There is a turf war going on in my house. Like most turf wars, it gets violent and aggressive, and is perpetrated by addicts. I am caught in the middle of a dummy turf war, headed by my tiny humans, who would also rather die than remove the plastic, quiet inducing, sometime lifesavers, from their mouths. You see, Deep thinker is firmly in the Avent gang. He prefers his stash to be of the colourless, see through variety, with an annoying handle flapping with excessive movement. Mini Assassin is firmly affiliated with gang MAM, thus preferring a vice consisting of the larger, boldly coloured, face obscuring variety. Each are fearlessly protective of their own haul, and there is severe punishment for any dummy found crossing into the wrong territory. Avent territory includes Deep Thinkers bedroom, our bedroom, and the lounge. MAM territory consists of everywhere else. Punishment for a dummy found to be stepping on the others turf, currently include a screaming fit, before it being placed firmly in the bin, a screaming fit, followed by it being stamped on, and a screaming fit, followed by torture of the offending dummy owner (kicking, biting, scratching,) followed by an attempt to permanently disfigure the dummy by any means possible. I fear that one day soon, there will be a gangland execution for any dummy and its owner, found to be in someone else’s stomping ground.
I have always been a ‘never say never’ person. I felt the same about how I was going to bring my children up, I read a lot about the do’s and don’ts of feeding, what they should wear to sleep in, exactly what their poo should look and smell like before you start freaking out and making panicked phonecalls, etc, but ultimately thought that I’d do what came naturally. But for some reason, I really, REALLY didn’t want my children to have dummies. I was one of those clueless knobheads who thought that dummies were for lazy parents who couldn’t be bothered to comfort their child if it cried, and shoved a dummy their way as a quick fix. Yes, one of those naïve, childless people who need a slap, because they actually have no idea what dummies are really for. I didn’t realise they are excellent for colicky babies. I didn’t realise that some babies had such a strong, relentless urge to suck, that the whole time they weren’t sucking, they’d be screaming. I didn’t realise it would take me all of 24 hours before the following conversation would take place in my house:
Me: Get to the shop, and get the fucking dummies.
Husband: Errrrr, it’s 3am.
Me: Right, ok, I thought it was later than that. Go.
Husband: But it’s 3am, where will I get them? And I thought you didn’t like the look of them.
Me: Get on google, find a 24 hour shop, and GO. And do you really think baby aesthetics is top of my list of priorities right now? Do you? Do you hate me and want me to suffer any more of this? Have my nipples disintegrated like lollipops yet from the relentless fucking sucking?? Have they?? HAVE THEY??????????? GOOOOOOOOOO.
Husband: (With the terrified look of both a new Father and someone with a hormone ravaged, exhausted wife) Right you are, see you in a bit…
And thus, our first dummy addict was born. With the introduction of that little bit of plastic, which at that point held more value to me than anything I owned, peace ensued, and my nipples were stripped of their role as human pacifier. Dummies were initially limited to night time only. Then night time plus daytime naps. But with every addiction, the more you have it, the more you want it, and the eldest got to the point that he would do anything to have his dummy in constantly. And like every conversation that happens in our house regarding what we are going to do with the children, all the things we tell ourselves we are going to do, never happen. We said we would take it away on his first birthday. Then his second, then his third… Now it looks like we’ll be packing him off to university with a dummy firmly attached to his mouth.
The second baby didn’t need a dummy at first, he was a much more settled baby. But once when he was crawling, he found a discarded dummy on the floor, and one hit was all it took… For us to now have 2 addicts on our hands. We are currently in the middle of cold turkey daytime dummy withdrawal. It’s not going well. During our first outing with two cold turkey toddlers, to playgroup, there was a code red emergency where a baby in the fenced off baby area dropped its dummy on the floor. Both my addicts immediately made a move, desperately trying to scale the fence, snarling and salivating at the prospect of reaching that dummy, that precious prize, the hit they were being denied. It was like a scene from The Walking Dead.
I am trying to keep the children away from places where I know there will be dummies. Chemists trips are a no go at the moment. You will find me weaving stealthily around the pregnancy tests (hopefully they will never be needed again) past the Tena Lady (should really get some of those) like the ninja that I am, to avoid The Dummy Section. There has to be constant vigilance, as soon as they see the shelves lined with brand spanking new, shiny dummies, there is pleading, bargaining, then eventually a huge tantrum when they realise what they see can’t be theirs. Like sniffer dogs, they are capable of sniffing out a dummy from at least a mile away. I have to check coat pockets, under beds, and any dark corner where dummies I missed may have been squirreled away, ready for a sucking hit when my back is turned. I have to ask friends to put any dummies of their own away when we are visiting. I can’t let the children be surrounded by other dummy users. If I put one dummy in a room, with both of them, I’ve no doubt they would fight to the death over it. The dummy battle is a constant one.
The cold turkey daytime strategy is still very hit and miss. Sometimes I curse myself for not being stronger, and just rounding up all the dummies and chucking them out, not even allowing them for night time. But I’m too weak for that at the moment. My husband attempted this, just last week. He suddenly announced ‘right, that’s it. They’ve got to go,’ and chucked them all. Not even a visit from the dummy fairy (which is something else we have debated trying.) After he did this, he promptly buggered off out the door to work, leaving me to deal with the consequences. Needless to say, within less than 2 hours, I was at the shop making a panic purchase. And by the law of sod, all they had was flipping pink, lurid ones… Not even the thought of gender neutrality could make them look any better on my two, very much boyish boys…
So, that is where we are at. The turf war continues, and addiction presides. Any useful tips regarding weaning from dummies will be gratefully received! (I’m not really expecting any practical advice, don’t worry! Just raise a glass to me and have a glass of Sauvignon on my behalf will be fine!) I will be reaching for the wine/vodka until this is over and I can restrategise!!
Thanks for reading!
UPDATE: Three months after the publication of this post, the eldest entered dummy rehab, and has been successfully dummy free since. The second baby still has a crack style addiction to his-we are working on it…!