Us: Security

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All three of our children coped with infancy in different ways. William took to a pacifier easily so we let him. Jordan exited the womb sucking his thumb, literally, and had no interest in a pacifier. Laura screamed. For the first eight months of her life she was eating, sleeping or screaming. And it was numbing. Looking back, eight months out of 24 years is a small ratio, but when you are living it and it is all you know, eight months out of eight months is exhausting. At one point I spoke out loud what Hope and I were both thinking: Is there a warranty on this one?

What compounded the issues with Laura was how easy William had been up to that point. Even at two years old he was thoughtful, obedient and sweet and Hope and I thought this whole parenting gig was going to be pretty easy. Four months in with The Screamer, we had alienated most of our friends, a few family members and were on the watch list for every grocery store in our county. Even a Winn-Dixie manager gave us the stink eye one time and everyone knows how hard it is to get the attention of a manager at Winn-Dixie. When we tried to go out to eat as a family, we always had to split the meal up in shifts, me walking her around outside while Hope ate and trading off when she had finished. We tried to ignore all of the stares and head shakes of disgust as we traversed the public square but it wasn't easy. What they could not possibly know was they were only getting this symphony for an hour; we were living it every hour of every day. One evening, Hope and I agreed that we would gladly trade what little parenting credit we received for William if people would stop blaming us for Laura. No one took us up on the offer.

One of the downsides of pacifiers, thumbs and any other form of security is eventually the kid needs to move on. William was extremely attached to his pacifier and was determined to fight us to the best of his ability as we began the process of weaning him. We tried a lot of things, but the idea that eventually worked was when Hope started slowly snipping of the rubber end of the pacifier, making it shorter and harder to hold on to with his teeth. Every couple of days she would trim a little more until he decided it wasn't worth it to work so hard and quit wanting one. Since Jordan sucked his thumb, slowly trimming his actual digit was not a viable solution but, with enough coaxing, warning and, eventually, ridicule, he also gave up his security device, only lapsing when he was very tired and almost asleep.

Laura turned her corner one Saturday morning and, like quitting cold turkey, she stopped and never looked back. That morning I woke up and stared at the ceiling. Something was wrong. It took me a few minutes to realize I had actually woken up on my own. I wasn't forced out of bed by losing rock-paper-scissors to Hope again then stumbling across the house to pick up Laura before she woke William, causing the dominoes of a painful morning to start falling. I climbed out of bed, walked as quietly as possible toward her room and peaked through the slightly opened door. And there was my daughter, lying on her back, grabbing at her toes and singing to herself. I should have enjoyed the moment and watched her a little longer, soaking in those first moments of witnessing the real Laura emerge. But I chose to go wake my wife and share the great news that, yes, might could have waited until she got the satisfaction of waking up on her own (and Hope’s response taught me a lesson that day). But nothing could dampen the fact that what had gone down screaming had woken to song. And Laura was done. It was like the mechanism in her soul that was fighting the transition from womb to Florida just gave out. And from that day forward she was the happiest baby we raised. But I still wish she had chosen the pacifier.

1 comment:

Laura Jean said...

The problem is I didnt really become a quiet child. Instead of screaming I just talked... a lot.