My sweet baby girl had a birthday last week. She's four. Absolutely and unequivocally no longer a toddler.
I think four was a milestone for her. As soon as the birthday appeared on her horizon, she started thinking about all the things she felt a four year-old could do that a three year-old couldn't: pour her own milk, use our regular cutlery (not the toddler forks and spoons), make her own bed, use the sink to get herself a glass of water whenever she wanted one.
Her biggest milestone was getting rid of pacifiers, or binkies as she called them.
She's been dependent on her pacifier since babyhood. Hunter and I tried and failed a number of times to rid her of the habit. Ultimately, getting rid of them was her choice and in hindsight, I'm happy that it went down that way.
See, addiction runs rampant on both Hunter's and my family. Clearly, undeniably rampant. Though it's only a pacifier, it was Toddler's first chance to address something she felt dependent upon.
She told us that when she was four, she was going to give up her binkies. Seeing this as a teaching and learning opportunity, I granted her wish. So, the day after she turned four, she and I sat down together and I told her it was time to let them go. She bargained: "That's okay mom, I'll just take them from the shelf at Safeway and put them in your basket so you can buy me more." She got a little desperate: "I'll just pick up the binkies that the little babies dropped, wash them and put them in my bed for nighttime." Without much coaxing, she agreed to round them up and leave them for the Binkie Fairy (who, by the way, collects them from big kids and gives them to the new babies - thank you Super Nanny
for that idea).
Hunter and I braced for a few rough nights. We told her we were proud of her for giving up a habit. We acknowledged that she might have a rough night's sleep and we told her we'd be right there if she needed us. What we weren't prepared for was an empowered little girl who went to bed just fine on her own. She slept through the night and when she woke up, found the little present and letter the Binkie Fairy left for her.
She asked for her pacifier the next night but remembered that the new babies had them. She had a tougher time going to sleep that night but she did. By the third night, she was done.
I feel proud of her for setting her own terms and following through. In hindsight, I'm glad we allowed her this opportunity. She's a Toddler no more.