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Who’s the sucker?

How many mouths has your child? A simple question but if the answer is “one” can someone please explain why my son has to go to bed with five dummies? Before I had children I hated dummies and to be honest I still think they look awful. I can’t help think of Maggie from The Simpsons whenever I see a child sucking away on their favourite soother. I am still of the opinion that it’s better to have a thumb sucker – I know you can’t take a thumb away but it’s also a lot harder to do a lot of things with a thumb in your mouth (bit like walking round with one hand tied behind your back) whereas a dummy is no barrier to everyday life so there is no incentive for a child to give it up. But, like all the best laid plans of those without kids, I found myself reaching for the dummy when both my children came along.

My daughter loved her dummy, she only had it at night but once the last chords of the Cbeebies bedtime song had played she practically galloped up the stairs to get it. She was a good sleeper but we’d introduced the dummy when I had to go into hospital for a series of operations when she was very tiny and it seemed to settle her when I wasn’t around. Time passed and I planted the seed in her mind about the dummy fairy (the long lost cousin of the tooth fairy) who would come one night and whisk her dummy away, leaving a little gift in it’s place. Knowing how much she loved the dummy I imagined it would be a nightmare to get rid of it but one night we couldn’t find it, I was tired and at the end of my tether so refused to look for it and miracle of all miracles she fell asleep without it! A few strategically placed little gifts at the end of the bed were enough to convince her the dummy fairy had been and she never asked for it again.

But now we come to my son. As you already know he didn’t sleep well for the first two years of his life so having a dummy was a no brainer (and one of the many things we tried to get him to nod off!) Now he can sleep as well as any teenager but as we hurtle towards his third birthday he still has a dummy – well I tell a lie, he has one dummy in his mouth, one in each hand and two on his pillow! I have no idea how we came to this. I can only imagine I agreed to this strange hoarding in my most sleep deprived state . Needless to say, gathering his dummies around him is now as much part of his night time routine as a story and a cuddle. After feeling the pain of no sleep for so long I’m simply too chicken to break the cycle yet. I have tried introducing the dummy fairy story but I’m not sure she could carry the amount of gifts he would need to give it up  (I am now considering introducing the dummy dinosaur to the house in a desperate bid to appeal to this Barney-loving boy!)

The moral of this story is before you are faced with the latest parenting situation/nightmare you will have preconceived ideas about how you will deal with it, whether it’s tantrums in the supermarket or bullying in the playground. But please forget everything you think you know or believe in. When it comes down to it, we all  do what we have to in order to survive the next hour or day with a smile in place and some sense of order. To do that and stick to your guns all the time takes a real mummy fairy!

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