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Broaching A Sensitive Subject

We have been talking to Quinn for weeks about giving up his "paci," dropping hints, making jokes, subtly referencing his status as Big Boy. We haven't worn him down one iota.* He holds his ground no matter what approach we take: "No! I want my paci! I like my paci! I'm not a baby yet!" That last part is confusing, and I think it pretty much sums up his entire identity crisis right now. He wants to be a big boy: hence, the "not a baby" portion. He doesn't want to give up the luxuries of babyhood: hence, the "yet" portion. I feel sympathetically amused every time he says it. (I know, that statement makes no sense: he's confused, I'm confused.)

We have yet to force the issue because we almost scarred the poor kid for life when in a fit of parental insanity during his toddlerhood, I decided on a random night that it was time for him to give it up. No warning, no discussion, just "Oops, the paci's gone! Look at that! Well, good night!" followed by the tortured wails of a completely confused and disoriented baby. During the crying and my simultaneous pulling out of all my own hair, John and I consulted the trusty Internet for advice, and learned that pacifiers, as long as they aren't in use all day and preventing a toddler from learning to speak properly, really pose no problem. Thumb and finger sucking is much worse in that thumbs can't be taken away EVER and the bone pressure on the teeth causes more potential long-term damage to a child's bite. Upon learning that set of facts, I returned Quinn's paci to him and he whimpered himself to sleep. Ever since then, I've been a little gun-shy about the whole paci issue.

He's three now, and still only uses the pacifier to go to sleep, never during the day or any awake time. His speech has developed normally (uh, yeah - we don't have any talking or yelling problems around here - you've noticed?), but - BUT - he does have an overbite the EXACT SAME size and shape of his pacifier. Hard to ignore. I've done a lot of research and continue to find medical advice consisting of the same facts I found two years ago - namely, as long as the child discontinues pacifier use by the age of four or five, permanent damage to the palate is not a risk. "Let the child give it up on his own" is what I keep reading. But I look at that overbite and it worries me. I'm pretty sure if I took him to a dentist or specifically asked the pediatrician about it, I'd get a hefty lecture. We don't want to turn it into a huge emotional issue for him, though, so we just keep talking about it, and haven't actually made any threatening moves yet. We're at a definite standstill.

Tonight I had an epiphany. The kid is obsessed with going to the fair, which happens around here in October. He's been talking about going to the fair since LAST October, about two days after we went. About four times a week at bedtime, he'll ask about it as I'm laying him down: "we go to the fair tomorrow?" Tonight after dinner as I rolled marbles and cars on the floor with the kids, Quinn asked about the fair. I said, "Hey! If you'll say goodbye to your pacis, then I'll be sure to take you to the fair when it comes!" He stopped, silent, and looked at me with a conflicted grin on his face, the wheels in his three-year-old brain turning. I kept talking, "the way you say goodbye to them is that you leave them for the Paci Fairy, and she leaves you a brand new soft, special toy that you can sleep with so you won't need a paci anymore..." Silence. Conflicted grin. Wheels turning. "What do you think about that??" He gave me a suspicious look: "A new toy?"

"Yeah! A new soft toy! Like a Teddy Bear! Don't your friends at school sleep with Teddy Bears?"

"Yeah. I could get a new Teddy Bear?"

"Totally! And then you wouldn't need the paci anymore, your friends at school don't use pacis, right?"

"No, they have Teddy Bears."

"Yeah! So you could have one too, and you could say goodbye to your paci."

I got stingy, and I pushed the subject too far, too fast, just like always. He slammed the door of opportunity hard on my face and said, "I don't want that stuff. I don't want a Teddy Bear anyway. I want my paci."

"Why do you like your paci?"

"Because! I like to put it in my mouth and go to sleep!"

Well, the kid knows what he needs. He knows where he stands. Even his deceptive, bribing mother can't sway him. I'm thinking in seven more months when he turns four, maybe I will have convinced him. I can still threaten not to take him to the fair, but we all know that's never going to happen.

*When I tried to type the word iota, it came out idiot - that should tell you something.