Thursday, February 10, 2011

The paci fairy

Here we are, ten days into the "no-paci zone", and I feel it is safe to say it has been a success. It has also been a challenge.

It was Groundhog day, a cold and gray day when famous Phil did NOT see his shadow (yay!), and when it was time for nap, paci was nowhere to be found. Olivia and I looked and looked, and then I got a brilliant flash of an idea and started telling her that the paci fairy must have decided it was "time". Enter incredibly creative and impromptu explanation of the paci fairy (into which very little forethought was invested). We decided to skip nap that day and worth through the first phase of her grieving process (I also spent a good deal of time actually locating the missing paci while Olivia wasn't paying attention...had to follow through, and a "found" paci would have blown the whole mission). We did some painting and coloring and such, and every once in awhile Olivia would moan about wanting paci, and we'd go through the story again and it passed.

That night, bedtime was much harder than most no-nap days. She fought sleep for something like 90 minutes, which is not unheard-of on a nap day when she is feeling particularly defiant. But on a no-nap day, she is usually out in ten minutes. That night, she fought sleep and mourned the missing paci for a LONG time before she finally just passed out.

I say mourned because that is truly what it looked like. She cried and held me and needed comfort as if she'd lost her very best friend in the world. She wanted to bargain with paci fairy. I told her that paci fairy sometimes watches to see how well big girls do without their pacis and then will leave little treats of encouragement. That seemed to cheer her a little. But then she decided that she didn't WANT treats...she wanted paci. So that first night was just hard.

My biggest fear was that she'd sleep half of the night and then wake up and not be able to go back to sleep without paci. But that didn't happen. In fact, she has slept through the night every night since then. I'm sure the sheer exhaustion of totally giving up nap has assisted in our success, but so far I don't have too many complaints.

Olivia woke up on Feb 3rd to a note from the paci and a chocolate treat. There was more mourning at tired times and at bedtime on the second and third days, but both nights she was asleep within 15 minutes of going to bed. By the fourth night, she was compliant with our requests (mostly) to settle down and go to sleep without begging for paci. Now she simply doesn't ask about paci anymore except to inquire if the fairy would leave her another treat. (We've found that chocolate and notes are great motivators for her!)

Paci fairy will be making her exit this weekend with a big-ticket "prize" for officially growing up and being a big girl. I assembled a new hot wheels vehicle of some sort, and the weather will finally cooperate with her using it outside on Saturday.

One thing I did NOT expect through this whole thing...the lack of dependence on blankie. I was expecting blankie to stay around awhile and comfort her through the whole paci thing. For the first few days, though, Olivia didn't want anything to do with blankie until AFTER she was asleep (when I would sneak it into her hands for tactile comfort). Now she will hold and finger it a bit for the less-than-two minutes it takes her to fall asleep. But it stays in bed when she gets up. She no longer NEEDS it. This is huge.

Despite the fact that I miss my nap "break", this has undoubtedly been a good change. To illustrate this point, here's a before and after:

Before: Paci/Blankie were demanded every time Olivia felt wronged or hurt or upset, and these demands were happening several times a day. She'd take paci/blankie and retreat to a corner to sulk.

After: She has learned to cope better. I have to break up fewer fights, negotiate fewer toy sharings and in general interfere in their play less. Olivia GETS ALONG BETTER with others.

Before: Olivia would get up from bed and lay on the couch with paci/blankie for at least a half hour before agreeing to eat/play/talk. She was usually grumpy.

After: She gets up, leaves blankie behind in bed and typically comes straight to the kitchen to request breakfast. She sometimes lays on the couch, but she is generally in a pleasant mood.

Before: Long car rides would induce screaming fits if paci/blankie were inadvertently left behind. Such fits would continue until we reached our destination or she passed out. This was NOT pleasant.

After: During long car rides, if she gets tired she just stares out the window quietly, trying to stay awake. Sometimes she falls asleep, but it has thus far been peaceful.

These are just a few examples of the positive changes I've seen. In addition...she's fairly pleasant ALL DAY, despite not having a nap. I don't know if it's exhaustion or if she is just a grumpy napper, but many days she'd behave horribly AFTER nap...worse than she ever did in the mornings. Now she seems more even-tempered and calm and easier to get to do...anything. She pays attention better. It's like my incredibly difficult child has just become...a normal three-year-old.

If I had known how nice life would be without paci, I would have pushed this change a LONG time ago.

No comments: