Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Time For Goodbye

From one day old, Reese's "paci" has been a steady companion offering comfort. As a baby, he always had a strong desire to suck, and as a toddler his paci offered comfort during stressful times like traveling & boo boos. At night & during naps, Reese's pacis were always plenty--and always one in his mouth & others in his hands.

For a while, Jeff & I disagreed on the "proper age" to take a paci away. I was convinced it must be by 18 months, then by 2 years, then by 3 years. Jeff listened to Reese's needs & wants, and argued that the paci was doing no if it comforted him & he enjoyed it, why take it away? Once I allowed myself to accept the truth behind Jeff's argument, & did realize that the paci was doing no harm, I let my preconceived notions go. We never made an issue of taking away the paci.

About 6 months ago, I taped a picture of a sports bounce house onto the refrigerator. I didn't mention anything about it to Reese, & one day he noticed it and asked me what it was. I told him it was a gift the Paci Fairy would bring when he was ready to give her his pacis. He thought it was a novel idea, but was not ready to hand over the beloved pacis yet.

For months that picture was taped on the fridge, and Reese would stop by often & look at the picture. I never said anything to him, because I knew when he was ready, he would let us know.

Eventually, he took the picture off the fridge & threw it away. He never asked to give his pacis away, & he never asked for the bounce house. The time just wasn't right, and it was not our place to force him to be ready.

Last week, a toy catalog came in the mail & while I was looking at it, Reese came over to share with me. He asked what all these toys were, & I told him it was a catalog of Paci Fairy toys. He found a Whale Rescue Toy package that he instantly was ready to trade his paci for. I wasn't totally convinced, but Reese was adamant that we write the Paci Fairy a letter that day.

We asked Daddy what the Paci Fairy's address was:

Reese dictated the letter to me. He worked very hard at signing his name, & asked Mommy to show him how to write the letter "E" in his name.
So I placed an order online that night for the Whale Rescue toy, & every now and then we'd talk about what it really meant to GIVE the Paci Fairy your paci...that it would be gone forever & you wouldn't be able to get it back. We wanted him to realize the finality of this process, & not that he'd get a groovy new toy and then have his pacis the next day. Again and again, he said he understood & he was ready, which was always said with a hesitant voice but big smile.

The Whale Rescue Toy kit came in the mail on Monday while Jeff was out of town. I tucked it away in the dining room so Reese wouldn't see it, but I wanted Jeff home to share in this important milestone.

On Tuesday, I asked Reese if he thought the Paci Fairy had received his letter in the mail, and if he might want to leave the last paci we had for the Paci Fairy that night. Daddy was coming back into town & we would all be together. Reese was very excited & said an enthusiastic "Yes!" We went into the wrapping paper closet & found a special box to put his paci in, & Tuesday night we found the perfect spot by the front door for the box.

He bravely put the box by the door, & we started turning off the kitchen lights as we headed back to bed.

Then he said, 'I forgot" and sat back down and picked up the box containing his paci.

He struggled a bit with the lid, but eventually got it off.

He reached into the box and pulled out his paci. He pulled his paci to his lips, stopped and in a low voice said 'good-bye paci...good-bye forever"

With that he placed his paci back into the box and replaced the lid and set the box down for the paci fairy.

He got up and walked away.

We both watched and each in their own way said good-bye to part of Reese....Goodbye forever.

Then we went to bed, the same as always, but different....

Hold onto every single "last" that your children experience. Jeff & I both find ourselves crying privately over the loss of babyhood & the fact that Reese chose to move beyond his paci stage. I find myself wanting my baby back, but beaming with pride at his big decision. I'm one proud Mama today :)

As a side note...Jeff wrote the last part of the story on the Blog today. I feel so blessed to have a husband who feels things as deeply as I do...who stops what he's doing so he can write down his thoughts & his side of the story. I feel lucky to have a hubby who wants to be a part of all these milestones. Mostly, I feel fortunate to be married to my best friend, because knowing we can share these moments together gives me great strength when I feel weak.

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