Baby Teaching Her Father to Fetch
Maddie went a little bit overboard on her pacifier-tossing mission during this morning’s walk. At this point, I’m worried that her first words will be, “Fetch, boy!”
Her first herculean toss was executed just as we were walking out of our beloved Starbucks. I leaned down to hand Maddie a piece of bagel. She snatched the passy out of her mouth and clutched it in her right paw. It was fine with me if she wanted to hold onto it.
We were all the way to the corner before I realized that her pacifier was MIA. I swung a quick u-turn and began the morning hunt. I was amazed when I spotted the infernal device more than twenty feet away from anyplace where we had walked.
Did a dog move it? Did it levitate? Did some angry businessperson give it a good kick? I guess we will never know. We went back into Starbucks, gave the pacifier a good cleaning and were on our way.
The pint size comedian still had a few more tricks up her sleeve, but for now she was playing it cool. About 45 minutes later, Maddie began petitioning me for another shot at her pacifier. We were headed up the train platform as I handed it over to Maddie.
She sucked the pacifier for about ten seconds before transferring it to her hand and firing it onto the train tracks and of course there was a train coming. Somehow we made it home in one piece with the pacifier safely in my pocket. Let’s face it, Maddie is more than a little bit crafty!!
Hunt for the Purple Pacifier
The hunt for the purple pacifier may not have the global ramifications of a Tom Clancy novel like the Hunt for Red October, but it does pit man against a fiendishly clever baby. The baby in this case is my 11-month-old daughter named Madeleine.
Over the months, Maddie and I have endured a wild series of sock and pacifier search and rescue efforts. We have climbed hills, missed trains and braved the elements to bring the missing items home alive. I’m proud to say that we still boast a perfect record on a dozen or so of our recovery missions. But binkie-busting is a hard life and not for the faint of heart.
Sometimes items come back dirty and I mean really dirty. Reckless drivers have been known to drive right over stranded socks without a care in the world. Our mantra in baby country is, “No passy left behind!” One of the ways to ensure this never happens is to conduct multiple spot checks. That way if a passy goes missing, you have a much smaller grid to search.
So this afternoon when I saw Maddie had lost her pacifier, it was GO TIME! I realized the error of my ways in an instant. It had been far too long since a pacifier spot check.
Step one is always the same – SEARCH THE BABY! I checked her sides, behind and all her hiding spaces and came up empty. This was the real deal! I scanned the horizon in back of me, but the sidewalk was clear. Not a good sign, but we’ve been through worse.
We zigged and zagged, traversing the same path we had taken on the way out and NADA. Our record was in peril. One block, then two and still nothing. I could feel the sweat gathering on my brow as this mission was going south in a hurry. I stopped and looked at Maddie for some signs of encouragement and stopped dead in my tracks!!!
The little devil was smiling at me from behind the missing purple pacifier! So many emotions rushed to the forefront. Our record was still untarnished, but what trickery did Maddie employ to hide the binkie from her dad? We will never know where the little girl hid the passy – maybe we were never meant to know. But it’s always nice to be outwitted by a baby who has yet to celebrate her first birthday.
Baby Daughter Demands Equal Driving Time
Maddie’s driving continues to improve each day, but her parallel parking is still a disaster. Actually, Maddie was great a passenger both to and from the airport during this most recent trip.
We had to find the perfect balance of snack time, bottle time and naptime but it all seemed to come together with a minimum amount of carnage during these 3-hour-marathons back and forth to Chicago.
I’ve become the designated sleep whisperer for all trips surpassing the two hour mark. If I’m not driving, I’m in the back seat sleeping with my little commando. The motion of being a passenger in any vehicle or airplane puts me right to sleep. Maddie is not the best sleeper in a moving vehicle unless she’s stuck with me.
The best way to keep the baby sleeping comfortably in the car is to know where a pacifier is at all times. This is true even if you are sleeping right along with the baby. As soon as Maddie starts to stir, my eyes snap open so I can quickly locate the closest pacifier.
Maddie opens her eyes the tiniest bit. I pop the pacifier into her mouth. Then the baby confirms that she is in the company of loved ones. In less than 8 seconds the event is over and the princess is back in dreamland. I always make sure that I am not too far behind.
For whatever reason, this shared sleep method does not work for us during air travel. But at least Maddie gets a reasonable nap before we begin to battle the forces of evil at the airport.
Wanting to Crawl is Half the Battle
I often write about the fact that Maddie can’t crawl yet because until today, she has never really showed the slightest interest in that type of activity. Her tummy time is usually spent in the push up position until she complains loudly enough to be picked up.
Today however, there was a distinct change in Maddie’s motivational makeup. I had just placed her on her tummy with her pacifier sitting right in front of her about six inches away. I was just about to retrieve it for her – but for some reason, I decided to just watch for a few moments.
Instead of crying out about the injustice of it all, she actually made a play for the pacifier. This definitely caught my eye because in the past, if it was out of reach, it just wasn’t an option that Maddie cared to worry about.
This time, she wanted that darn thing and was primed to put in the effort to go get it. She started out with some sort of breaststroke variation that only succeeded in turning her around. I pointed her at the pacifier again and those legs started pumping like pistons.
Let me cut the suspense right here – NO, she didn’t crawl to the pacifier and NO, she didn’t get close. But this subtle shift in attitude is monumental.
There was no way Maddie was ever going to learn to crawl unless she found a way to motivate herself. Just the fact that she wanted to transport herself forward is a sharp shift in her standard operating procedure.
Later that afternoon, I set up the same scenario in another room. I put Maddie on her tummy with the pacifier just out of reach. Once she spotted the pacifier, those legs started pumping and her arms began flailing. Again, she never got close to the prize, but I strongly believe that the desire to crawl is ultimately what will make it happen.
Pacifier Hunt Triggers Land Shark Feeding Frenzy
Just when you thought it was safe to go near the crib! My wife and I witnessed a series of sinister and terrifying shark attacks this morning on the baby monitor.
We’ve all heard about the chupacabra capture in Texas or the numerous Sasquatch sightings through out the years, but no has ever seen what a crazed land shark is actually capable of once they misplace their pacifier.
As many have you might have noticed, when the land shark is at rest, she takes on the shape of my gorgeous 7-month-old baby girl named Maddie. Those striking eyes and dazzling smile can lull almost anyone into a complete state of euphoria and relaxation.
But when she wants that pacifier and it skitters away – it’s like chum in the water for a bloodthirsty shark. There we were, two doting parents watching our bundle of joy on the baby monitor when Maddie fumbled her pacifier and it slipped out of her reach.
That’s when the transformation began and you could see a dorsal fin rising up from the crib. Perhaps that is a bit of embellishment, but the following remarks include no over-dramatization (not too much anyway).
Maddie wanted that pacifier back and was willing to fight for it. She actually spun and lunged face first for her fleeing pacifier. My wife and I gasped at the spectacle of it all.
When the land shark came up empty, she made another blind face-first-lunge for the elusive prey. This time she face-planted into the mattress, but continued thrashing about in hopes of scaring the pesky thing back to the surface. Sadly her vast efforts did not produce the results she was looking for and the pacifier remained hidden behind her shoulder.
After the heartbreak of a second failed strike, Maddie decided to feed on her feet instead. This was a good plan except for the fact that the pj’s she was wearing had footies on the bottom. The poor land shark finally decided that it would just be easier to order room service.
She let out a few angry hoots to summon the servants that is was time for them to come and pick her up. Later that morning, when Maddie was messing around with her strained prunes and raisins, she took comfort in the knowledge that her next paralyzing strike would come without warning.
Toy Bear Breaks Down Sleep Barriers for the Baby
Many of the sleep issues we have struggled with in the past month have been severely agitated by the development of Maddie’s hand-eye coordination and her subsequent struggles with the pacifier. Once the baby learned that you could grab what you see – the pacifier became a real sleep liability.
Since Maddie has initiated the practice of taking the pacifier in and out of her mouth, it’s gone from a useful tool to a toy. (NOT GOOD) She is most proficient at taking the blasted thing out of her mouth, but putting it in properly is still a work in progress. Now when she sticks the pacifier into her mouth backwards or at the wrong angle, her mood breaks down in a big hurry.
If this sounds like it’s not a big deal, think again. These poor pacifier practices rob the family of approximately 6 hours of sleep per WEEK!!
Just when all hope seemed lost and we were ready to concede defeat, a nameless hero appeared from the ashes. It was a bear, no more than 18 inches long with a smart bow affixed to his collar. He doesn’t speak much, but he offered his paw in friendship to Maddie.
Maddie was reluctant at first, but quickly realized that this bear was someone who was also looking for a friend to comfort. Suddenly, the nasty pacifier lost its hypnotic hold over the baby. She was free to spit it out and take out any sleep-deprived frustrations on the bear with no name.
I don’t know how long this bear will be in Maddie’s good graces, but I hope he’s in for the long haul. I’ve offered him a 10-month contract with bonus potential for each additional hour of sleep we get each week. His agent has assured that we are good to go, now it’s all up to Maddie.
The Prolific Power of the Pacifier
Man does our little girl love her pacifier! I personally don’t watch the Simpsons, but I have seen enough commercials during NFL games to know who Maggie is and what she’s all about. When the cartoon baby loses her pacifier, all bets are off and she probably goes postal.
I don’t know if it’s good or bad – but Maddie, not to be confused with Maggie, also sees her pacifier as a cherished friend who is always ready to listen and comfort at a moments notice. And as much as I hate to admit it, I feel the same way about that little piece of plastic and rubber.
These things are absolute lifesavers. They are the common cure for restlessness, the sucking reflex and general fatigue. It makes sense that a pacifier would pacify the baby – but it’s soothing powers still continue to amaze. I can’t count the number of tantrums or crying sessions that have been headed off by this tiny little prop.
The pacifier is also an invaluable tool when it comes to the filling the diaper department- nothing relives the baby’s stress more than that little baby soother. It is a device that we will always be grateful for – even when it’s time to get rid of them.
And it’s not like she wants the pacifier all the time either. It never takes the place of food or hunger. And when she doesn’t want it – she’s more than happy to spit it out. Sometimes she launches it a good two to three feet or more. So unlike Maggie, she doesn’t need it all the time, which is a very good thing.
As parents, we try to practice moderation in all things and we feel blessed that Maddie already tends to regulate her pacifier usage. Several sources say that parents needs to ditch the pacifier at about 18 months – and I’m all for it. But until that time – we will continue to appreciate the power and the glory of the mighty pacifier!