Monday, March 19, 2012

Bye-Bye, Paw-Paw

This is a sad post to write. After gearing up for weeks, I finally did it: I snipped holes in Lucia’s paw-paw. A few days ago, I poked holes in her orange one with a needle; she didn’t notice. The next day, I put very small cuts with scissors in her green one; she peered at it a moment, then just went on with her day. Finally, yesterday in the late afternoon, I put two dramatic snips in her orange one. She put it in her mouth, spat it out, studied it, repeated that process a few times, and then said clearly, “I need a new paw-paw.” And I, feeling like an evil traitor, had to tell her that this was her only paw-paw and it was time for her to carry it instead of put it in her mouth.

She is handling this unexpected turn of events with surprising equanimity. Yesterday, she said a few times that she needed a new paw-paw but seemed to accept my ridiculous explanation that now that she was older, it was probable that paw-paw just felt different in her mouth, and that was okay, she could still snuggle it and hold it and sleep with it, and—oh!—she’ll also get a fabulous new toy soon to celebrate this important milestone.

When I say these things, I feel absurd. My explanation has no coherence, no logic. But last night she went to sleep with nary a peep (knock wood). And this morning she carried paw-paw around but wasn’t fussy or upset. Her nap suffered today—though she lay down as usual, I heard her talking and singing a half hour later, and even after I went in and sang a few songs, it took her a very, very long time to fall asleep. She wasn’t crying or calling for me—she was just in her room, quietly playing. After her nap, however, she was very whiny and clingy and distressed; she didn’t want me to put her down, didn’t want Greta to touch her, didn’t want me to hold Greta, didn’t want to do anything at all except watch Olivia. Which I let her do. It calmed and cheered her, and afterwards we took a walk to buy her a new sippy-cup, which she also liked.

And so—we’re really doing it. We’re really phasing out paw-paw. I’m prepared for a few increasingly tough days as the reality of it sinks in, but I have my eye on the prize—no more paw-paw. This isn’t to say it’s easy on me. Every time she gazes at paw-paw and says quietly, “I need a new paw-paw,” I want to cry. My poor little baby. When I cut those holes, I almost felt like I was committing an act of violence, akin to cutting off the arm of one of her beloved stuffed animals. Taking this from her is easily among the most heart-breaking, unpleasant things I’ve had to do as a mama so far.

But that new toy? Not a bluff, and pretty great, if I do say so myself: arriving tomorrow (I hope!) is a gigantic box of play food I ordered from eBay, 270 pieces of it. Lucia plays constantly with the paltry selection of food we have here, and she is going to love this.

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