The plan was to get Jesse off of the pacifier (“binky”) when he turned 3. His third birthday has come and gone…and he is STILL using the binky! But, thankfully, we have managed to get him to understand that binky is for sleep time, not any other time. Of course, he’s so attached to his binky that he STILL tries to use it for every other time of the day. But we have been working with him on that. I just don’t want him to be one of those kids with blistered lips because he’s still sucking on his pacifier when he’s 5 years old.
Certain changes in his life have meant disposing of the binky. For one thing, he has started preschool, so on the days he goes to preschool (two days of the week), I tell him “no binky at school” before we head out the door in the mornings (on weekdays) and he’ll happily spit the pacifier into the sink (I wash them religiously so we have taught him to spit used binkies into the sink).
For another thing, he has gotten pretty talkative now – and I just can’t lipread him when he has the binky in his mouth. I have told him several times, “I can’t read your lips with that thing in your mouth.” Of course, he has continued to try to talk to me with the binky in his mouth. And, for some time, I have been telling him the same thing: “I can’t read your lips with that thing in your mouth!”
He does know some signs, and even as he tries to sign other things, he hasn’t quite mastered it yet. So for things he can’t sign, we rely on lipreading to understand what he is saying.
As often I have tried to get him to understand that I can’t read his lips when he talks to me with the binky, it really never got through to him, because he kept trying to talk to me with that binky in his mouth. I feel that, perhaps, tonight, I have finally made some progress.
After I gave Jesse his bath this evening, I had him on my bed, drying him off. He was trying to talk to me, but he had the binky in his mouth. (I had promised him he could have it back after his bath.) I stopped drying him off, got to his level, and explained in as simple language as I could that I needed to see his mouth when he is talking to me and his dad. I can’t understand him when he talks with the binky in his mouth. Gradually, I coaxed the binky out of his mouth and told him to tell me again what he said. He pointed at his leg then said that he has an owie. (He got a scratch on his leg last week and, ever since, it has been his cross to bear.) I acknowledged his owie and reminded him, as I had before, that it would go away. He got his binky back and I finished toweling him off then dressed him. After we brushed his teeth, he said goodnight to his big sister (who gets to stay up tonight because of no school tomorrow) and I put him to bed.
As I was saying goodnight to him, giving him hugs and kisses and telling him goodnight, he stood still in his crib, looked at me and said something.
“What?” I said. “I can’t read your lips with that thing in your mouth, Jesse.”
I tested his reaction as I gently pulled on the binky. He had no problem letting me remove it from his mouth. "What did you say?" I asked him. He looked at me and said, “I love you.”
I smiled. At least this was something he could sign, even with that thing in his mouth. I told him I love him, too, gave him an extra kiss then gave him back his binky. Then I reminded him that “I love you” is something he could sign. I showed him the sign for “I love you” and he did his best to sign it the normal way, not his way. But it’s close enough, and at least this way I get what he is saying whether or not I can lipread him.