|Written by Jeanne Martin|
Q: My 2-yr-old is addicted to her pacifier. Any tips on how to wean her of it without causing too much emotional trauma?
A: Oh, that brings back precious memories of when my little girl, too, had a love-affair with her noonie. I remember how at first, it was just adorable to watch her with her noonie. Then, it was a great help when I couldn’t nurse or she was in the car seat and needed comforting. As a toddler, they were like her best friends. I would fan them out around her body in her crib so that when she woke up at night ANYWHERE she reached was a glorious, sparkling noonie.
But we began to realize that there was a dark side to this whole noonie thing. She needed it more and more and before long she was all cracked-out on it and couldn’t go five minutes without the thing. So at age two, under mounds of pressure from the ladies at the day care, my dentist and the blue-hairs in the supermarket, we decided to get rid of the noonie. There was a ceremony, and we tearfully sent them off to the noonie-fairy who delivers them to all of the little boys and girls who can’t afford noonies. (I know, it makes me want to throw-up now when I say it out loud.)
We all felt so good about this big-girl decision… until bedtime. Then she realized that she could no longer have one and we realized that we would have given her any vice if it would have shut her up and let us get some sleep. Okay, so maybe we shouldn’t have gone cold-turkey, but she was our first, and I had given up chocolate for Lent plenty of times, so I knew what I was doing. Finally, she cried herself to sleep, but we were comforted by the fact that she would learn to be less dependant on things and that her orthadonture was safe from the evils of the noonie.
In the morning, when I went to look-in on my newfound big girl, I realized why she hadn’t cried out or come to get in our bed anymore that night; she had started to suck her thumb. Here’s a little tip: you cannot take away their thumb. There is no thumb fairy, their thumbs go with them EVERYWHERE and they cannot be sterilized in the dishwasher. My precious angel sucked her thumb, I kid you not, for SIX more years. It took two plastic thumb guards ordered off of the internet, nasty-tasting nail polish, multiple tied-on gloves and finally an orthodontic device implanted in the roof of her mouth to get her to stop sucking her thumb.
My advice to you is this: do not take away her pacifier. Let her HAVE it as long as she likes. Maybe wait until she is in high school and her friends tell her to toss it, and then, maybe, she’ll get rid of it. Maybe.
Q: My best friend’s son is in the gifted and talented program, and she constantly brags about his brilliance. Any tips for me to get her to tone it down?
A: This is probably just the beginning of what your best friend is going to do to annoy the cuss out of you. But I do agree, the whole “gifted” thing is obnoxious. The name alone is ridiculous. It’s like having a special class just for the “beautiful” or the “clever” children.
Having one child in the gifted program and one in the “general population” myself, I’ve come to learn that the kids are pretty much the same across the board; the stark difference here is the parents of these “gifted” kids. Some are, quite simply, frightening. This is the most intense, uptight and rigid group of people I have ever had to endure an Open House with. Usually it’s just me and a few other slacker-moms sitting in the back row ridiculing the PTA Nazi for her over-articulated welcoming speech and sad addiction to the power-point clicker. But when my son was moved into gifted, I went down a very solemn road at every parental meeting, with no one to make eye-contact with when an eye-roll was clearly called for. And how could they make eye contact with anyone? They were all so diligently taking notes and jotting down memos about the various questions they were going to ask at the end of the assemblage. Questions! I had had a martini with my friend Monique before arriving 20 minutes late so as to bypass the principle’s “We’re All So Glad You’re Here” speech and was totally engrossed in trying not to resemble a Manda sausage while I stuffed my not-a-size-four backside into my second-grader’s gnome-sized chair. So the only thing I got from that meeting was never wear a pencil skirt with Spanks to Open House. But I digress …
The problem here is not really with the oddities within the school system. The problem here is with this friend of yours and how you can knock her down a peg or two when she gets all biblical about her offspring’s mental dexterity. Evidently, she feels inferior to you and your (obviously superior) intellect, and as such feels the need to live through her child and his intelliectual promise. Now I can tell you how I would handle this, but it might not be your cup of tea. I would simply mock. Tease, taunt and insult your way to an open dialogue about how she’s secretly jealous that you won’t be spending your Mardi Gras holiday producing a Science Fair project on the electromagnetic spectrum. Laughter my friend, it’s what keeps us together.