The saga of the pacifier continues.
Last Saturday I came home quite late. The professor was half asleep on the couch. ‘Your son just fell asleep, about fifteen minutes ago,’ he muttered. The Hen? Of course, the Hen. ‘He lost his da and has screamed for hours.’
The twinge of guilt I felt over the professor’s plight was minute in comparison to the relief I felt at having avoided another ‘da’-less night.
I walked upstairs to check on my spawn, who were all sleeping and adorable-looking. As I walked back into our bedroom, I noticed a pacifier lying on the dresser. Covered with blue sharpie scribbles. Suspecting child vandalism, I casually asked: ‘what happened here’ pointing to the pacifier.
‘I thought maybe if I colored it blue, he would think it was his da,’ the professor confessed. Not a child having a heyday with a very permanent marker, but a desperate man trying to get a very unhappy child to go to sleep.
‘How’d that work out for ya,’ I asked rhetorically. There was no need for a response.
The tiny bit of guilt I felt about the professor’s traumatic Saturday night faded instantly when I found the ‘da’ downstairs in the basement after roughly 5.2 minutes of careful searchng. Yes, it was in a very strange place – the bottom of a laundry basket – but still. I think I’d look just about anywhere to avoid having to listen to hours of wailing.
Since the Hen had (eventually) managed to fall asleep without one of his comforts, I suggested we try to keep it away from him. To see if we could wean him of his silicone addiction. Naptime was a success, even if the nap itself was rather short.
But by evening he’d grown weary of our games. It was shortly past eight, he’d been yelling for his ‘da’ for a good thirty minutes, and the professor caved. He walked upstairs, handed the da to its rightful owner, who received it with profound gratitude. Shoved it in his mouth. And plopped down in his crib. Asleep within seconds.
There’s a reason we’ve a love-hate relationship with this piece of plastic. We love the ‘da’ for its soporific powers and its ability to soothe. Instantly. And we hate the ‘da’ for its tendency to get misplaced; for forcing us to spend hours looking for it.
And so we continued, one semi-happy pacified family. Until Thursday night. We’d celebrated Thanksgiving at a friend’s house and when we finally left, we had a ‘ba’ (greyish-white pillowcase that no amount of bleach can restore) but no ‘da’.
It was like a ‘have you seen this child’ situation, as we desperately tried to remember if he’d had the ‘da’ when we entered the house. Forget what he was wearing, or his height, weight and eye color – was he carrying a pacifier? We couldn’t remember. We could only assume he did, after all he never travels with a ‘ba’ but not a ‘da’.
We went home fearing another sleepless night. Luckily he was worn out from dinner and playing with other kids and fell asleep without much of a fuss. The next day I cleaned up the trash pile that was our basement play room. At the end of nearly thirty minutes of work, when I was putting away the stack of books that had been removed from the bookshelf and thrown on the floor, I found the pacifier. Buried in a book.
Such a scholar, that Hen.
I buried it in the back of a drawer in the kitchen, with the hope that I’d never have to reach for it again. Evening came and operation ‘no-da’ was in full effect. I tried everything. His favorite enormous book on monster trucks? It kept him busy for a few minutes before he’d stand up and yell for his da. Perhaps some snacks? I gave him an apple and a cup of water. Aside from the pieces of peel he spat onto the floor, it seemed to work. Except, like a nicotine addict: he kept wanting more apples. And more apples. I feared I’d end up with a child who’d have to eat three apples every night just to fall asleep.
Eventually it was 10.30pm. And I brought him into our bed to read Dr. Seuss. I figured ‘Mulberry Street’ might tire him out. But it didn’t. And finally, at 10.45pm when he had the nerve to demand another story, I caved.
I went downstairs. Retrieved the ‘da’ from the recesses of the kitchen drawer. Walked back upstairs. Handed it to him. And we all fell asleep promptly.