Sunday, March 21, 2010

Everyday Magic

The Binky Fairy is going to visit our house tonight.

When Pumpkin finished reading stories with Daddy, she and I gathered up her binkies (she had four) and put them on the table, at the spot where she usually sits. Then, while she sleeps, the Binky Fairy will come and take the binkies to little babies who need them, and leave a surprise for Pumpkin (a giant Dora coloring book- what can I say? This plan was hatched late in the day, and I only had the energy to drive to the nearby drug store for the surprise).

This is absolutely not the time I would have chosen to take Pumpkin's binkies away. She was down to using them only at night, and occasionally when she got really upset during the day. I bought the book Pacifiers Are Not Forever, and started reading it to her. I was planning to gradually get Pumpkin used to the idea that her binkies were going to go away, and to wait until after her third birthday to actually take them away (the timing plan was based on the information/advice in Isabel's Bedtiming book). I certainly wasn't going to mess with anything else while we were in the middle of the potty training regression (which, it turns out, is not due to a UTI. It has improved somewhat but not completely resolved).

But Pumpkin has a rash on her upper lip. She's had it for months. Hubby took her to the doctor, who found a yeast overgrowth. We've been treating that, and frankly, her lip looks even worse. It is peeling, and red, and just looks painful. After months of being nonchalant about it, Pumpkin is now bothered by it. She doesn't want us to wipe her mouth after she eats. I can only imagine how much it must hurt if she eats or drinks something acidic. It has become increasingly apparent that the binkies are at least part of the problem. Last night, I looked at the rash and saw the perfect outline of her binky.

So this afternoon, I told Pumpkin about the Binky Fairy. She cried a bit, and said that she didn't want the Binky Fairy to come. I was planning to wait until next weekend to have the Binky Fairy actually come- Pumpkin seems to do better if she has time to get used to new ideas. But then, at dinner, Pumpkin announced that the Binky Fairy was going to come tonight and take her binkies away and give them to babies who still need them. And so the plan was moved to tonight.

She fell asleep easily without her binky tonight (muttering under her breath about how the Binky Fairy was going to come take her binkies and give them to babies), but the real test will be tomorrow. She no longer naps on weekends, and is so tired by the end of the day that she falls asleep in 10 minutes or less. During the week, she naps at day care, and it takes 30-45 minutes to get her to sleep. (Someday, I'll figure out what to do about that... but that is DEFINITELY waiting until after she is three.)

I hope she likes her new giant Dora coloring book when she sees it tomorrow morning. I suspect that disappointment with the Binky Fairy's surprise will not help things go smoothly.


I understand fairy tales far better now that I am a parent. I am finding a lot of "magic" slipping into out parenting. I dished out the Binky Fairy story without a second thought. We also have a Birdie, who brings a little treat (these days, a gummy worm) during naptime (these days, during the "quiet time" that we're trying to get to replace naptime).

The Birdie is actually a bit of a family tradition. My mom used it with me and my sister, and her mom used it with her and her six (yes, six) brothers. I don't remember when I figured out that the Birdie was really my mom, but I do know that my sister and I pretended we still believed for a longer than we really did, because we liked the treats. And I certainly don't remember being upset by the fiction when I figured it out.

I think the Binky Fairy and the Birdie, like fairy tales, are useful because they help us teach our children the "rules" of life long before they are actually able to understand them. Pumpkin needs some quiet time in the early afternoon, or her evening is a disaster. She needs to stop using her binkies so that her lip can get better. I can try to explain these things to her, but I don't think her brain development has progressed to the point where there is any hope of that actually producing the desired behavior. The Binky Fairy and the Birdie, though, work great. I'd read about this explanation for fairy tales, but I don't think I truly understood it until I had kids. If you really need your kid not to wander off into the woods alone, just explaining the risks isn't going to do the trick. But the Little Red Riding Hood story might.

Maybe I should start working now on the story I'll tell Petunia to get her to stop sucking her thumb.


  1. paola4:45 AM

    Good luck. We have hit rock bottom with trying to get our 5 year old to stop sucking his arm. We have tried everything but the bottom line is that you can't take his arm away, which would be the only thing that would actually work. Isabela at Child of Mind said that around 6-7 kids feel more peer group pressure so am hoping that in a year or so we might have better luck, but in the mean time, he has two pretty nasty looking welts on his arm that have always drawn unwanted attention. Fortunately you only need to watch Noah for a minute or two to see that the are self-inflicted because that's all there is between one suck and another.

    Re the falling asleep at night, I have mentioned ad nauseum that my daughter's sleep improved out of sight just before her third birthday (like 3 weeks before or so). She would drive me batty with her million and one ways of stalling, but then there was the '3 year old shift' and now it takes 5 minute or so for her to relax and fall asleep. She still has a few wierd requests, but we are aware of them so prempt everything. I rearely have to go bck in becasue she wants one last sip of water or an extra kiss.

    I'm sure things will totally improve for you guys in a few weeks or so.

  2. @paola- I sucked my thumb until I was in first or second grade grade. Peer pressure helped, but what finally made me stop was getting some orthodontia- not braces, but a wire contraption which made it not "feel right" when I sucked my thumb (and corrected my overbite).

  3. Penny just asked me if there was a Chew-toy Fairy? Great... see what you started....

    Good luck!

  4. Good luck with the binky. Keep us updated on how it goes. I am dreading the day that I have to take away my daughter's pacifier (she's 18 mos and loves her pacifier). If the binky-fairy works, I'll have to give it a try.

  5. mary d8:23 AM

    If you figure out what works about the no-nap on weekend thing, I would love to hear it. My 3 1/2 year old started that maybe 4 months ago and hasn't looked back. Ugh. He does nap at school during the week but we see the same thing you do -- zonked (early!) on the weekend, but 30-40 minutes of singing, popping out of bed, reading, etc before he finally conks out during the week.

    And Paola -- I had the same experience as Cloud. Didn't stop with the thumb-sucking until I got saddled with the orthodontia to correct the overbite. That was in 5th grade, I think?

  6. paola9:50 AM

    Aaargh! I really hope Noah stops looooong before he has get braces. I'm hoping having to explain over and over again where those welts and bruises come from will be enough to force him to take action a lot earlier.

  7. I love the Birdie idea! I might end up using that down the road when the Weekend Nap Revolt begins again, as I know it will.

  8. @paola- check out the NY Times Motherlode blog today:

    I think my Mom had a kid who sucked her arm like Noah does in her class one year.

    I got the "W wire" when I was in second grade (so 6 or 7), and my Mom remembers that as the thing that finally stopped me. I remember being embarrassed about it in first grade, though. Maybe I only did it at home starting in first grade? I don't remember.

  9. We do the "quiet time" in the afternoon on weekends - sometimes she sleeps, but mostly she doesn't. I tell her that I also need quiet time in my room (because I really do!) and she seems to get it.

    I love the binky-fairy. I'm going to remember that when the time comes. She doesn't actually sleep with it in her mouth though, just uses it for getting to sleep then lets it fall out, so we haven't had too much trouble with rash (although there definitely has been a bit).

  10. The Binky Fairy and Birdie are adorable. Hope it works out!

    My youngest sucks her hand, not a binky. We can't figure out how to take her hand away...

  11. I have been sworn to secrecy. I must NOT tell 'da-da' that she has known (since she was 4) that he is both Santa Claus and the tooth fairy.

    If he knew that she knew, the presents would stop. ;-)

  12. You are so right about fairy tales! They made sense in theory before, but now I totally get it.

    I hope the Binky Fairy did the trick!

    As for the not napping on the weekends (or for us, not napping any day), what worked for us was moving up her bedtime. She falls asleep quickly, even with a much earlier bedtime than usual.


Sorry for the CAPTCHA, folks. The spammers were stealing too much of my time.