We recently had a visitor – the kind who sneaks in during the night and leaves toys. You guessed it, the Pacifier Fairy graced our presence just a few short weeks ago. What did she leave? An American Girl doll. Yes, a $105 doll. At the American Girl Store register, I checked my surroundings to make sure nobody I knew saw me buy this ridiculously expensive doll. That was before they gave me the gigantic American Girl shopping bag to carry her out to the mall. As I walked out to the parking lot, a perfect stranger said to me, “That’s a mighty expensive doll.” So much for deflecting comments.
My husband and I had decided that the doll was an investment. She won’t appreciate, but she is cheaper than the orthodontia our four-and-a-half-year-old daughter will need down the road if she doesn’t give up her pacifier. We may even be too late, but we’ve heard some success stories so here’s hoping. This is not our first attempt to abolish the Binky (see The Passion for the Pacifier, Lying, Cheating and Stealing, Banishing Bad Baby Behaviors). But so far, it’s the first one that really worked. Well, sort of.
The morning the Paci Fairy came and left the doll my daughter lit up like it was Christmas. Wide-eyed, she opened the doll’s box with her dad and marveled at her new best friend. When it was nap time, we instructed her to hold onto her doll really tight, and she’d fall asleep. And she did.
That night, she went to bed with her doll without much fuss. She hugged the doll and fell asleep again. The next day, when nap time came, she started asking for a pacifier. I said no, that’s why she had her doll, and if I caught her with a pacifier, I’d have to take the doll. She asked to sleep in our bed, and I let her. I went in to check on her, she’d stolen a pacifier from her brother. I took the pacifier and the doll and when she woke up, told her she’d lost the doll.
She cried. I really wanted this whole endeavor to be a success so I said she could have the doll back if she went 24 hours without a paci. She agreed, she did her 24-hour-stint and she got the doll back. After that, she kept asking for a pacifier at nap time and we kept explaining that if she wanted a pacifier, she didn’t want her doll. She kept choosing the doll.
A few days later, I found a purloined paci in her mouth during her nap. I confiscated it. We had agreed in advance and warned her that if we found her with a pacifier again she’d have to return the doll to the store. When she awoke, my husband and I told her we’d found the pacifier and she had to take the doll back to the store with Daddy. Hysterics. Full-blown hysterics. Sobbing, screaming, crying, punching, kicking. For at least an hour. My husband, who’d devised the return-to-the-store plan and wanted to carry it out on the first offense, felt bad and wanted to give her a way to earn back the doll. Finally we decided that she had to go paci-free for a month and she could get her doll back.
My husband helped her wrap the doll and put her back in the box to be put away. She told the doll goodbye for now, and that she’d be back, and we put the doll up in the closet. It’s been three weeks now, and my daughter’s been paci-free. At first, she’d ask for a pacifier, especially for naps, but I’d say, “I guess you don’t want your doll back,” and she’d stop.
She’s also stopped taking naps. I wasn’t ready for that. I wanted to believe that the Nap Fairy would somehow bring me naps without a paci. Turns out there is no Nap Fairy. I knew the end of the paci meant the end of naps as we knew them. It’s part of why I let her keep the paci for so long. Oh who am I kidding? It is why I let her keep the paci for so long.
She goes to bed at night earlier and easier now. She used to make countless trips into the living room, bugging her father until 11 p.m. every night, long after I’d gone to bed. Now she’s asleep at 8:30. Now my husband and I have some time together after both kids are in bed, which is nice. And he’s got some daddy time after I’ve gone to bed.
I’ve completely lost my mommy time in the afternoon. Her brother still naps at “her” nap time – something I worked hard to achieve – but now she’s up. I’m trying to make lemonade by taking the opportunity for special mother/daughter bonding, and it’s about time, apparently, since she outright asked for one-on-one time just the other week. I love the time we spend together, but now I’ve got no time to take care of me. I’m happy we’ve quit the paci, but I wish had my own Fairy. If you know of one, please send her my way.