and curling up in bed with my blankie for a cry. If I was honest, I was unwilling to take this kind of comfort away from him.
So we waited. Joey was approaching the 3 and a half mark. We noticed that his teeth were shifting. I started sneaking into his room at night after he was asleep and taking the soother out and placing it beside his bed so he wouldn't suck it all night. Then he began to forget to ask for it when he went to bed, and I didn't offer it to him. It was time.
As an experiment, I cut a small hole at the base of one to see if he'd still take it. Nap time came and I handed Joey the "experimental" sucky. He popped it in his mouth, and then pulled it out, frowning, "There's a hole in it."
"Hm!" I took it from him and inspected it. "Looks like you sucked a hole in it. Huh! Well is it okay, or do you want another one?"
"I want another one."
And so Operation Sucky began. Systematically, every day or two, another of his suckies would end up with a hole in it and get tossed out, until we were down to the last one. We cuddled up in bed with his teddy and his robe for nap time. He was happily sucking on his last sucky and I let him know, "When there is a hole in that sucky, I'm not buying any more. If you're sucking holes in your suckies, it's because you're getting too big for them." Joey was okay with that. I think that, in his mind, he decided he wasn't going to suck any holes in them.
After his nap, while he was playing outside with Daddy, I took a pair of scissors up to his room. Guiltily, I cut a hole in his last sucky. A whole gamut of emotions ran through me: sadness -- for his loss, guilt -- for my role in it and at my deception, and fear -- that we were opening the door to afternoons and nights of endless screaming for his best friend. Oh yes, there was FEAR. In my mind, this could be the end of the little peace I had left.
He didn't ask for it until nap time the next day. There were tears, there was yelling. But, it wasn't as bad as I thought. Truth be told, I was used to tears and yelling. Eventually, I laid down with him and he fell asleep.
It was when he woke up and sleepily came down the stairs, that the reality of the situation hit me. There was a third reason why I was so reluctant to take the sucky away. Normally, I would watch my cute, ruffled-haired, bleary-eyed toddler come down the stairs -- his rosy cheeks sticking out of either side of his soother. This day, my sleepy PRESCHOOLER came down the stairs -- his hair still sticking out all over the place, his eyes still bleary, and his cheeks still rosy. However, that last vestige of babyhood was gone. He was, indeed, a big boy.
I'm not going to lie, he's starting to give up naps now that he doesn't have his soother. There have been times when I've been tempted to run out and grab him another one just so he'll sleep in the afternoon. But we've turned that corner, and there's no going back. To be honest, I don't really want to.
Now... for potty training...