Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Ode to the Perfect Paci

I had to dredge this up from my pre-blogging days because.... Long sigh. I confess: Perfect Paci's days are, now, sadly numbered.  That story needs this  one for background: my love affair with Joy's pacifiers.

At our next garage sale there will be a shoe box of pairs of almost new pacifiers: one still in the package never used; the other one of each pair tried once and rejected by our resident Paci connoisseur. All are the byproduct of the Great Pacifier Quest –which about half of us are launched on when our baby comes home from Korea attached to a single specimen of a rare pacifier, as of two of my three have been.
The first time, we got lucky: our daughter’s favorite Korean pacifier had an American twin. The second time I thought we were even luckier. She came home with an American-branded pacifier --Avent, which is available in Korea.
Then two bad things happened: Avent stopped manufacturing that model; and my daughter started using her pacifiers for teething.
Some might think I’m crazy to spend hours of free time standing in store aisles, chewed pacifier in hand, peering through packaging at new pacifiers, trying to discern: is the straight part of the stalk long enough? Is that most- elusive bulbous end just right: silicone, not latex; ovid, not round; gently flat yet missing that abhorrent smashed-flat underbelly that makes other pacifiers orthodontically correct?
 Other well-intended folks insist this is the natural time to ‘wean’ my daughter of her pacifier –perhaps attach the last one to a helium balloon in an official bye-bye ceremony, sending this last remnant of infancy winging up to heaven where (I’m supposed to tell her) a new little baby might need it more than she does.
They misunderstand.  Nobody needs the Perfect Pacifier more than I do.
I’m 42 years old. This is my fourth child and the only one ever to routinely sleep 13 hours at a stretch. I am a sane mom for the first time in nine years because I actually sleep at night. My baby sleeps like a baby --as long as there are two or three pacifiers floating at hand in her dreams so that at any moment she can blindly reach out, grope for a pacifier, touch the magical click-clack of ring on rim, and sound the blissful suck-suck-sigh of a child drifting back to sleep with no help from mommy or daddy.
No: it is not craziness, but sanity that sends me to store after store trying to clone the Perfect Paci.
Saturday morning, I found it. My baby is now the indiscriminate lover of NEW Perfect Pacifiers which, in the dark, must sufficiently pass for the treasured, chewed-up loved-ones.  Now I can retire those, and also lay to rest the worry she’ll bite the end completely off a pacifier and choke herself to death.
 Sunday afternoon I bought six more, and advised my husband we might as well buy stock in Philips-Avent because I intend to let this child keep her treasured pacifiers in bed at night until she goes to college if she wants to.
So the moral of the story is this: when you travel to Korea to bring home your baby, at your first meeting ask your foster mother:  “Does he use a pacifier? What brand? Where can I buy it?” Then ask your social worker to write out “X [fill in the brand] pacifier” in Hangul and carry the note with you when you go out. Show it at every likely shop and stock up on Perfect Pacifiers in Korea.  When you get back home, if you’re one of the lucky few whose baby spits out his pacifier and never looks back, you’ll have a treasure to offer the sleep deprived parents of Korean children who make desperate Internet posts –or stalk the aisles of SuperTarget –seeking a clone of their baby’s favorite Korean pacifier.
If not –if your child, like mine, enters  toddlerhood with a mouthful of teeth and a connoisseur’s appreciation for the nuances of each Perfect Paci in her collection—at least you’ll be able to sleep at night. Literally. And you’ll save yourself the ignonimity of explaining to garage-sale shoppers why you are off-loading a small fortune in new (but not Perfect) pacifiers at 50 cents a pair.

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