Ancient History

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How we rid the world of our three-year-old’s pacifier

The dirty looks starting rolling in around age two and a half. olliespiderbear_2

Pacifiers get the side-eye, regardless. People are convinced they lead to orthodontic and speech issues, but I’m not. Out of our nine kids, only one didn’t use a pacifier. Guess which child had speech therapy? If you guessed the one who never used a pacifier, congratulations! Your Irony Meter is ticking along beautifully. Do not send it in for repairs.

Traditionally, we liked our kids to quit the coo-coo* habit around their second birthdays. Most did. Happily, some of them did it solely on their own. It was tougher with a few. With Ollie, we didn’t start pushing the issue until he neared his third birthday. As the baby of the family, he’s ridiculously spoiled. He just is. There are ten older people to do his bidding. If one won’t, someone else will.

We chose Ollie’s third birthday as the day the coo-coo would disappear. For months, we’d note that on his birthday, he wouldn’t have it any more because he would be so, so big. Too big for a baby coo-coo! He’d repeat this, usually garbled as it bounced in his mouth. We also told him he would get to go to Build-a-Bear, which is our traditional third birthday destination. He’d get to put his coo-coo inside his new stuffed pal so it would be near. He could trade one soother for another.

I was happy and anxious as the eleven of us invaded the mall near our house. We filed into Build-a-Bear and stood back as Ollie looked at the possibilities. Most of us expected he’d go for one of the My Little Pony friends, as he’s a total Brony. Surprisingly, he grabbed a Spiderman/teddy bear mashup. “Spiderbear!” he said.

The clerk began to fill Spiderbear with fluff. Ollie took a puffy red heart and stuffed it inside. Then, we told him he should put his coo-coo inside, too. He took it out of his mouth and settled it next to the heart. The clerk sewed up the back and we moved on. He went through all the motions one does at Build-a-Bear. He chose a Spiderman suit with tall red boots to dress Spiderbear, completely committing to the theme. We returned home to his My Little Pony-themed Spikey Wikey cake and a small celebration.


I was impressed and gratified by his maturity and understanding. Clearly, he was ready for his big sacrifice.

Until bedtime.

“Dada! Cut it! Cut it!”

Ollie held up Spiderbear, imploring us to crack open his fuzzy back to retrieve his coo-coo for bed. We couldn’t. We wouldn’t. Ollie was mad at Spiderbear, but eventually fell asleep. The next morning, he brought Spiderbear to me and said, “It’s bad news.”

There’s a new bad-news bear in town. I told him I was sorry. The coo-coo was done.

That was that. He hasn’t looked back since the first tricky, sad night. Admittedly, Spiderbear is ignored. In Latin, he’s known as araneae-ursidae non grata. I haven’t seen it in weeks, but that’s okay. I haven’t seen a coo-coo bobbing in my baby’s mouth, either.

Yeah. I said baby.

*coo-coo is our long-time family name for pacifier

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