Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Binkies and Existential Crises.
Putting mommy's drawing skills to the test.
Before he went to work the other morning, Britt came into our room while I was still sleeping and whispered, "I don't mean to alarm you, but our baby is gone. She's been replaced by a toddler who grew 4 inches last night and now she's all legs." And he's right. We don't have a baby anymore, we have a little kid. A kid who likes to water the plants in the garden and who reads books to her dollies, who pretends to cook hot dogs in her little kitchen and says, "Careful mommy, it hot!" A kid who says, "Hey mama!" And when I say, "What?" She says, "I want to hold you."
A kid who no longer has a binky in the car, and we're gunning for the bedtime binky next. Do you hear me binky? You're next.
Here's the scoop on the cunning binky plan. At my place of employment, some of the kids use "social stories," which are a way for children to learn about a particular social situation, or to be more prepared for an upcoming event, or to learn a certain routine. In extreme cases, they are used to change a target behavior. I'm not a psychologist, but I know Penny loves books, and she loves to look at pictures of herself, so I got to thinking: What if I wrote (and illustrated) a book about a girl named Penny who becomes a big girl and doesn't need her binky anymore?
Let's just say I've spent many nights working on this, and it's finally done. But before I finished, I had a small existential crisis. What effect will the book have? Will it prepare Penny for the impending loss of the bedtime binky? Will it be a self-fulfilling prophecy, or will it merely be an amusing cautionary tale with no lasting effect whatsoever on my child?
That bike was really hard to draw.
Then there was the small problem of the plot. I knew the beginning and the end, but I wasn't sure what should happen to the binky, since I hadn't done anything about the binky myself. I was sort of hoping the book would magically solve that problem for me.
And then I didn't have to wait for inspiration. Because last week, the car binky became so disgusting, I had to throw it away. I was driving when I heard a slurping sound, something that sounded like Penny sipping through the straw in her cup. But when I looked in the mirror, she wasn't drinking from her cup. That hideous sound was coming from the binky. She had chewed a tiny hole in it, thereby compromising the plastic, and her spittle had collected in the bottom. That sound was the spittle being sucked in and out. BLECH.
That's it, I thought. That's just too gross. So when she wasn't looking, I pitched it. The next day, when we got in the car, she started looking for it. "You find it!" she said, panicked and angry. She asked if it was in the backpack, and I said no. I said, "The binky was gross and yucky, and it's all gone now." She was a little sad, but recovered once I started playing her current favorite song ("Sevens" by They Might Be Giants).
Then she said, "Car binky gross-y. White binky in house." And I could see her practically sighing with relief, because her beloved bedtime binky was still safe. Curse you, you clever two year old, you've got me there. It sure is, but not for long. Penny's done phenomenally well without car binky. She's talking more while we drive around, she sings more to the music, and life has been great. The white binky might be a little harder to get over, since that (theoretically) helps her sleep, but I am encouraged by our first step toward our binky-free life.
My sister kindly laminated and bound my book for me, and I plan to give it to Penny tomorrow. I suspect she'll want to read it a lot, and I hope it will prepare her for the next step. Stay tuned.