Saturday, August 3, 2013


Sometimes, you have to resort to a little BBC.

Blackmail, bribery, and corruption.

I have been initiated into the world of BBC by my husband’s family (though of course I have been practicing it for years, just without knowing it had a designated title!).  It has taken a long time for me to remember the actual words for BBC, but I’ve been quite adept at using it regardless! 

The current weaning of Munchkin from his dummy has been one occasion where I have quite blatantly utilised BBC.

But this is something I did think long and hard about.  I wonder sometimes if we sweeten up our kids a bit too much these days.  Do we perhaps worry so much about fragile egos and young minds that we dumb down the messages we are meant to be teaching around self-responsibility and community responsiveness?  I just wonder…

I’m trying to find a balance.  It’s a hard thing to find, ever elusive.  Sometimes I think I’ve got it, then I begin to wonder again.  Am I being too hard on him?  After all, he’s only three.  Are my expectations around behaviour perhaps beyond the development and capability of a three year old?  Then I wonder the opposite.  Am I being too lenient?  Should I be expecting more of him?  Am I creating a self-centred little monster (help!)?

Well, I don’t think we are.  I guess time will tell.  I do hope that we manage to come out with a kid who knows his own worth, but also the worth of others.  I do hope he is polite and considerate, but also able to stand firmly for what he believes is right.  I do hope he knows how to get on with people, but also how to be alone. I hope he knows how to clean a house, show someone he loves them, listen to advice, and make up his own mind.  Arrghhh!  SO many things.  How can we possibly be sure to teach him ALL of that…without missing any, or emphasising one at the expense of another?!

Decisions.  Every day!  There are the big ones, like how will we get him out of nappies, or when should we start giving him an allowance or let him learn to drive.  But there’s also the multitude of every day little ones.  Should I make him put his clothes in the washing basket tonight, when he is just so terribly tired?  Would it hurt for Mummy to do it for him?  Just this once?  Just once this week?  Every second night?  All the time?  I am going with, sometimes I do it because it is easier, but most of the time I am trying to get him to do it…after all, I don’t get to have a rest from doing the washing just because I am tired! 

How much attitude do I let him get away with?  Screaming in my ear is seriously not cool.  He gets told so, then hoisted off to the bathroom to cool down.  But crying when he’s been genuinely hurt, should I really be saying, “shshsh, stop” or just cuddling and letting him cry?  I mean, I want him to know that it is okay to cry.  I just don’t want him to think he’s always going to get his own way because he stands there and screams!

One of the reasons we toilet trained early was that I didn’t want to give my son bribery or rewards for something that I figure is a natural part of life.  Going to the loo is normal.  That’s just what you do.  I figured that if we got to it before two and a half, we were more likely to get it sorted okay (I’ve been told that’s about when the littlies suddenly decide that they don’t care so much what Mum or Dad thinks and everything can become NO simply for the sake of it – in personal experience, we get the NO a whole lot more now, but it was still easier younger for us).  I guess I wanted to leave the sticker charts for something else.  So we just did toileting with a cool happy song, and lots of praise.  And he got it.  Well, the something else has come (the something else I was saving the sticker charts for).

We still have a dummy lurking round our house.  You might have read about my plans a few months back.  They are still in process.  I must admit that I just put it off.  I procrastinated till the cows came home, went out to the field, and came home again.  I just didn’t want to do it.  I didn’t want to traumatise my baby.  Now I know that people would mostly say kids get over it.  But I don’t know, I just wonder sometimes.  I think that sometimes we forget that a baby or a preschooler is a small human being.  A human being who lacks adult ability to control their emotions, to express their feelings, or to manipulate their world (at least to the extent they want to!).  My son is a terrific kid.  Munchkin is a happy chappy, friendly and helpful, kind and intelligent.  So he has a dummy.  His one vise.  Surely I could allow him one small vise?  After all, I have chocolate.  He depends on it.  He’s had it since he was a week old, for crying out loud (or maybe for not crying out loud!).  I didn’t want to upset him too much.  But I was also feeling well, a bit embarrassed.  My son is three.  I don’t particularly like seeing kids wandering around with dummies.  Not that my boy generally does, he usually only got his dummy at bedtime.  But I was feeling a bit like he should just be past this now, and what kind of mother was I, that I couldn’t get him off it, that I let him keep it, ra-de-ra-de-ra-de-ra!

I was talking with my mum about the dummy recently, about how we really need to do something about it, that it’s costing us money having to replace them every two weeks (to keep the bugs at bay), and he is old enough not to have one, etc, etc, etc…but that I just want sleep and am scared it will be disrupted when I take away the dummy.  After all, my boy has only just started to sleep through the night consistently, at age three.  The thought of nights of screaming has just been too much for this sleep deprived, studied-out Mummy!  Mum commented that I’d just have to decide what I wanted most.  Hmm.  That was a hard choice.  NOT.  Sleep, people, sleep.  My instant, automatic, gut response was that I not only want sleep, I NEED IT.  So the dummy stayed a bit longer.  Because it wasn’t really doing any harm, and we all needed as much consistent, peaceful repose as possible. 

I started talking with Munchkin about how he needs to stop having a dummy soon.  In the process, I realised that expecting him to go for 3 weeks or something (the typical ‘break a habit’ length of time) without it in order to get a reward would be a bit much for a three year old.  He doesn’t really have a concept of next week.  He can, however, count.  So we amended it.  Ten sleeps, then he could get his truck.  We got out the truck.  Put it up on a high shelf where he could see it.  He saw, and immediately proclaimed that he would throw out the dummy.  He went to get it.  I stopped him!  I know my son well enough to realise that this new enthusiasm would wane considerably in the middle of the night, when the truck seems less exciting than the all-too-comforting and familiar dummy.  So our agreement was that he had to go to sleep for ten nights without his dummy.  We had a chart on the fridge.  I drew smiley faces for nights he did, and sad faces for nights he didn’t.  There’s one sad face, once he got the hang of it…and he can tell you exactly what it was for. 

The chart and empty box!

He did it!  We did it!  The first night was awful, screaming, crying, etc.  I gave in.  But next night told him I wasn’t giving in.  Crying, but not so much.  A few nights of taking FOREVER to go to sleep.  Then suddenly it clicked.  He is ready for this.  This is right, now is it.  He slept, without his dummy.  He even slept RIGHT THROUGH two nights without it!  Wahoo, amazing!  He has duly received his truck.  

Initial inspection with Daddy!

Right before getting sick, poor boy.  He spent two days just holding his truck.  It even came to bed one night (carefully removed later by Mummy so it didn’t get squashed by accident).  Even though he has been pretty sick, he’s only asked for it going to bed ONCE this week.  I am so proud of my boy! 

What to do when sick?  Watch borrowed Chuggington with the company of guinea pigs and truck of course!

Now we start phase two.  I presented Munchkin with his next reward.  A police van.  He is very taken with it.  He was determined that he would throw out his dummy.  I said we will, when he gets his police van.  But when he gets his police van he will no longer have a dummy any more.  My boy carefully took his police van, in it’s box, up to my parents to show them.  He very carefully explained that you can’t take it out of its box.  Not until he throws out his dummy.

Update:  I was all set to do another ten nights.  I had the chart on the fridge.  But then he started fussing at bedtime again…wanting the dummy, refusing to go to sleep.  I gave in.  Ugh.  Terrible.  DON’T DO IT, I said to myself.  All that work, to regress now! 

So I made the hard decision.  It is time to go cold-turkey.  I talked with Munchkin.  Told him we needed to throw out his dummy.  No more dummy.  Not ever.  But that he could then have his police truck.  Okay.  He agreed.  We went up to my parents (who graciously let us share their rubbish and recyling bins!) and Munchkin put it in the rubbish bin.  He then came home, got down his police van, requested help to open the box, and has played almost continuously with it since.  It has been carefully placed on his little table, next to his truck.  Pride of place.  All his other cars are in their container, but he’s allowed to leave those two out, provided they are on his table.  Last night was a bit of a mission.  I am VERY tired today.  My son doesn’t seem to have been so affected (how is it that they bounce back to easily, leaving their poor sleep-deprived parents feeling like they were run over by a truck??!!).  He went to sleep fine without the D.  But woke around 9:30.  Cried.  Quite a lot, but not as much as when he first had to learn to go to sleep without it.  I lay with him (and I admit it, I did dope him with our sleep remedy!).  I’d think he was almost asleep, and that I could go and get some sleep myself soon, only to have him wimper away again.  But he made it eventually.   Only to wake a couple of hours later and go through it all over again.  But less crying this time.  Then he woke again at four am and came to visit me.  No crying.  Just wide awake.  A Mummy cuddle later and he was happy enough to go back to sleep.  I don’t actually remember if he asked for his dummy or not then.  I was too tired.  Grin.  

It has opening doors, and NZ police colours (only, it is still left-hand drive, guess that part was too hard to change!).
Hoping that each night will successively get easier.  But the BBC, was it worth it?  You bet.  At least he feels like he got a good deal out of giving up his beloved dummy.  While he can’t exactly enjoy his police van during the night, he can at least have fun with it during the daytime!

Truck and police van - frequently inseparable.



MaxineD said...

Sooooo glad I never had a dummy to contend with - but thumbs - one 'self weaned', the other was another story.... but well done Munchkin and Mummy!!
Love and blessings

Elizabeth said...

Well done little man!

I think I am going to have a thumb sucker to deal with...