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.