Amaia is a pacifier baby.
It started early on. She was such a cranky baby and horrible nurser that we quickly found relief by offering the pacifier.
And oh, how she loved her paci. At about 11 months old, she even made up a word for it. One morning when I went to get her out of her crib, she pointed to the ground at a dropped pacifier, pursed her lips together like a duck, and blew a messy, slobbery raspberry.
“Bbbbbbpbbbbbbbbllllppppp!” she blew while pointing at the object of affection.
“Huh? You want your pacifier? Okay.” I handed her the paci and from then on, Amaia used her duck-faced raspberry any time she wanted her pacifier.
Over time, the word for “pacifier” changed. “Bbbbbbpbbbbbbbbllllppppp!” morphed into “brrrrrrrr”, which slowly changed to “berrrrr”, which finally gave way to “boo”. And that’s what we’ve called her pacifier ever since: her boo.
During this past year, it’s grown increasingly obvious that Amaia needed to give up her boo. Her upper palate had narrowed, her front teeth creating a large, gaping hole of bucked teeth perfectly molded to the shape of the pacifier.
Chris and I talked about our strategy: deception, pure and simple. We told Amaia all about how Tinkerbell was going to come one night for her boo and take it to Neverland, where she would feed it to the Tick-Tock Croc. Peter Pan would then come back and leave a gift for Amaia in exchange for giving up all her boos.
The problem was, Chris and I just didn’t have the heart to go through with it. Amaia had such a strong love for her boos that she needed several to fall asleep at night. At minimum, she would have on to suck on and one for each hand. On a super lovey-dovey night, we would actually give her an entire cup of boos to take to bed with her.
Oh yes, she loved those nights especially.
Then, last week, we had our moment of truth: Amaia’s first visit to the dentist. The dentist, a pediatric specialist, has some kind of magical ability with my kids. He managed to fix Elise’s busted teeth without so much as a whimper from her. He also told Elise she needed to stop sucking her thumb or she would ruin her teeth — a habit she had picked up at the ripe age of 9 weeks old and something we thought we’d never break her of. But just like that, that very same day, Elise stopped sucking her thumb and hasn’t done it since. That was 7 months ago.
But Amaia’s boos? This was going to be a different story. Amaia’s incredibly strong will, combined with a deep love for those rubbery rings, was surely going to be a battle.
The thing is, the moment I saw what the dentist saw — how all but her molars were completely gaping away from her lower jaw, how narrow her palate had become, how much orthodontic work she was going to need to correct it — I knew we had to quit the boo.
That afternoon, Chris clipped a hole in the tip of one of Amaia’s boos and handed it to her. She popped it in her mouth and . . . nothing.
“This is broken! My boo has a hole in it!” she complained, handing it back to Chris.
“Oh baby, it sure does. I guess your boo is getting old,” he lamented.
For the next few hours, Amaia would periodically pop the paci in her mouth, pull it out, and glare at it with a look of utter disgust.
That night and the following night, we allowed Amaia to fall asleep with the boo in her mouth. But then we’d sneak in and take it out.
The first morning, Amaia was really pissed at Peter Pan and Tinkerbell.
“Tinkerbell come and take my boo away! She feed it to the Tick-Tock Croc! My boo is gone! Neverland!” she cried in her broken, 2.5-year-old toddler-speak.
“Oh jeez, Amaia, you’re right! Tinkerbell must have taken it away last night!” we would reply sympathetically.
On the third night — 4th of July — she was so exhausted from the day’s festivities that she fell asleep without her boo. On the fourth night, she consciously went to bed without it. She fussed, but never asked for it. The same has happened every night since — a bit of a fuss, but never requesting the boo and falls asleep without it.
The dentist isn’t confident that her teeth will go all the way back, but he did say they should go back to a significantly more normal position in the next few months. He also assured me that stopping now would save us probably two years of orthodontic work down the line.
So it looks like the boo is a goner. Funny, it seems that Chris and I were more emotionally attached to it than Amaia was.
Bye-bye, old boo.