We started giving our son Reg a dummy to soothe the odd bout of grisliness a couple of weeks into his life.
What naive fools we were. We had no idea what nightmare this highly addictive substance would become.
Effective in itself, it delivers on promise: once dummy is latched we have a calmed, contented chappie. Once dummy is latched.
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This latching follows a period of initial playful resistance which involves spitting it onto the floor, letting it flop out of the mouth, flicking it halfway across the room, while all the time acting furious that the dummy isn’t in his mouth.
I can’t think of an adult equivalent to this outrageous behaviour but I’m sure it would warrant a punch in the face.
This “hilarious” game of cat and mouse causes me to say something along the lines of: “Well, if you held onto the goddamn thing then we wouldn’t be having this problem, would we, light of my life?” in a sickly sweet tone through gritted teeth, which immediately alarms me and I remind myself not to act so psychopathic.
Dummy is latched – hurrah! I turn to continue whatever it is I was doing but by the time I remember what that was a feeble little whimper peeps out.
I turn back to see what the issue is, and there, pressed comically against his cheek, is his dislodged dummy, his little face shocked and confused, then scrunched into full-blown meltdown.
“You wouldn’t last five minutes in the wild,” I tell him, as we start our fun little dance once again. The worst of this is at night. I now spend the early hours with my arm dangling over the edge of the bed next to where he sleeps, blindly feeling for the lost dummy while half asleep, attempting to pop it back in his mouth without having to turn the light on.
It reminds me blearily of games of pin the tail on the donkey, but if I win this game the prize is 10 minutes of peace and quiet, which is a crap prize. I won’t lie, I’ve considered taping the thing to his face.
Despite feeling on the brink of madness I don’t mind this game too much. There’s something humbling seeing how vulnerable and useless he is, how much he desperately needs me.
I will, too, remember these moments when he’s a teenager, when he spots me in town and pretends I don’t exist as he saunters on by with his mates.
I’ll be waving at him anyway, maniacally so, perhaps even waving his dummy…