Adventures in Parenting #24: Pacifying 101

One of the bigger hot button issues in our world today is whether or not you should give your child a pacifier. This is serious stuff. It's right up there with whether or not we should get involved in Syria, the impact of universal healthcare, and just what in the world Bob Benson is up to on Mad Men. At least a half dozen times, I have heard friends say that they weren't going to let their soon-to-be-born babies become reliant on pacifiers. Once the baby comes, however, it takes, like, 27 seconds to realize the issue with this argument: pacifiers WORK. When you're hanging out in the Anti-Pacifier Camp, you're basically saying, "Oh yeah, I totally don't want my child to become dependent on a tiny piece of cheap plastic that instantly makes him fall asleep and leave me in peace for a few blessed minutes." And that's bonkers. Needless to say, we're all about the pacifier. Now, when you are a dumb new parent such as I, you might think all pacifiers are created equal. And you would be wrong. Below are three random pacifiers I found laying within 20 feet of my desk just now:

photo (2)

Notice how they all look completely different. Cooper can't seem to keep the one on the left in his mouth, really takes to the one on the right, and doesn't seem to think the one in the middle is even a pacifier. He spits it out and then just stares at it in disgust as if I tried to trick him into thinking a thumb tack was actually a pacifier. (Lucy, our beagle, shows no such distinction in her pacifier preference as she has ripped apart and/or eaten at least a dozen different pacifiers in the four months. Brand, shape, whatever, it seems to make no difference to dogs. So there's that.) Our house is now fully stocked with the kind on the right (shout out to Nuk, which is a horrible name for a company but the product is superb) and Cooper has taken to them quite well. It's not like we stick these things in his mouth 24 hours a day but when he's fussing, when he's tired, when I'm trying desperately to get him to go to sleep, I stick the pacifier in his mouth, hold it in there as if I'm trying to smother an old person in a movie, and wait for the magical powers of the pacifier to kick in.

Lately, however, we've run into a problem. Namely, Cooper has discovered what his hands are capable of doing. No longer are they simply worthless chew toys for him to slobber on, instead they can now grip, grab, and hold things. That's a cool advancement to witness as you watch it dawn on your kid what exactly these body parts can do. But it also leads to a fun little game called "Super Frustrating PacifierGammon." Or "PaciGammon" for short. I threw in the "gammon" part to make it sound more like an actual game.

It starts like this:


He's tired so I sat him down next to me and put his pacifier in his mouth. Quickly, however, Cooper realizes that if he continues to allow the pacifier to stay in his mouth, he will fall asleep. He cannot stand for this, so:


Out comes the paci. But now there's another problem: Cooper loves nothing more than putting things in his mouth and now, having forcibly removed the pacifier, there is nothing for him to gnaw on. He surveys the area and spots his prey:


That's right, the pacifier he just took out of his mouth is now sitting on his shoulder, totally not in his mouth in any way, shape, or form, and this must be rectified:


He hasn't yet gained the dexterity it takes to do significant manual labor with only one hand so this job will require both of them. This is actually my favorite part of PaciGamon because it's really funny to watch him try to work out a solution to his problem. Finally, having secured a good grip on the pacifier in both hands, he can maneuver it toward his mouth and bring an end to the madness of having nothing to gnaw on. Except that he hasn't quite mastered the art of finding the rubber part of the pacifier, resulting in this:


He was growling while I took this picture. What he lacks in execution he definitely makes up for in aggression. (Also, let me just note that this kid growls A LOT. Not grunts, not grumbles, full out growls. There's at least a 25% chance that when he gets to kindergarten, his teacher will think he was raised by wolves.) He couldn't quite figure out how to get this thing done which resulted in this:

I'm kidding, I don't have a picture of this part of PaciGammon because this is the part where my beautiful baby boy freaks out and starts crying because obviously I'm a horrible parent for not just putting the pacifier in his mouth in the first place. I've got some nerve. At this point, the rules of PaciGammon dictate that I put the pacifier in his mouth the right way, ending round one of the game and prompting the start of round two, which is exactly the same as round one except with more frustration.

This kid needs to learn some better games, Brian