I decided very, very early on, probably before I even left the hospital with W, that should he ever require the aid of a soother like a pacifier that we would NOT be referring to it by any of the names that I had heard around the block: passy, binkie, dummy, button…I decided that it would have a nice, dignified name and when W began teething at 2 months old and a pacifier was our only saving grace we named it Patsy Cline.

Patsy was an instant fixture in our lives. She had her own accessories and literally stayed connected to W at all times thanks to these fantastic clips. The day W learned how to be in charge of his Patsy Cline was a massive milestone. It meant no longer having to exit off of the freeway to retrieve and clean a flung Patsy, it meant an awareness that he could soothe himself.

Around six months I started to get commentary from strangers about W’s love affair with Patsy. When they weren’t remarking on his physicality (“he’s so skinny!” or “he’s so long!” or “he’s so pale!”) they had something to say about the technicolor silicone cork in his mouth. Never mind that having Patsy was what was preventing W from eating the handle of the shopping cart, never mind that Patsy was helping him deal with an unfamiliar or loud restaurant, people just HAD to remark about it.

Some people had anecdotes about their own children/ grandchildren- they spoke with kindness and fondness. Some people were concerned that my parenting manual was missing some pages and they needed to fill me in on how to get rid of the Patsy.

I honestly wasn’t concerned. I knew that Patsy was serving a purpose- she was there for the greater good. I usually smiled at the comments or wheeled away laughing. These people didn’t need to know that another reason W needed Patsy was because he had a problem with making himself vomit.

It’s not something I’ve written about but it is fairly common and is connected to babies that connect self soothing with oral soothing (thumb sucking/ pacifiers) – but if W is stressed or anxious about something and he doesn’t have Patsy he puts his fingers in his mouth and makes himself gag. Pulling his hands away doesn’t stop it- it’s almost like a compulsion. It’s terribly upsetting for both him and me and so at the end of the day why go through that? We’ve got Patsy.

But I have always known that one day he would outgrow her. As he should. Whenever I post a photo of W and he is with Patsy I usually get an e-mail or two from someone asking me when I am planning on weaning him. The answer is – I am not. W will wean himself. When he is able to participate in letting her go then we will work on letting her go. I am in no rush, his doctor is in no rush.

One of the things W has been really aware of is inside and outside objects. He has a ball. It stays outside. He has empty boxes of cereal that he plays with. They stay inside. For some reason this notion totally clicks with him. If he has two empty boxes of cereal in his hands and he wants to go outside we will say, “W, those need to stay inside.” And he drops them without any issue. Mother has been very instrumental in explaining what objects “live” where. And without any fuss, truly, he gets it.

This notion carries on upstairs to items in his crib. He has his dear rabbit, Alice, and now a fuzzy blanket. Those stay in the crib. So if I pick him up in the morning and he is holding the blanket I say, “that stays here” and he will let it drop back into the crib.

About a week ago when I reminded him that blanket stays in the crib he dropped blanket and then he did something interesting – he pulled Patsy out and placed her in the crib. W and I looked at each other and he raised his arms up to me, “up! up!” And we had an entire morning without Patsy.

This has gone on for days now and I think we are soon to say goodbye to a dear friend. She remains a companion in the crib and in the car, but when he is running around at full speed he does it on his own.  And forgive me this total mushy moment, but it’s such a tangible sign of him growing up that it takes my breath away. Will I be this emotional when potty training is among us?

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