“The only way to cultivate freedom is through experiencing and learning how to handle an increasing number of options.” ~ Danny Lee Silk
What my toddler taught me last night: it doesn’t always have to be a fight – it can be a choice.
William will be three on September 25. As it usually happens about this time, I have been trying to figure out how to get rid of his beloved paci, or “Ba,” as he has come to call it. He has been napping without it at school for a while, but it is permattached to his mouth at home. He actually slept his first night without it a few nights ago. We lost it and couldn’t find it. I was shocked when he actually went to bed without it. But as sure as he woke up in the morning, he commenced to freaking out about not having it. I am a sucker, and I gave it back. Yeah, I know.
Yesterday, William seemed emotionally strong enough to try again (not overly tired, whiny, crabby, etc). So I told him that he was a big boy (afterall, he had just pooped on the potty), and that he did not need his Ba to go to sleep. He was reluctant, but didn’t cry or whine like I thought he would. He went to bed with his other safeguard, his monkey blankie, and all seemed OK at first.
Several minutes later, he came out of his room and firmly told me that he needed his Ba. I replied with the same schpiel about him not using it at school, he’s a big boy, yadda, yadda yadda. He hesitated, obviously knowing that I was right about him not using it at school. But, he is a persistent little thing. He said, “But I need my Baaaaa….” This back and forth went on for a couple of minutes as he slowly creeped down the steps toward the kitchen where he knows his beloved Ba’s have been kept. I sat on the steps letting him go by me, having that internal debate with myself: “This has been such a long weekend already, do I really want to do this right now, I mean, he’s not 3 yet…”
As I’m mulling this over, William stops at the bottom of the steps and says, “I need a toy…” with a voice of hope like I will allow a toy in bed in lieu of his Ba, you know, as a compromise. Wait, a compromise? Really? I thought, why not? At least he won’t suck on a race car and ruin his teeth. So I tentatively said OK, as he walked to the toy box and pulled out not a car but a piece of one of Zachary’s Nerf guns. Hmm, I thought, I guess that would be just sufficient to ward of the boogey monster as any old rubber Ba would be.
William walked back up the stairs with the gun piece as his new armor against all things that go bump in the night. Now, since his mouth was free to talk, he chatted away after I closed the door to their bedroom, much to Zachary’s dismay, I’m sure, but at least he wasn’t talking with a blue rubber Ba hanging out of his mouth.
Now, ask me if he went to bed tonight with or without his Ba. And, I’m not going to tell you. Because a Mama has to get some rest some time. And he’s not even 3 yet. So there’s still time to make that final leap, right?! Right.