Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Binky-Fairy

This post was originally written in December 2011 when the binky-fairy made her initial 'visit' to our house. It has been adapted for the January edition of the Blogging Carnival on Bilingualism, a blogging community of bilingual parents and families wanting to promote a larger discussion on bilingualism and create a wider community of bilingual parents. For more up-to-date posts regarding post-binky bedtime progress, see The Quotable Kaya.

Sometimes, it seems like starting a blog post is like eating another cookie: SO tempting, yet so full of consequences that don't exactly leave you feeling so satisfied. Sleep is overrated, right?

Last night, I got maybe 45 minutes. Maybe. As soon as I finished my big Christmas project at midnight, I headed to bed, eager to finally be prone. As I attempted to relax and calm my thoughts from the day, my mind started spinning with concerns about my missing purse. My checkbook, 5 client checks, my ID, credit and debit card, ski passes, book of stamps...all vanished into who knows where on Saturday night and I had yet to truly process all that was really missing. Not to mention all that could be happening out there with whomever may have my stuff.

I popped out of bed, wrote the necessary emails to the necessary people, and finally headed back to bed at about 1am. And then I heard her whimper.

We'd mentioned the coming of the Schnulli-fairy at least a few weeks ago. She knew the day would come. But it was really the visit to the dentist last week that had me finally settle on last night: "'s time for the pacifiers to go. Her lower jaw needs every possible opportunity to catch up to the upper one," Dr. Chavez told me. I knew the day would come, too...but I was 'giving myself' until age 3.

Her whimpers turned to soft cries, and I could no longer stay away. I thought I knew what I might be walking into. I really had no idea, however...

When I approached her bed, her blankets were disheveled, covering her only in part. Her sleeper was unzipped, completely, and her legs were bare. "Musst du pullern?" I asked her softly, thinking that she must have to pee. No answer. Just blank stares, through tears. "Musst du A-a machen?" I asked again, thinking that, perhaps, she had to poop. Again, she said nothing.  Shortly thereafter, however, she began to cry, grabbing her Schnulli [binky] which now had a hole where the nipple once was. "Ich hab' keinen Schnuwii," [I don't have a binky] she said, slowly and sadly, as her cries turned from whimpers to sobs. I quickly jumped in bed behind her, snuggling her with my heart as it slowly melted with her pain. Nearly three years of falling asleep with the comfort of a suckable piece of plastic, and now, no solace in the silicone. As I snuggled in behind her, and held her close, she slowly fondled the Schnulli in front of her, the green one that was always her favorite. I knew that she knew. She knew it was time, and that the Schnulli fairy had come, and that there was simply no turning back. She wasn't angry. She wasn't scared. She was simply sad, and there was no way around it. I held her tighter and stroked her head. "Aber hat dir die Schnulli-fee etwas gebracht?" [But did the binky fairy bring you anything?] I asked her, pointing slowly to the bear on her pillow. She slowly looked up, and noticed the bear. All of a sudden, there was a shift. She grabbed the bear, and brought it to her, dangling it by its hoop. She turned to me, grinning huge, and referenced the book we'd just read last night,"Ich bin jetzt wie Cawa." [I'm like Clara now.] "Ja, das stimmt," [Yes, you are.] I told her. "Du brauchst keinen Schnuller mehr, genau wie Clara!" [You don't need a pacifier anymore, just like Clara.]

While we were in Germany, I excitedly bumped into this book called, "Ein Baer von der Schnullerfee" [A Bear from the Binky Fairy] in which little Clara is visited by the binky fairy and told that she'll receive a gift when she's ready to add her binkies to the collection on the fairy's necklace. A few days later, after Clara is ready, the fairy returns, and brings her a bear in exchange for her binkies. Kaya was very excited about the bear idea, and had been for weeks. She clearly couldn't conceptualize how schnulli-less bedtimes would feel. After reading the book for the first time on Sunday night, I told Kaya that sometimes, the Schnulli fairy will leave the Schnulli, but will simply take the 'nose' of the Schnulli to add to her necklace. In that way, there's not a complete 'lack' of Schnulli, just a missing ability to suck. Geoff and I liked this concept, and thus attempted to prepare her for how some fairies operate.

So, there we were, on her bed, lying in the dim glow of her Santa Claus light. As she dangled the bear back and forth near our heads, she shared with me something that I never saw coming. "Mama, ich wiw awe meine Schnuwi der Schnuwifee geben," [I want to give all of my binkies to the binky fairy.] she told me, as I swallowed my surprise. "Ich wiw, dass du sie ihr gibst." [I want you to give them to her.] "OK," I told her. "Das kann ich machen." [I can do that.] Apparently, she likes the binky-fairy who takes the binkies, not the ones who cut holes in them. She'd just much rather have them gone. She then handed me all three pacifiers and told me, "Ich wiw, dass du wieder kommst, nachdem du sie ihr gibst." [I want you to come back after you give them to her.] Of course I conceded, and proceeded out the door, binkies in hand. When I returned, Schnulli free, Kaya's spirits stayed high, and we laid there a big longer. I was growing a bit excited at the idea of going to sleep soon, and thought we might be close. And then my hopes were crushed. "Ich bin nich muede" [I'm not tired] she declared, gently. "Ich wiw nicht schafen. Ich wiw nur scheeelen (ich will nicht schlafen, ich will nur spielen)." [I don't want to sleep. I only want to plaaayyyy.] Having learned the hard way, I knew there was no fighting it. Trying to force a 2 year old to sleep when they only want to play is like trying to fit your elbow into your mouth. It just doesn't work. So, I set her up with some light and some books, and told her she could read until she grew tired. I hesitated to leave her alone, concerned about her being warm enough if she fell asleep without a blanket. After talking her into wearing a sweater, and knowing that she'd call me if she needed me, I sauntered off to bed in hopes of some sleep.

A bit later, no more than an hour, I awoke to Kaya's voice. "Ich bin Hunnnger," [I am hunnnger] she told me, as I went into her room. "Ich wiw essen." [I wanna eat.] After having this incredibly helpful conversation that afternoon with a friend about the importance of validating children (and adults, too!), I knew, once again, that there was no fighting this one either. Granted, I tried for a few minutes, attempting to tell her that I knew how hungry she was, and that she could eat as soon as we got up in the morning. Not wanting Geoff to lose any sleep (as the full-time worker of the two of us), however, I chose the quiet route over the loud one.

Thus, at 3 am, I found myself cutting apples and serving miso soup to a very cheerful little girl who had no intention of falling asleep schnulli-less. At this point, after having tasted sleep, I was beginning to lose some patience and compassion, and had to keep my mind from wandering to how things would be the next day. I had a tutoring gig at 9:30am that I wondered if I'd be able to keep. 4am came and went, and with some tears and sadness, so did 5. Song after song, lullaby after lullaby, we rocked in the rocker and sang in her bed, while she cried at the challenge of the eve. "Ich kannnn nicht ohne Schnuwi schaafen," [I can't sleep without a binky] she cried, overwhelmed at the thought of going it solo. "Ich weiss," [I know] I told her, reflecting on Laura's advice. "Es ist schwer ohne Schnulli einzuschlafen. Ich wuenschte mir, du haettest tausende von Schullis, in dem du schwimmen koenntest, und womit du spielen koenntest. Das waere so schoen!" [It is hard to fall asleep without a binky. I wish you had a thousand binkies that you could swim in and play with.] It felt strange to be responding like this, I told her earlier on the phone. It's like I'm being so condescending, indulging the fact that she doesn't have what she wants, and that I'm not going to give it to her. "You're not two," she reminded me. "If your husband came home and told you that he wished you had all the millions in the world to swim in and run through and cover your house with, after you share with him your concern about your finances, you'd want to hit him!" True. That.

Her advice was a godsend, and at 6:30am, after a multitude of lullabies and more compassion and validation that I've demonstrated in ages, she finally fell asleep in my lap, being rocked in the rocker. When she awoke when I moved her, I feared a replay. But after walking out slowly, taking nary a breath, she did it by herself and fell asleep without Schnulli.

Mission accomplished.!
Only 5 hours later.

This afternoon, as Geoff walked through the door, Kaya went running to him, bringing with her the Schnulli-bear. "Look what I got," she told him, proudly, snuggling into his arms. "Wow!" he responded. "Where'd you get that?" "The Schnulli-fee brought it to me," she replied, looking at me, afterwards. I asked her then if she had to give the fairy anything in exchange for the bear. She looked at Geoff, knowing that my question in German was intended to be answered in English to him. "Mama gave my Schnullis...her." I smiled as she told him this, not only because she was clearly so at peace with the whole thing, but because of the sweetness of the structure of her English sentence. In German, there's no need to use the preposition 'to' before 'her' since the grammar makes it clear which case is intended.

Here it is, 12:30am, and I feel like a ticking time bomb. A kind of dumb one, putting writing before sleeping. I have no idea why I'm not tired, and am avoiding the fear of when it will catch up to me. I partly think I'm riding on this new wave of validation that's working wonders...and simultaneously excited at this new phase in our lives.

Kaya just woke up, crying, and as I approached the door, I feared a repeat of last night. Forward motion is happening, however. She not only fell back to sleep quickly, with just a blanket and some gentle rocking on her bed, but tonight, as Geoff was putting her to bed, he told her that she can fall asleep with her snuggle monkey and her dog, avoiding the whole binky conversation. In contrast to the "I can't" concern she voiced with me last night, tonight she simply told Geoff that "it's hard to sleep without a Schnulli, Daddy."

It sure is, Kaya. That I know.
Mama sucked her thumb until she was twelve...


  1. Oh wow. I'm tired just reading your post! Those all-nighters can really catch up to you. I hope you rebounded well in time for Christmas! You're making me very glad, too, that Aleksander never got attached to his pacifier. He used one as an infant but lost interest after just a few months. That book you got in Germany looks wonderful, though! What a find!!

  2. Thanks, Kate...this is the one piece of advice I intend to share with my new-mom friends: GET RID OF THE PACIFIER EARLY!! =)

    I did rebound for Christmas, but it's been a long week of NO NAPS (ARGH!!), too little sleep for both of us, and loud bedtimes. This too shall pass, right?!

    Yeah, I definitely scored on that book...was certainly worth the late night trip, and the full price I paid, at Hugendubel!

    Thanks, as always, for stopping by...look forward to trompin in your territory soon!


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