Shortly after 2 a.m. on Saturday, 9th February, I crept into my sleeping son’s room, pulled his final dummy from between barely resisting lips, slipped my hand under his pillow to retrieve the spare, took a minute to admire his sheer cuteness and adorableness, and left. The Dummy Era had ended. Not with a bang, and, as it turned out, not even with a whimper. When I predicted that his protests would be brief and short-lived, I was wrong; they were non-existent.
He did inquire after the dummy a couple of times. "Where’s the yion dummy?" he asked me at naptime the next day. (He has some trouble pronouncing L’s.)
"The dummies have gone away," I told him.
"Where did they go?"
"Away. They’ve all gone now. You’re a big boy now, and…" I shut my mouth on that particular parental cliché before it could drivel on into the line about not needing them any more – after all, I realised, he might have a different opinion on that, and uttering mine was unlikely to be helpful here. Instead, I realised, I could simply go ahead and tell him the truth. "And it’s bad for your teeth to have dummies for too long."
He wailed. I empathised aloud about how it must be difficult to give up dummies, only to discover that what he was actually wailing about was that he wanted all the Night Garden books before his nap and I’d told him I was only going to read him two. That may of course have been displacement emotion, but he showed no sign, then or later, of being concerned about the dummies. He did ask Barry about them on one subsequent occasion, but apparently accepted their absence easily.
Getting him to settle to sleep has been a bit more difficult, mainly, I think, because the dummy had become a signal that it was sleeptime – without that, it’s that bit more difficult to transition him from pre-naptime bouncing around to settling down. He’s taking longer to fall asleep at his naps (he already took ages at bedtime) and on one occasion a couple of days after the dummy removal he didn’t get to sleep at all. But, overall, he appears to have accepted the absence of the dummies just fine. And that particular source of nagging guilt is lifted from my life. I can face the next dental appointment with a clear conscience.