See this peaceful little thing? You want to know what was different about her last night than any of the 1,305 nights before last night?
If you rolled her over, you would see chubby little cheeks and long dark lashes resting on those cheeks…or more likely, a massive amount of dark, knotted hair obscuring your view of any of this because her Mama forgot to tie it back before bed. You know what you wouldn’t see anymore? A pacifier.
Yup, she's 3 1/2 and yup she still had a pacifier… until last night.
See, sometimes you just gotta go with things the way your kids show you they need you to.
Like how I've pretty much resigned myself to the fact that between my two boys, the likelihood of being woken every night by one of them or sometimes both of them, is quite high.
For the toddler, usually it's in the form of a high-pitched "MAAAMAA I UP," in the middle of the night. His squeaky voice will progressively get louder and higher pitched, until ultimately it wakes up the entire house. The only way it will stop is if I drag my ass out of bed, go into his room and assure him that it is, in fact, still the middle of the night and NOT time to get up.
For the big kid, it usually means being startled awake in the middle of a deep slumber to find him standing by my bed, staring at me. Just standing there. Staring at me. Like something out of a freaky-ass horror movie. After shitting myself, I'll say "what's wrong buddy," to which his usual response is, "I can't sleep." Can't sleep as in you've instead been standing there for an hour, just staring at me? I hate horror movies for good reason.
So when this little girl came into our lives and slept through the night from only a couple months old, it was like a dream that I never ever thought I'd be privy to. She's a play-hard, sleep-hard type of chick. Her feet and her mouth are always going a million miles a minute; but when she's out, she's out.
And although she is a drastically different sleeper than her brothers, she has shared the same love of a pacifier. As she’s gotten older, the “paci” became a “ninny,” (easier to say) and the ninny doubled to one in her mouth and a second smooshed up against her nose. Somehow, the feel of cold, hard plastic against her nostrils has provided a weird comfort to her.
And while she hasn’t used it during the day in a very long time, come bedtime it has been the first thing she's asked for. Over the past few months, we’ve increasingly talked with her about giving it up. And while the thought of being a “big kid” like her older brother has been enticing, it hasn’t been enough for her to want to take the plunge.
So we haven’t pushed it. We kept telling each other, she’ll do it when she’s ready, right? She started peeing on the potty only when she was ready, so why push the ninny?
And let’s be honest- what kind of crazy-ass parent would willingly push their only great sleeper over the edge into a possible sleepless meltdown?
Yesterday afternoon, when my kids saw their beloved Ms. T pull into her driveway and get out of her car, they banged on the glass storm door, jumping up and down in excitement like they hadn't seen her in years. Only a cold-hearted person would ignore that kind of cuteness, so of course Ms. T walked over to come in and say hello.
My girl, in her sweet little voice, promptly told Ms. T that “I big now, I not need my ninny.” When my husband suggested, as he’s done many times before, that if she really doesn’t need them, she should give them to Ms. T, she disappeared into her room for a second, marched back out with said ninnies in hand and gave them to Ms. T with NO HESITATION and a sly little smile on her face.
Come bed time, there was no fuss, no tears, no fighting. I could see a passing look of worry on her face, but I could also see that the desire to be a “big girl” was overpowering the worry. We watched on the monitor as she tossed and turned a few times, spurted off a few random and unintelligible things, sat up once and then laid back down and passed out. When she emerged from her room this morning, she had a huge smile on her face and immediately made sure to tell me that her little brother was a baby, but she was surely not one anymore. Cue this mama fighting back tears and swallowing the lump in my throat.
Now, of course, it’s only been one night. Who knows what we are in for tonight, as I’m sure that not having a nap and the random chance that it was daylight savings time ensured that she was especially sleepy at bedtime. There will likely still be some future asking for it; maybe even some tears and regret that she handed them off (for both of us).
But she did it and she did it in her own time.
...of course, the “prize” she was promised in return for giving up her ninnies probably helped some too. A big win for bribery over here.
Time to take a trip to Target!