Prologue: Welcome to the Mommy Masters Binky “Me-me” Diaries!
It has been a wonderful journey and I want to share my experiences with you in hopes of offering inspiration, ideas and encouragement. First I must provide you with some behind the scenes information: My son turned 3 in October and was very attached to his binky, or as he calls it, his “Me-me”. The plan was to remove it before his 3rd birthday but as the days went on, the familiar, “I’ll deal with it tomorrow” turned into “I’ll deal with it next month”. I think I was scared of the same things every mom is scared of, like my son giving up naps, him not sleeping as well, lots of tears and seeing my child unhappy and sad. I have already been through a successful binky removal with my oldest son, who is now 5, and knew that even with all the different emotions coming my way, I could get through it and would have to remain strong. Though I had yet to officially start the physical removal of the “Me-me”, there was a lot of ground work to do ahead of time. I had been discussing the idea with my son for a while so that it wouldn’t be a terrible surprise to him. I knew this time would be quite traumatic as he was about to give up one of his favorite things on earth. I would never want to cause my son sorrow or hurt, but had to make him understand I was doing the best thing for him, even know it wouldn’t seem like it now. A few months back, I implemented a nap and nighttime “Me-me” rule only, meaning that it wasn’t supposed to leave his room. There were times of course he would crawl into bed with me in the morning, “Me-me” glued to his mouth, and I was okay with that, especially at 5:45AM. As long as the “Me-me” didn’t make its way downstairs and rear its ugly head anywhere except sleepy time, I knew the task was a success. So here we go to start the adventure…no turning back now!
DAY 1: On this first official day, I decided to move forward with phase 1 of my plan, which involved planting the seed. Enter the “Me-me” Fairy! I told my son that I had seen the “Me-me” fairy in the neighborhood which must have meant she was coming to our house soon. I even involved my 5 year old who backed me up and said he had seen her flying around too. I knew my son would love this type of magical, mystical adventure, since he already believed in his magic shorts (for those who read my recent blog article on school separation http://mommymasters.blogspot.com/search?q=magical+shorts). I also explained that the “Me-me” Fairy would come visit and take the “Me-me” to another baby who needed it, and in exchange, would leave special surprises. Enter the 99 cent store. I went and bought 5 little gifts that I, a.k.a. the “Me-me” Fairy, would leave on my son’s floor every morning for 5 days after the “Me-me” was taken away. At the end of this 5 day process, I, (she), would then leave a final, larger present that was the big reward. Not only was my son excited but would often mention that he had seen the fairy fly by as we were driving in the car. I knew I was well on my way to a successful “Me-me” removal mission. In summary, day 1 was all about continuing to educate my son about what was to come and getting him excited for this event in his life. I also took some time to prepare myself mentally for this adventure, knowing that nap time may be more challenging or perhaps disappear all together. I could stall and stall but the time was now and as I said, there was no turning back. All in all, a great day of positive feedback from my son, and he and I are excited to move forward!
DAY 2: Now that I had started to plant the seed, it was time to move forward with phase 2 of my plan. I went out and bought a really cute book titled, Pacifiers are not Forever, written by Elizabeth Verdick, for extra support, and told my son we could read it as many times as he liked. He was super excited about his new book, felt very special, and was eager to read it. The book gave him a visual explanation of what he was embarking on, prodded him to ask great questions, gave me some ideas and really helped him feel like a big boy. I could not have been more thrilled that my preparation was a success so far. Today I also printed out multiple pictures of cartoon like fairies from the internet that I will tape up around the house, showing him that the “Me-me” Fairy has come to visit us. The image I found (see above picture) is colorful, inviting, and friendly, which will hopefully get him energized. Tomorrow I will tape up my fairies and start wrapping my 99 cent store presents in preparation. Another successful day!
DAY 3: My son woke up this morning to a bunch of “Me-me” Fairies all over the house. We decorated an envelope to store his fairies in and he carried it everywhere with him. He seems very focused on the fairy and the book, and hasn’t really mentioned the fact that he will be losing his “Me-me” soon. I want to have the perfect conditions for the actual “Me-me” send off and knew today wasn’t going to be the day. As with parenthood, you never know when your schedule and questionable behavior will get in the way of your plans. I was hoping my son would get in his last nap with his binky before we said goodbye, but due to my volunteering at my older son’s school, we didn’t get home in time to nap. I knew he would be extra emotional and cranky so I needed to delay phase 3 of my plan one more day. I definitely wasn’t stalling and believe me, I was just as excited about the send off as my son. BUT, both boys were so tired, their behavior was absolutely horrid, and our moods didn’t seem to fit all the fun activities I had planned to bid farewell to the “Me-me”. Being 5 ½ months pregnant and my husband being gone all week, I was exhausted, put the kids to bed at 6:30 and started digging into my ice cream! I wasn’t discouraged though because I knew tomorrow was going to be the perfect time to implement the finale. Even though things didn’t go as planned, (do they ever in motherhood?), I still continued with laying the foundation today. There’s always tomorrow and at least I will get a good night’s sleep knowing the “Me-me” is keeping my son comfortable and in dreamland for one more night.
DAY 4: Once again, my son woke up to a house sprinkled with “Me-me” Fairies. He was excited she had visited again and he told me he was ready to see “Me-me” go bye bye. Right then and there at 6:30AM, I knew today was going to be the day. This was confirmation that he knew what was going on and understood that at the end of our fun “Me-me” week, there would actually be no more “Me-me”. Luckily, my plans to head to the studio to work on my children’s music got cancelled, which allowed for a full day of preparation for what was to come later on that day. It was a very rainy morning but I was still hopeful the sun would come out so we could follow through with our plans. While I was making breakfast, I heard my older son say, “You are such a big boy Julian, right? You don’t need a “Meme” anymore, right? I know you can do it!”. To say I felt proud at that moment is an understatement. It was not only sweet but really helpful for me since my youngest adores his older brother and tries to emulate his every move. My 3 year old responded with “Right Harrison, I am such a big boy and “Me-me’s” are for babies”. I knew it was the right time to clue my kids in on what was to come later on in the day. THE PLAN: I would let my son pick out three balloons, any color of his choice, and then tie his “Me-me” to the balloon with a note for the fairy. He would then release the balloons when he was ready and watch them float up into the sky, eventually reaching another child’s house far far away that needed a “Me-me”. His reaction was perfect and he could hardly control himself. I could almost tell he was imagining the scenario in his head. As the hours passed, we continued to discuss our fun afternoon plans and luckily, naptime wasn’t an argument today. I wanted him to enjoy his beloved “Meme” just one more time, and of course I wanted to reap the benefits as well, since this may be the last nap he ever takes. To my surprise, he didn’t sleep very long, but I think the excitement was too much for him to handle. Before we headed to the store, I printed out a note for the “Me-me” Fairy with her picture on it. On the other side, my son decorated it with stickers and stamps and then I tied the binky to the note with ribbons. I came back from putting our art supplies away and there he was, sucking on his “Meme” with a note and ribbons stuck to it. It was so funny and cute but I was a little sad for him. I was going to be strong, follow through and get the job done.
After I picked up my older son from school, we headed to the store, picked out 2 green balloons (his favorite color) and 1 gold one (his brother’s favorite color), tied the package together, and headed outside. I also bought my older son a balloon to release as well, so he wouldn’t feel left out. The lady at the balloon counter kept asking if I wanted a weight so the balloons wouldn’t fly away and I said no weights today for us. Our mission is to fly!
The excitement on my son’s face was priceless!
We found an open area without any trees in our way and my son put the binky in his mouth for the last time. I almost thought he was going to float away. I told him when he was ready, he could open his mouth and the balloons would fly away and within seconds, the balloons were high up in the sky with the note and binky attached. He was waving and yelling goodbye to his “Me-me” and then told it he loved it, which melted my heart. He wasn’t sad or upset, but so excited and full of joy. My husband had just gotten home from travelling so we were able to share this moment as a family, which was very special. After snapping pictures and a video, I realized the tears were falling from my eyes, not my sons. Luckily I was able to hide my emotions behind my sunglasses. I think it hit me then that a huge part of my son’s life was now gone and he was growing up. I quickly rubbed my belly knowing I had another baby on the way and told myself it was okay to let my 3 year old baby be my big boy.
To celebrate, we took my son out for sushi (his favorite), and even got him a special dessert with a candle in it. During our bedtime reading routine, he asked me where his “Meme” was a few times and I told him it’s still flying in the sky. He turned a bit sad but I whipped out some bubbles I had stashed in his room for this very moment, and told him that since he doesn’t have a “Me-me” in his mouth, he could blow bubbles instead. He loved the idea and quickly changed his attitude. Bedtime definitely took a bit longer that night but he eventually fell asleep. He told me that his “Me-me” would find him again and fly right back home. I didn’t argue and want to start a whole discussion right as he was to go to sleep but I told him that he would be okay and how proud I was of him. Today was a really special day and it’s going to take a while for him to adjust but I know he will do just fine. I already wrapped his first “Me-me” reward gift and will place it on his floor so he can see it first thing when he wakes up instead of focusing on his absent “Me-me”. I will also place one in my oldest son’s room since he has been so helpful and deserves his own reward. My approach with him when he was 3 was a bit different but also worked, so it goes to show you that there is no one right or wrong way to carry out a “Me-me” removal mission. I am off to exhale and put my feet up as it’s been a long day. More to come tomorrow.
DAY 5: My son woke up very early at 5:45AM, which I expected, but he did not get up once in the middle of the night asking for his “Me-me”, which I was happy about. He was super excited about the gift the “Me-me” Fairy left for him and I told him again how proud I was of him. I decided not to mention the “Me-me” anymore unless he brought it up. Later on in the day, I was a bit nervous for naptime but didn’t want to focus on it too much. Even with the “Me-me”, he was starting to phase out the idea of napping so I prepared myself if it didn’t go so well. I thought the fact he had gotten up so early would help in the napping process but not so much. He tried a few times but he said he was unable to fall asleep. I didn’t argue or press too hard and nap time was over. He did ask me a few times where his “Me-me” was so I told him it was still floating in the sky and about to land soon. I quickly changed the topic to what we are cooking for dinner and he didn’t seem to notice. That night, he easily went to bed and didn’t even ask for his “Me-me, which made me so happy. Since on the weekends we don’t put him down for a nap, I still don’t know if nap will ever happen again. I will have to try during the week and see. I am just so proud of my son and am thrilled the whole mission was a success.
DAY 6: I decided this morning would be the end the “Me-me” Fairy gifts moving forward. My son has not asked for them and doesn’t seem to need it as reinforcement. I am going to save all of his leftover presents for good behavior days or for the holidays. The reason I bought the presents in the first place is because when I took the binky away from my 5 year old, he was very focused on it, and we had to carry on the binky fairy conversation for a while. With my younger son, he is more focused on playing with his older brother, so it’s not so much the topic of conversation or center of attention in his world. So… we are now “Me-me” free, and I almost can’t believe how easy it was in the end. Most of the work occurred in the preparation, which was well worth it. I’ll give you an update on naps in a few days and report back if anything out of the ordinary happens. Judging by the past 2 days though, I think he is going to be just fine.
Epilogue: So here ends the “Me-me” Diaries and my journey to seeing my son achieve a major milestone in his early life. This experience has created wonderful memories that will last a lifetime, and the knowledge that we can conquer any obstacles that come our way. I hope my experience inspires you, motivates you and gives you the courage as you embark on your own “Me-me” adventure. I am happy to report that my son has napped without his “Me-me”, and although it’s not as consistent as before, it does happen. I can’t wait to see what our next quest will be! Thanks so much for reading.
One proud little boy!