The kids were each given a bunny when they were tiny from my step-mom (who they now call Ganny). She bought them each one for us to see whether they could bond to them and since then the collection has grown so that Pudding has four bunnies with pink ears and Sausage has four bunnies with blue ears. In hindsight I guess we should have worked harder to make sure they were all the same colour in body, not just ears, but the kids never seemed to mind much and they have really attached very firmly to their bunnies.
Pudding gave up the dummy at around two months and took to her thumb, she holds her bunny in her right hand with the ear wrapped just so around her little fist and the right thumb goes into her mouth. If she is particularly tired or sad she will stroke bunny’s ears with her left had two. And that is how she soothes and how she goes to sleep. Her bunnies were all called Honey Bunny. In December we took her best looking bunny and put it aside while we were in Joburg on holiday for the wedding so that it looked good for her to hold at the wedding. The net result was that after the wedding, that particular bunny was called Wedding Bunny and as there was never again a wedding , Wedding Bunny has never been loved again. But for a while she was still happy with any of the other three. Then somehow one of the bunnies ears became particularly scraggly with long bits of the satiny pink inner ear hanging off. This bunny was called Long Bunny Honey Bunny and over the last few months Pudding has become completely inseparable from Long Bunny Honey Bunny (catchy name, easy to say hey?). Any other bunny was completely unacceptable and getting Long Bunny (for short) washed has become quite an undertaking. And the more Pudding has attached to Long Bunny the more she wants it constantly in her hand, which of course means the more she sucks her thumb.
Sausage on the other hand is a total an utter dummy boy. He was the cause of many broken night’s sleep when he was tiny as I did the endless dummy runs, going to the room to give him his dummy back. Shortly after he was given the bunnies we tied his dummy onto the ear of the bunny to make it easier for him to find his dummy in his sleep (or any other time he is hunting for it). Awesome idea and that single step I am sure is responsible for some of the fabulous sleep that happens in our house (most of the time). Sausage couldn’t care less which bunny you give him so long as it has a dummy on it. So they are all called Dummy Bunny. And the more he has bonded to Dummy Bunny the more he has started walking around with his dummy in his mouth with the bunny hangingoff it. And recently he has even started talking with the dummy in his mouth because otherwise he has to hold the bunny which means he can’t get up to mischief with his hands.
We started off quite strict that comfort objects were only for sleep time and the bunnies lived in their cots when they were awake. When we started school this year we started well with bunnies being tucked into bed every morning before we left for school and getting a kiss goodbye before we left. Because they each have multiple bunnies, there was another one tucked into their school bag for their afternoon nap and the school was pretty good at only allowing bunnies (and dummy) for nap time. But somehow as this year has progressed that have grown more and more attached and dependant on their bunnies (and dummy) and suddenly they had bunnies with them all the time. Sausage’s talking with the dummy in his mouth drives me crackers (I hate dummies and especially hate the way kids try to talk with them in their mouths).
Then on Friday Sausage came home with a rash around his mouth. He has had a mild one before, it seems to be from sucking his dummy too much (and please don’t tell me to keep it cleaner, you try that with a two year old who is in the sand pit and climbing trees and …). And we said ENOUGH.
So Saturday morning Chris had a chat with Sausage who said he is a big boy now and only needs his dummy when he sleeps. Dummy was removed from Bunny and Sausage got on with things. Close to nap time he had a little tantrum (remember he is the small tantrum thrower) wanting his dummy and we simply reinforced that he can only have dummy for sleep time. He got over it quite quickly and that was the end of that. He got dummy over the weekend at sleep time only and on Sunday afternoon even managed to have his afternoon nap (although it was in the car) without his dummy! Each night when he has got into bed he asks where his dummy is and he gets given it, because he is very clear that he cannot sleep without his dummy. Then off to school we went yesterday with a dummy secreted away in his school bag and his bunny with no dummy on it. We got to school and he said he was leaving his bunny in the car. I checked with him if he was sure, and even doubled checked to make sure he understood that he wouldn’t have bunny for nap time in that case and he said “I’m a big boy I don’t need my bunny”. So of course I quietly removed the dummy from his bag and he spent the whole day without his Dummy Bunny yesterday. At nap time he went looking for it, then half way to his bag said “Silly Billy, I left it in the car”. He moaned a little falling asleep, but was totally brave without his comfort objects. Bed time he asked for the dummy again and was given it.
Of course he has had a huge fuss made of him and what a big boy he is and how proud we are of him. And I think Pudding has been hearing this and thinking, “I want some of that attention”.
So today we get to school, Sausage’s Bunny gets left in the car again and when we get to the class their teacher makes a huge fuss of him saying wow and how proud and what a big boy etc etc. Well Pudding promptly hands me Long Bunny and says “I’m a big girl, put Long Bunny Honey Bunny in the car, I don’t need it”.
And just like that it seems we might just be down to bunnies and dummy only at night (early still to feel too confident on this). I cannot tell you how much reading I have done and how much time I have spent thinking about how we were going to take Sausage’s dummy away from him. I have agonised over not wanting to remove his comfort too soon and also not allowing him to develop weird speech as a result of talking with that thing in his mouth. And as always seems to be the case, I spent way too much time overthinking it, because when they were ready, with the right encouragement it has been okay.
I know I know early days, we may still regress and have a million tantrums (in fact I am dying to hear how Pudding handled her day without Long Bunny), but it really feels like we have made a massive leap forward. Once they are used to sleeping in the afternoons without the bunnies we can take the final step and see if we can get rid of them at night too, but one step at a time.