Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The one where I traumatize my kid

My son has a blankie. Seven of them, actually. Seven soggy, satin edged lovies that he can not, will not, live without. Overtired from a long day at preschool? Blankie in the mouth. Sad because you got a time out for hitting your mama? Blankie in the mouth. It's not that I mind. Being 3 is stressful! You've got potty training, school, the frustration of wanting to do things that you can't! quite! do! Sure it's causing a really cute overbite, but judging by the large, non-blankie induced spaces between his teeth, there's no way this kid's gonna escape braces anyway.

So here's the question: Do I have to take it away?

My gut says that this is not a big deal. That he'll give it up when he's ready, and who am I to determine how he self-calms? But then I think, What if it were a pacifier? Would I be so easygoing if he stuck a plastic binkie in his mouth every day after school? Because that is essentially what we're talking about here. And if by letting him decide when he's ready, am I opening him up to ridicule? Let's face it, kids can be assholes. I still remember the Jack, the 2nd grader at my school who sucked his thumb. He would have been ridiculed if he hadn't been such a shit-kicker. (Of course as an adult I get all kinds of heartbroken thinking about this little kid who knew how to fight but still needed to suck his thumb.)

Can I let him love what he wants to love, or am I just infantalizing him? Is it time to call in the "pacifier fairy"? (We tried a gentle mention a few months ago. It went about as well as you'd expect.) Where do you stand, parents?


Peyton said...

Does he take to school? I would discourage him from taking it to school, but I wouldn't take it away from him otherwise; he'll grow out of it. My 28-month old son, who used to be obsessed with first arranging and them sleeping on top of 6 t-shirts with pictures of sports balls (volley/base/soccer/basket), until I got him a blanket with all those balls pictured on it, has cultivated a rotating attachment to different toys and books. Now that he is in a toddler bed (necessitated by a late night vault over the side of his crib - damn, thought I had an inch in height to go before that was a problem) and he no longer merely sleeps - now he NESTS. I go in after he is sleeping and pull out sports balls, sports ball-shaped pillows, toy cars, toy planes, books, books shaped like cars with working wheels, stuffed animals, extra blankets and squeezy bath toys shaped like Cars characters.

Missy said...

Since it is a blankie and not a pacifier, I say go with your instinct and let it go for now.
Both of my girls had lovies well past 3. #2 still has to have her beloved Snowbear at bedtime, and she plays with it frequently too, and she is 10.
However you may in the somewhat sort of near future start putting the kibosh on having the blankie in his mouth.
Let me share my experience with something similar...
#2 was a thumb-sucker. We never made a big deal out of it and worked on the assumption that she would give it up on her own when she was ready. We did put limits on it once preschool started and upped the limits each year of preschool so that by the time she was pre-K thumb was only allowed at home. Again we thought once the limits were in place she would let go of it soon.
Cue FIRST GRADE. She is still sucking her thumb, and does not want to go to a sleepover party because she is embarassed about it. That is when her therapist mama said, "Uh-oh, we have something that is interfering with social functioning. Time to act." So we started a reward program to help her give up the thumb. It was far easier than I thought it would be, and she gave it up quicker than we had planned through the reward system. So with a that good ol' 20-20 hindsight I realized that it wasn't that she wasn't ready, but perhaps more that she just didn't know HOW to give it up. Now of course there was sadness and fear about giving up that long term source of comfort, but it was outweighed by the pride in being thumb-sucking free.
So there is my two-cents. Let it go, but not tooooo long!

Mer said...

I like blankies and I even like pacifiers and thumbs, so I know I'm at one end of the spectrum, but I say: Don't take it away. I wouldn't let him take it to school, but that's mostly because it will get lost/germy/blahblah. But really? What's the harm? At some point he won't want it anymore; if you take it away now you're creating a battle and increasing the need/anxiety, instead of letting him stop needing it on his own. Meanwhile it helps. Three is really young, still.

About a year ago we were going away for a weekend and I asked my then 9 y.o. son whether he wanted me to pack He looked at me like, "Dude, naw." I don't think he'd be thrilled if I threw Seuss away, though, yk?