Because I am a masochist, I decided to tackle the trifecta of potentially explosive toddler rites of passage in a single month: potty-training, first haircut, and binky-weaning.
As you know potty-training and Isabella's first haircut went spectacularly well, much to my complete surprise. For a little girl who vehemently resists any modification to her routine and the status quo (much like her father), Isabella exceeded all my expectations. And thank God, because mama would not have had the patience to deal with her if she hadn't.
But the binky-weaning ran a close second to my fears about potty-training. Even though Isabella only used it for naps and bedtime since she was about four months old, she was really attached to it. It was part of her bedtime ritual. We would brush her teeth, dress her in her pajamas, and then head to the bathroom to run her binky under the faucet. She preferred a "wet binky." Then, we headed back to her bedroom, read stories, she'd pop in her binky and go to sleep.
However, she's headed to the dentist soon for her first cleaning, I wanted to wean her off it sooner rather than later, since several of my friends received light scoldings from their kids' pediatric dentists once they confessed that their toddlers or preschoolers were still using them. I don't want to screw up her teeth, even if they aren't the permanent ones.
And then there was the condition of her binky. Some kids have binkies. Isabella had one much-loved binkie since about the age of seven months. It was a stage one binkie, the smallest size, meant for infants. We tried to replace her binkie several times once we noticed how disgusting her favorite one was getting with no luck. She knew the difference, even if the replacement was the exact same size and color. Her binkie was well-worn, discolored, and probably had at least 15 separate strains of bacteria growing on it. The thing was nasty.
So, for about a week ahead of the big day, we talked about the Binkie Fairy and how Isabella needed to place her binky in a jar for the binky fairy to take away and replace with a present for her since she was a big girl now. On the day of de-binking, right after her nap, we had Isabella drop her binky into a jar and set it on the table in the hallway, just outside her bedroom door. She did this without a problem, and was excited about the present she'd find the next morning.
But at bedtime, there were tears. Lots and lots of tears for the binky sitting in the hallway. She kept saying, "My mouth feels kinda funky! I want something in my mouth." I comforted her, tried to get her enthused about the present she'd find the next morning, and then finally asked her if she wanted to take something else to bed instead. She requested...a Kleenex. So I gave her one, and after a few more tears, she settled down and went to sleep.
In the morning, Isabella found a Dora bubble kit and a Dora cup, plate, and bowl set waiting for her from the binky fairy. Luckily, she loved them. For that day's nap, she told me she was sad because her binky was gone, and then she requested two more stuffed animal friends to sleep with. At bedtime the next night, there wasn't a mention of the binky, although she was a bit more clingy than she normally is.
As for the beat-up binky, I tucked it in my recipe box in the kitchen. Disgusting though it is, I cannot let myself toss it just yet. Making the decision to take away the binky wasn't an easy one. There are new signs every day that Isabella is growing up and becoming more independent. She's using the potty. She helps with chores. She is advocating to do everything herself. She's more articulate and verbal than some kids twice her age. She's sprouting like a weed. And I couldn't be more thrilled about how grown-up she is now.
But she was never more my baby still than just before bed, dressed in her footie pajamas, curled up under her covers with her binkie in her mouth, ready for bed.
Her binky is a tiny little piece of her babyhood that I'm just not ready to give up yet.