A Chicago dad tries to wean his toddler from pacifiers

This week’s blog post is by WDP co-host Matt Rocco, who lives in the Edgewater Glen neighborhood  of Chicago with Professor Foster (his “Brown Mom” wife), and their daughter Viva, who will probably take up smoking in the next 24 hours.

I am typing this in the middle of the night, bleary eyed. In the nursery, my 2-year-old daughter is re-enacting the scene from “The Man With the Golden Arm” in which Sinatra tries to go cold turkey from an addiction, and wrecks Kim Novak’s apartment in the process. (I think that makes my wife Kim Novak.) The reason for all this drama is that tonight we’ve decided Viva is giving up pacifiers for good.  Check with me tomorrow to see if we still think it’s a good idea.

Now, she’s almost 3, so we should have done this a long time ago, but we had to choose our battles, starting with helping her sleep through the night while battling reflux, which lasted for years. Then we weaned her from bottles, then potty trained her, so it’s not that we’re not working on anything, it’s just that pacifiers came last, and in the process, her need for a “Night Night” fix has gotten worse and worse, even though they are only allowed during sleep. (Note that she does try to find them wherever we hide them if she’s upset. She’ll ransack drawers, climb on furniture, once she drilled through a safe like a pint-sized Jimmy Valentine.)

There’s lots of advice for how to wean a child from pacifiers – the best of which we didn’t take, and that’s to take them away BEFORE your kid is 2. You MUST take them away before your kid is 4 or they’ll have a rounded bite like a lamprey for the rest of their life. We followed the rest of the rules, though – take them away gradually (we did that), have the child pack them up for the “binky fairy” to take to “the babies” (we did that), have a big day of celebration (we did that at the Exploratorium in Skokie.  Very fun. Then doughnuts, playing at Berger Park, Pizza from Pete’s, watching “Frozen” – seriously, it was a fun day), then the time is nigh.

But it’s the time that is night that really stinks. The time where your kid is crying and screaming and throwing dolls and your wife is heartbroken and you’re thinking maybe a lamprey-faced grade-schooler doesn’t sound so bad. Some people like to say “let them cry it out” (and isn’t it amazing how tough people can talk when it isn’t their kid), but we’ve tried “crying it out” in this house, and Viva can keep crying until the whole neighborhood is awake and DCFS is at the door with removal papers.

My fear is that, in the course of her withdrawal flailings, she’ll realize that to good lord gave her two permanent pacifiers on the sides of her hands… her thumbs. My wife was a thumb sucker and didn’t give it up until she broke her arm as a kid and couldn’t find her thumb through the cast. I don’t feel like breaking my daughter’s arm just to get her thumb away from her, and she’s just about that stubborn.

So, wish us luck tonight. If you hear screams coming from the direction of Edgewater, it’s Viva, and we’re still losing the battle.

You can CALL the White Dads now on their hotline:  (347) 766-3866. Leave a message or a question they can play on the podcast! If you enjoyed this essay, subscribe to the WDP podcast for free on iTunes!

You can listen at whitedadproblems.com. (Do note that the show has a potty mouth and is definitely for Over 17 Only.) Follow the Dads on Facebook and on Twitter: whitedadprobs.

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