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Aug 24, 2011

The Pacifier Story

“Raising kids is part joy and part guerilla warfare” 

- Ed Asner

Dear Riddhie,

It may seem funny to you but truly one of the first things that I wanted to buy for you here was a pacifier. Not that they were not available in India or something, but I guess a need for having you use one became paramount after we arrived here in the US. You see, back home our support system included your grandparents and your multiple aunts and uncles and other elders who would willingly hold you when you felt irritated or displayed a willingness to be held and strolled around, but here the only people you ever saw were your mother and me and at times, I guess it became a little too monotonous for a baby, like yourself.

So, once you got settled in and accustomed to your new surroundings, it did not take long for you to be bored of the same faces you saw around every single day. Gradually, I observed that you started getting a little hyper and resorting to screaming and constantly babbling and crying. I looked up some references and it occurred that a pacifier might help distract you for some time and help you get off your recently acquired habit of crying out for every single thing you wanted.

The following weekend saw us reach out to the nearest ‘Babies R Us’ store to zero down on a perfect pacifier for you. Now this may seem a little exaggerated to you, but then having had no previous experience of buying one and having seen only a few limited options that one has in India, it was overwhelming to see an entire section of the store dedicated to the baby pacifiers of various kinds. There were ones segregated by the infant age and then by the types. There were pure silicone ones and pure latex ones and then a few in-betweens. There were calcium filled ones and dry suckles and then with separate cases and tags and then those without them. I had never in my dreams had thought that it would ever be a matter of research but then I actually ended up looking up Google to find one that would serve the purpose.

Once home we were in for another surprise. Even after multiple attempts at coaxing you into it, we could not get you to hold it or make it stay in your mouth for more than half a minute. You loved spitting it out or throwing it off as far as you could and we gathered that it was now perhaps too late for you to get hooked onto it. It eventually turned out to be a lost battle.

By the time we sat down for dinner that day, you had finally asserted and firmly etched the authority of an infant over its parents. I finally realized that as parents we can only hope to do the best for you and forcing things upon you was certainly not the way to go about it.

But then there is a funny side as well to this story. As we started eating we let you sit by my side. The moment my eyes turned aside you picked up a chicken wing from my plate and happily started digging into it. Since you were still teething and could not really chew, I deduced that probably it felt good on your gums or something. An idea sprung up and I cleaned up a wing, removed the flesh and handed out the soft bone for you. You accepted the same delightfully and were all relaxed and intent with your new prop instantly. All the energy that you were devoting to screaming and jumping and rolling over was now channelized onto this little piece of interest that you relished rubbing on to your gums and gnawing on as your tiny little teeth permitted.

I guess thereafter as a ritual once we wanted you to sit quietly or keep yourself busy, we would spring up a fresh cleaned up and softened bone and hand it out to you. Maybe in all those shelves in the store where we searched for a pacifier, another box of ‘pacifier bones’ needs to be added.

By the way, to those others who might be flinching at the idea of an infant sucking on a bone for a pacifier, let it be known that I would never give Riddhie something I do not believe in myself. A bone once cleaned up is a good source of calcium and I guess rubs the gums the natural way to help ease out the itching during teething. The only thing one needs to ensure is that there are no sharp edges to it that may hurt the child.

For you Riddhie, if you think that it wasn’t the right way to be, have a look at the following pictures and see for yourself the satisfaction and the delight that you derived out of the entire act.

Riddhie Riddhie

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