Friday, September 25, 2009

Killing Off Fairies Ain't As Easy As It Looks

My daughter’s love affair with the pacifier is a story much too long to be unraveled here. Plus, it will be appearing in an article in Parents soon and so I can’t give it all up for free, folks. But what I’m gonna give you is the ending that couldn’t make it into the piece because life hadn’t written it yet.

While I wrote the piece, which was part essay, part reported article, Seconda was a total paci fiend, no holds barred. But in talking to other moms about their binky battles, I began to think maybe I should take action sooner rather than later to boot binky. I mean, I’ve been Binky’s biggest fan, don’t get me wrong. Not with Primo, who never used one, since I was naïve and thought I could prevent him from developing dependencies (Ha!). But since Sec’s arrival, the paci has been a member of our family. We all brake for Paci. Literally. If we start driving somewhere and realize we don’t have a paci, we will stop the car as soon as possible to get one, quick.

By the time I finished the essay, I’d limited Seconda’s paci use to just bedtime, naptime and cartime. That’s a lot less time than you think because we hardly ever use the car and are almost exclusively stroller people. So the gradual weaning had begun.

And thanks to the any parents I spoke with for the article I had garnered a very long list of possible way to terminate paci, permanently.

50 Ways to Leave Your Paci

Cut a hole in it so it’s “broken”

Have your child toss his whole collection in the trash

Tie it to a binky tree in Holland

Send it to Mickey Mouse

Send it to the heavens on the string of a helium balloon

And the popular favorite –

Let the Paci Fairy take care of it

This was clearly the route we’d take. Our family is kind of nuts for fairies. OK, maybe it’s just me. I love fairies . . . and gnomes and elves and all manner of magical, fantastical, generally good but sometime mischievous sprites, Midsummer is my favorite Shakespearean comedy, for God’s Sake. It started as my love for fairies but it developed into our family’s reliance on fairies for our parenting.

Fairies, you see, do our dirtywork.

It all started with the Sleep Fairy, when Primo was about 20 months old and wouldn’t fall asleep even if we rocked him, gave him the bottle, lay beside him, held his hand, or bribed him with large sums of cash. I was in my second trimester with Sec and posted a desperate plea for advice on parkslopeparents and they delivered, as they usually do, with a diverse panorama of suggestions. Someone suggested inventing a Sleep Fairy who visited if the little boy went to bed without crying or calling his mommy back, etc. This fairy would leave a little treat by his door and when he woke (after 7am!!!!! Or no go) he could see what she’d brought him.

We though this was a genius idea. Better than sticker charts because he was too young to understand anything that took several days to pay off. But better, too, then just Mommy giving him a treat if he did well, because, well, you can always argue with Mommy and say, “I DIDN’T CALL YOU BACK! YOU”RE WRONG! GIMME MY TREAT!” But you can’t argue with the Sleep Fairy, now can you, because you can’t ever track her down. She is like an imaginary impartial third party, Perfect! Genius!

So I told Primo, not yet two years old, that I’d read in the newspaper that this famous Sleep Fairy, whose name no one knew, was coming back to NY soon and visiting the homes of all children who went to bed without a fuss. He went to sleep like a dream and the next morning he had a Halloween sugar cookie waiting by his door. The morning after that, it was a little spiral drinking straw. Sheet of stickers, plastic finger puppet. Basically anything that could be purchased for $.50 or less or occasionally a little tasty treat.

The method worked like magic for a few weeks. But it wasn’t as easy as it sounds. I wanted the Sleep Fairy to seem real so I left little notes with the treats, written in curly, swirly letters, which said, “Great job!” and “You’re a wonder to behold!” and “Of all the children, I visit, you are my favorite!” When he got somewhat bored of the treats I threaded in a bit of intrigue to keep him hooked.

“I wonder what the Sleep Fairy’s name is? The newspaper says no one knows.” I told him.

And the next morning, he found a note which revealed her first initial, “M.”

That turned into a big guessing game and night after night, she’d reveal another letter until he discovered her secret name ….. MELINDA!!!!!

The problem is, once you have a fairy for bedtime, you need one for naptime too, or WTF? What’s up with the understaffed afternoon hours in fairy-land? Primo wanted to know? And then once you get a Nap Fairy and reveal her name, slowly, letter by letter (ALINDA!!), the novelty of it all wears thin and Primo starts wondering if she can bring a Sesame Street-themed pencil, why can’t she bring a stuffed Elmo? Which is what he really wants.

The Sleep Fairy becomes permanent. And Santa Claus. And every day is Christmas.

And you explain, with rising frustration, that Melinda is a very small, tiny little creature with wings no thicker than a blade of grass, and how could she possible heave something as large as a stuffed Elmo all the way through the night sky to his door?

“She’s magic.” he replies.

And that’s when it dawns on you that you’ve made a terrible mistake and that this fairy must be killed off. Stat.

But how? These things must be done delicately . . . .

I started to send little hints in her notes which said, “I think I will have to leave you soon. My Mommy and Daddy are moving to Florida.” And “I will miss you very much when I take the plane to Florida on Friday, never to return,” and then finally, “This is my last note. I am at the airport. I have loved you more than all the rest. You are a very good and special boy and you will do great things. Happy sleeping!”

He was disappointed but he got over it. And our house was free of fairies until the great Poop Withholding of 07, when the Potty Fairy was born. Yeah, you heard me right.