Tuesday, April 13, 2010

who cares what anyone else thinks?

At 33 months of age, Henry still has a pacifier.


I never would have believed that I'd have an almost three-year-old sucking a pacifier, but I do. Then again, I never imagined that I'd nurse a child until they were 2.5-years old, but I did that, too. And I'm very glad I stopped when I did, because there is NO way he would have self weaned before Kindergarten.

And that would have been awkward.

At least for me.

"Uh. You want an apple? Here's one, love!"


A few weeks ago, I wrote that when Henry wakes up from his nap, he'll sit on my lap and put his hand under my shirt to touch my skin. I received more than one e-mail from people who felt compelled to tell me that it is TMI and totally inappropriate.

Totally inappropriate?

My goodness, he's not GROPING. He's got one hand resting on my waist. Or back. Or somewhere in the abdominal region, pinching my belly roll.

What? Your toddler doesn't do that?

Maybe it's because I nursed him for the first 2.5 years of his life that Henry's bond is touch.


Every morning, he'll crawl in to bed with us and curl up next to me for an hour or more. It's one of the highlights of my day. He won't get up until I do and even then, he'll cry because all he wants is for me to hug him close. If Henry had it his way, he'd stay curled up next to me always. At least until someone opened the front door to the house, and then he'd take off running just as fast as his little legs will carry him.

There is no doubt, he is the most cuddly of our four children. Which is shocking to believe because when he's not cuddling with me he can be an absolute tyrant, swiftly taking down children twice his size. Although Henry hasn't been back to the church nursery for over a month, after watching him in a jump house at a friend's recent birthday party, I could see why he was booted out of the nursery.


Having birthed multiples once before, I've always believed things would be far less complicated if Henry had a twin. Because everyday of his life, he has been surrounded by children that are bigger and older than he is. Children who will often run away and not show any interest in playing with him.

Sometimes, the older kids are running away because they like to see their little brother chase them. Other times, they're running away because they don't want to be bothered. In either case, I'm always watching and always encouraging that they play nicely and not hurt his feelings, or - I'll find something for Henry to do so that he isn't invading their quiet time.

(Henry! Quick, come touch Mommy's bell roll!!)


Whenever Henry is in the company of children who are the same size or smaller than he, I can tell that he is socially unprepared and perplexed.

How do I communicate with these little beings?

Do I hit them? Kick them?

Body slam them?

While I'm very strict when it comes to playing gently with other children, I'm especially aware that I grant Henry much more leniency than I did with his siblings. When the triplets were his age, they were on a very strict schedule. Mealtimes, bed times, play times - everything was so carefully orchestrated throughout our day.


But now, with *only* one toddler, I find myself making concessions left and right.

He gets away with so much more.

Sometimes we're out doing things, so Henry naps in his stroller, in his car seat, or doesn't nap at all. During Henry's tenure, there have never been any baby gates in the house. Henry has free reign. And if he doesn't want to eat dinner, he doesn't have to. While everyone else is seated eating broccoli, he'll climb out of his booster seat and run around while chomping on a banana because Mommy and Daddy quickly cave since they don't want to hear the screams of protest.

None of us can tolerate the screaming.

Even the triplets will beg that we let him down from the table, even if it means they still have to sit there and eat their vegetables.

Sure, he goes in to time out, but we lack consistency. Because there is only one and because he is so stinking cute. Even when he's throwing a tantrum. Throughout it all, I almost always remain certain that Henry will turn out just fine and this stage of unbelievable defiance is just a blip on the radar screen of childhood.

My primary goal is to hang on and enjoy this awesome ride.


But I'm not always so confident.

One day last week, we were at Legoland and Henry was dressed in his tattered Buzz Lightyear costume. It was drawing close to nap time and he was getting a little punchy and a lot loud, so I slipped him his pacifier and pulled him on to my lap. But only after he had thrown himself on the ground kicking and screaming and drawing a load of stares because I wouldn't let him hold and eat an ENTIRE box of crackers.

Once he was in my arms, one of his little hands was immediately searching for skin.

It doesn't happen very often, but I felt very self conscious. The out of control toddler, the dirty costume, the pacifier attached to him with no less than three carabiners, the little hand up my shirt resting on my waist. I doubt that more than a hand full were really looking at us, but it certainly felt like they were.

Who is calling the shots here? Me or my toddler?


For a moment, I had the feeling that my lack of consistency and discipline was catching up to us and now, I'm ruining our child and I'm an absolutely reckless and careless mother. Never before did our triplets throw a monster tantrum like that when we were out in public (at least not that I can recall?), because they were always so well rested and scheduled.

I need to throw down the law.

Who's the boss?


I will not be run over by a two-year-old.


As these thoughts are passing through my mind, I look over and see a little boy who was about four-years-old. He had just come off a ride and his mother was waiting for him outside the exit gate. Once he joined her, he started to throw a fit until the mother reached in to her bag and pulled out a baby bottle. Then, she opened her cooler and took out a can of Crush orange soda.

Cracking open the bottle and then the can, she poured the soda in to the baby bottle, screwed on the top, and handed it to her son, who plopped down on a bench and proceeded to suck it down, entirely. Fortunately, I was wearing sunglasses to hide my eyes which were bugging out of my head, because then the mother pulled out a can of chew, shoved a wad in to her mouth, and sat down next to him.


She appeared happy.

He appeared happy.

I am in NO way going to judge this mother's methods.


Although, I am going to feel slightly relieved because surely she'd draw more stares than me.


  1. Sweet. My 6un yr old is the only one that nursed for a full year. The other two only went a couple of weeks but they are the ones that now crave skin contact. My five year old just likes to sleep with us, my 19 month old reaches down or up my shirt for comfort.
    So I get it.

  2. OK - I would agree with you - different strkes for different folks etc, except for one thing.

    You are spoiling him, you are letting him think that whatever he wants, he gets and you letting him think there are no boundries. and that will not stop unless you stop it, painfully and loudly.

    I have just been through this with my youngest, who is the same age as your triplets. She was an arch-whiner. We have had a zero tolerance on whining for the past 3 weeks and are nearly there. But Boy, do I wish I did it a long time ago.

    As for the pacifier - they are called dummies in the UK, because that is what they make the child into. Also, you'll be looking at a wonderfully huge orthodontist bill because it changes not only the shpe of the teeth but also the shape of the jaw.

    It sounds like he needs to socialise with other children nearer his age. Otherwise, he;ll be the problem child in kindergarten who sticks out like a sore thumb and you'll be the parents being called in.

    My final point - is it fair on the triplets? Nope. 1 rule for them but a different rule for Henry. No wonder they run away from him.

    Seriously, this sounds like 1 big criticism and I am really sorry for that because I think you do so much well. However, you are not being fair to Henry if you are not trying to make it as easy for him to be loved by other people as much as by you, and that means making sure he knows who is boss and what the ground rules are.


  3. Being the oldest or the starter child as I refer to myself my youngest sister got a way with things that my other sister and I were sure we'd be killed for (satire people).

    The Trips were your starter kids, thus they broke ground for you and Charlie and THERE WERE 3 OF THEM.

    Henry is your baby, he will always be your baby and as such he receives (and deserves) the special treatment that he gets. Although I think I'd draw the line at sending him to college with a pacifier : )

  4. When my son was 3 I took him to the toysjop with all his pacifiers and he traded them for a toy. It was all prearranged with the shop keeper. Maybe your Henry might trade for a new buzz costume LOL

  5. My son is 5 and he loves to cuddle. And he will put his hand up my shirt and rest his hand on my belly or my back when he cuddles and it is the most wonderful thing. As you said - he is NOT groping. He is just resting his hand on my skin. He is a wonderful, well adjusted child on all levels. I am convinced Henry and my boy will be very nice, adjusted, balanced human beings!There is nothing wrong with a cuddly child. Enjoy! I think it's going to end soon. And then we will yearn for a "real", heartfelt hug from our boys.

  6. I'm much more lenient with my 3rd baby than I was w/ my twins. In fact, my 3rd has taught me to loosen my grip of control over my other two.

    She had a paci until almost 3 too. I once explained to her that "pretty soon we'd have to stop using the paci because it's bad for you teeth". About a week later she handed it to me saying "I no need it. It's bad fo my teef." That was the end. (So much easier to relax and follow their lead! With some gentle prompting, sure.)

    She was also a skin toucher. Especially after she weaned she needed her paci and skin. First, it was my skin, or that of any "mommy-type" holding her (she groped a friend in church once. Hee). She then progressed into feeling her OWN skin, needing pj's that allowed access to teh bellah.

    She's 3 1/2 now, usually quite sweet, but definitely on a looser leash than my other two ever were. I actually (usually) feel like a BETTER mother to her, because I don't fight the silly/unnecessary stuff. Funny how so alike our situations are. =)

  7. STOP IT - a can of chew??? She did not. SERIOUSLY? Okay, okay, not judging. I'm not. Ha, my jaw is dropping more from the chew than the soda! My now 3 year old nursed until 2.5, too. Who cares??? I do feel like she's ruling me lately, but I can't stand the screaming either. Henry is adorable and YOU are a great mom! Now, put down the cigar and find that pacifier! :)

  8. I struggle with this as well. I have older twins, and a daughter Henry's age and an 8 month old. Sometimes it is sooo much easier to just give in to the 2 year old and keep the house peaceful. I feel guilty about it afterwards...that I am not sending her the right messages at all. I didn't let my older kids get away with stuff like that, why should I let her??? The running around at dinnertime is a big one for me...absolutely drives me nuts and half the time I let her, just so the rest of us can eat in peace. I like to think I am being consistent with the "big stuff", but there is so much "little stuff" she is getting away with I am afraid I am creating a monster sometimes. And then other times I think I was too "hard" on my older boys and I am just being more relaxed this time. And then I realize that I am just justifying the fact that I am easier on her by saying I was too hard on my older kids. Glad to know I am not alone in it!


  9. The entire time I was reading this post, I just kept thinking- HENRY IS SO CUTE.

    I'm not even a mother, but I totally understand why he would be spoiled. He's your adorable baby. :)

    Marla @ www.asthefarmturns.wordpress.com

  10. Hi!
    it's amazing how what is acceptable or not can change between countries! I do live in France and here, seeing a child with a pacifier at 4 or even 5 is not rare and even if some people would say it's not normal, the fact is that many child keep there pacifier at leats to sleep sometimes until 6 or 7. Same for baby bottle, for breakfasts, i remember drinking my chocolate milk in a bottle until i enter primary school at age 6. And it happen in many families here. But here, a child in a diaper past age 2 is really uncommon and if your child is not potty trained when he enters preschool (at age 3) you get really mean comments on how much a bad parent you are for letting your child soiled himself past 2 year old... In fact, pampers stop at size 5 here because if a child is as heavy as 20kg, he's about 5 or 6 so he must be potty trained for a long time, there is no demand for size 6 or 7.
    if the pacifier isn't okay where you live, it can be totally acceptable somewhere else!

  11. Oh gosh, can I relate. Our youngest definitely gets less schedule and hand holding than our oldest did at this age (soon to be 2). Our youngest is a very loving boy, he loves kisses and hugs and would love to be in our arms all day and night if we would allow him to and he has had only one tantrum as of yet...he is still young. And yes he sucks something too...his thumb and I know he will be sucking it until kindergarten. It is their way of settling down and they NEED it. So don't feel bad that Henry is sucking a pacifer and needing to touch your skin. Whatever makes him happy and life a little more calm, DO IT!

  12. My youngest, who is now 5, still likes to put his hand in my shirt for comfort. He doesn't reach all the way in and grab anything, but he loves to rest his hand just inside the neck of my shirt. I think raising boys who take comfort in gentle touch is important and in no way inappropriate!

  13. Man, Anna, you are TOUGH.

    I sucked my thumb until I was 12. I was in braces for four years. Elizabeth sucks her thumb. William and Carolyn didn't suck their thumbs, but they did chew on their blankets and according to our pediatric dentist ALL of them will require braces.

    What child these days, doesn't require braces? Every one of my SIX siblings had them and yet, I was the only one in the family to suck my thumb.

    Unlike Elizabeth who will probably ALSO suck her thumb until adolescence, Henry's "bucky" will probably be gone within a few months, much like William and Carolyn's chewing habit stopped by the time they were in their 3's.

    Until then, I'm not going to deprive him of something that he uses primarily to sleep, and which keeps him quiet at critical moments. Like when I have a headache.

    If that makes me a Dummy Mommy I'm cool with that. BRING IT.

    Henry does get away with a lot, but he's TWO. And as the youngest, he has to put up with a lot considering he is outnumbered three to one. The youngest in a family always gets a bum rap and is labeled "spoiled" when I think that is completely untrue. It's not easy being the baby.

    Just ask me.

    The triplets don't ALWAYS run away from Henry. Sometimes they do. Then again, sometimes I do, too.

    Did I mention he's TWO?

    He has a wonderful, dynamic, and highly energetic personality. Although I'm definitely providing ground rules, and do plan to put him in a preschool once the triplets start kindergarten, my objective at THIS age, is to let him bloom as the awesome person he is meant to be. While doing my absolute best to keep him safe. Which isn't an always easy job.

  14. Oh, and my 7 year old is still sucking her thumb, while loving on her blankie (looks like an old, chewed up rag). Braces? Probably. And she knows it. I get it :)

  15. My guess is that it's not easy to be the younger brother to triplets, and Henry probably needs (demands?) extra attention because he feels he needs to. As far as 'spoiling' goes, you know him best and you know whether or not he is being 'spoiled' (I hate that word, actually). I think it's a great idea to send him to preschool when the trips go to Kindy. He will definitely benefit from the structure and from the chance to establish himself as an individual, away from his siblings. And to have another authority figure in his life. My 3-year-old twins will start preschool in the fall and I CAN'T WAIT! A little separation and independence goes a loooong way :)

  16. If you are looking to get rid of the pacifier maybe restrict it to when he is sleeping ie nap and bedtime first.This baby stage is so fleeting why is a bit of spoiling such a bad thing, i doubt he will be going to college in a buzz outfit with a pacifier lol


  17. I sucked my thumb until I was eleven. Never had braces and my teeth are perfect to the point of dentists waxing poetic over them.

    Whatever that's worth to ya.

  18. ooo, I like the idea of trading in the binky. Brilliant! Then it seems as though Henry is making that decision and it may not be so hard.

    We dropped the binkies when the kids were 6-months-old, for the simple reason that the babies had a love/hate relationship with them and the things kept falling out which would prompt the kids to scream bloody murder. So, short of duct-taping them to their heads (my mother-in-law wasn't too keen on the idea) we decided it wasn't worth it and ditched them.

    See if you can find some others around Henry's age and just have play dates. Around this age, the younger ones tend to play by themselves for the most part anyway (among kids). Would be good for Henry to be around kids his own age.

    No need to quash his "Henry-ness" but I'd keep the same table rules for all of the children. That could come back to bite ya later on, when he's 3 and VERY stubborn. Nip it now.

    Oy, the can of chew and the orange soda in a bottle. God Bless America.

  19. Geez, Anna you are tough! Both of my children used pacifiers until just before their FOURTH birthdays!! Neither child is a "dummy" in fact, my son (now 5) is somewhat of a mathematical genius! Seriously. I'm just sayin'

    Jen, he'll lose the dummy when he's ready :)

  20. I took my almost-three-year-old daughter and her two friends (three and one) to the library yesterday by myself. At one point, my daughter threw a fit because I wouldn't let her eat crackers out of the bag (I had just set out bowls of crackers for each child). I hardly noticed her tears I was so preoccupied with caring for the other two. I'm sure if it was just me and her, I would have caved and let her have the whole bag.

    What I noticed after watching three kids is that each child needed to be a little more selfless, as I only had so much attention to go shower. I hope that when we have another our daughter will learn to think of others as well as herself. I know she will as she grows anyway. Two is a very self-centered age.

  21. Some of your second commenter's points are fair. But I don't agree that you will do well by having the same rules for Henry as you had for the triplets. Henry will be handled differently because his circumstances are different. He is a singleton. They're not. They reap the benefits (and disadvantages) of being triplets. And Henry will reap the benefits of being a singleton.

  22. O.K...I posted above, but thought I would add this. Someone once told me that they had a "rule of thumb" they used when trying to make decisions on things as a parent. Would the (insert behavior/issue here) have an impact/effect or a potential impact/effect on the child as an adult?

    For ex. will the fact that Henry uses a pacifier until age 4 have an effect on him when he is 30? Obviously, the answer is no. In 28years it will be such a non issue you probably won't even be able to remember when he gave it up and he won't even remember using one.
    For me, the battle isn't the paci, it's potty training. My almost 3 year old daughter is ADAMENT that she doesn't want to be potty trained. When I look ahead, will it really matter for her at age 30 if she potty trains at 3 or 3 1/2 or even 4? Not at all, so I stopped battling her. When she is ready, she will do it.

    Another ex. is the getting up and running around during dinner (which as I said above I am also guilty of!). Will that have an impact/effect on them when they are older? Probably not, but who knows? Maybe they will outgrow it, or maybe not. Maybe they will always have awful table/eating habits. Since that one is a "grey" area, I would say to err on the side of caution and make them sit at the table. Easier said than done, but I feel guilt about this one and that is another red flag for me!

    Other ones are obvious answers...being ugly/mean/hitting, etc...COULD have an effect if left undisciplined so those are easy.

    Anyway, this rule of thumb isn't perfect, but it's a very easy/quick way to look at a situation and make a decision. Especially when you are trying to make a FAST decision, which seems like most of the time for me!


  23. I actually really appreciated this post. Everyone speculates how they will parent when they have children, or more children. I know I've heard myself say, "I'd never let my child walk around with a paci past 1 year!!" But, honestly? Each kid is different, and I think we change and develop more as parents with each new child.

    My first was easy. She broke herself of her paci habit when she was 6 months. She just quit using it all on her own. My second is now 8 months and he still uses his paci, and I'm inclined to let him. Even when we get nasty comments from my hubby's grandparents about it being "gross." And he's only 8 MONTHS!

    I've actually heard from our pediatrician that it isn't even worth worrying about until the child is three, and then you should just gently try to wean them from it.

    And as for spoiled? I was SPOILED as a child. My kids are SPOILED. But I wasn't a spoiled BRAT, and neither are my kids. I think there is a difference, and I don't see anything wrong with spoiling a kid with love and affection. Your kids are polite and caring individuals, so I say just keep at it.

    Henry and his paci won't last forever! He's two, not twenty. So I think for now he's okay. And SOOOOOO cute! I love those big blue eyes!!

  24. What's Chew?

    Pacifier/Dummy - my 2 girls were very attached to theirs. At 2.5 we reduced it to be only used in bed - but you could see them go to their bed and lie down with dummy and RELAX. It helps them calm down. As it got closer to 3, there was only 1 dummy left......we talked about the shop not selling dummies for 3 year olds.

    At 3, luckily their birthdays are close to good holidays. So the reindeer took one and the easter bunny took one to take home to their babies. They were okay with that. That was the end. Of course, they then needed to learn how to relax without dummies (or fingernails).

    Much easier than getting rid of thumb sucking (8 and still struggling).

    As for not eating veggies. Take directly to bed. Close door to block screaming sounds. Give meal for breakfast....lunch.....etc. If food not eaten in 1 day. Make vegetables again and continue. Food will be eaten. Maximum 3 days until all vegetables eaten. Yes, 3 days of screaming and complaining etc. But vegetables need to be eaten for a reason. It really does work. And don't be a sauce oger (ie, such and such a meal cannot have sauce on it)- got to make it bearable. For their own good. No exceptions. Buy earplugs if you have to - seriously, we did for our last. You have to win or the rest of his childhood is going to be a nightmare.

  25. tripletsMy three kept their "suckers" a long time. Three or four, maybe five? Mostly just for napping. I vividly remember a relative of mine taking mine away and I was NOT going to do that to my kids. It's a source of comfort. All three of them need braces (Kyle already has them)and all three of them still sleep with a blankie or stuffed animal. They turned 10 two weeks ago. So what, who cares, whatever comforts them, be it a pacifier, blankie, lovey, or a roll of Mommy so be it.

  26. I so enjoy my peeks into your lives from time to time!

    My kids this year will be 21 and 25 (with the 25 yr. old getting married this August) so I'm sure anything I say will be from my lofty perch of been there done that.
    And my two cents is -- don't change a thing that you are doing.

    My son being 4 years younger than his sister was so very much like Henry. I nursed him longer than his sister, he wasn't fully toilet trained until just after he turned 3 (while my daughter informed me no more diapers at 16 months). She in turn had a pacifer until she was 2 and had no dental issues. (Can't we put that misnomer to bed now!)

    My son didn't like to nap (from birth)was extremely stubborn, was a picky eater (found out at age 10 he had Celiac) and even tho' he had the big social sister who doted on him had a rough time getting along with others in our montessori preschool yadda yadda yadda


    both the kids were fabulous during their teen years (stubborn toddlers translate into confident teens) and both have amazing leadership qualities while still marching to their own (successful) drums.

    Childhood is truly fleeting, so I say enjoy every bit of it. The touch to the skin will turn into the arm across the back when they are a teenager and the big hugs and kindness to Mom as an adult. It's the base stuff of a close, loving family and I feel truly sorry for the commenters on here who run their lives in such a rigid manner.

  27. I sucked my thumb until I was in my teens (on the sly during stress). I was not dumb and I have the most perfect teeth, no braces. Seriously I'll email a picture they are perfect. My sister used a dummy. Again perfect.

    Boundries are important but that being said:

    Fair is NOT Equal. There are times in every child's life when they require more and different strageies. They are unique and what works for one will not work for another.

    So Henry needs to curb his aggression. You guys are working on that. There is always something with every child and those needs are then met as such.

    Read Barbara Coloroso. She has some excellent implementation strategies for manipulations such as whining, yelling and pure stubborness. Strong willed kids can grow up into independent, less likely to be manipulated teenagers. She calls parents who are hardliners: brickwall parents and points out the consequences in the teen years. (Think the policeman's kids acting up and you can see that.)

    She was a nun, became an educator, married and raised three children. Amazing woman to watch.


  28. She also talks about mealtimes snd eating.

  29. I have twin 5 yr old boys... one sucks his thumb (still but has limited himself to mostly just when he's really tired or in bed) and the other sucks his finger (a lot). I have no issues with that. Orthodontics happens even if you don't suck yor thumb or use a paci. It is such a natural comfort. I definitely think the paci shouldn't be an issue.

    I also think the snuggling and skin touching isn't an issue. That will sadly go with time :( In the meantime, that's how he connects with you. One of my boys is naturally snugglier than the other and he'll sit on my lap, lean into me and reach up and play with my hair. The other less snuggly one will still gently touch my arm, hand, etc. when I'm reading to him. That's their way of getting mommy' comfort and connecting with me.

    As for the discipline - sorry, but I think that needs to start up. Being inconsistent is really hard for a kid and probably makes things even harder on you. I'm guessing 2 weeks of pain will sort of kick the screaming and carrying on (at least for the most part!). Good luck!