The man I love has a crippling addiction which brings shame on our family. Yes, at the grand old age of three my Darling Little Boy still has a dummy. His beloved dodey. He would go to the ends of the earth for those things.
We tried to get Father Christmas to take them away, but if truth be told, I don’t think we had the courage of our convictions and when he woke up having nightmares at the prospect of it we abandoned the plan altogether.
My whole life, my parents have delighted in telling stories of my restless four-year-old self getting out of bed after handing them over and wailing “I didn’t know it was going to be this hard”, like a pint-size crack addict, if that’s not a mixed metaphor.
Apparently I mused: “Daddy, I’ve been talking to Claire Davies next door and she says it was really difficult giving up her dummy.”
The trouble is, there are so many dummy fascists out there, who quite frankly look down on us, I feel, for the fact that he still uses a comforter which should, according to received wisdom, be for the exclusive use of babies under six months of age.
But why is this? Ultimately, the reason babies like them is because of their strong sucking reflex, because of feeding. That’s why some of them suck their thumbs – but of course we all know that ‘you can’t take it away’. Many’s the time I’ve wished Darling Little Boy was a thumb sucker as, for me, ‘can’t take it away’ reads ‘not my fault as failed mother beyond my control it’s nature’.
But really, that’s peverse, since thumb sucking – placing solid bone between teeth –would be detrimental to his dental health, where a soft rubber dummy is not.
It gives him comfort, makes him feel calm and happy. He doesn’t have it when he’s at nursery and we try to only use it at night, in the car or when having some quiet time on the sofa or when he’s hurt or upset.
The only real reason to stop using dummies is for potentially affecting speech but, and I hate to play the Proud Mother card but, aged two my Darling Little Boy declared: “Mummy, the dehumidifier needs changing.” He never stops talking and runs conversational circles around me.
I know a woman who breaks all the rules – children drink squash from baby bottles round at her house. But that woman has endless patience for her three children and the countless other children she childminds. She never spends a moment away from them, and that seems only to make her extremely contented. Her second child still started school still using his dummy. She told me she said to him “you’re just going to have to leave it in your bag and have a secret suck every now and then”. What really struck me about this was her empathy with his predicament. I have far more selfish motivations – I would be worried what people thought of me if he went to school with his dummy.
I had thought peer pressure might be the catalyst for change. But when his much revered older friend tried to wind him up over Christmas with ‘why have you still got a dummy when my baby sister hasn’t” he didn’t care. He likes it, that’s why, and he’s not parting with it for anyone, so there. And in a way, I liked that. The confidence of knowing his own mind.
So, having thought about it, we’re loud and proud. And like any addiction, the person has got to want to give up from themselves. So until such time as he shows signs of wanting to ditch the dummy –which will surely be some time before his 21st birthday – I’m happy.