Funeral blues for dummies

Stop all the clocks!

Cut off the telephone.

Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone.

Silence the piano and with muffled drum

Throw away the dummies, because it’s not doing either of us any good these days, honestly.

(With sincere apologies to Auden. I owe you one, ole saggy-face.)

I will sing the song of dummy worship any old day of the week. Some people are sniffy about dummies; I am not. When he was little it was simple comfort. Through colic and can’t-sleep, through the many tribulations of being smaller than your average bread loaf, there was always hey you, I am sad. Sucking makes me feel better. Problem solved.

Now there are wants as well as needs, and both are more complicated. He doesn’t often cry because he’s sad, he cries because he wants me to look at him, because he can’t do everything he wants, because he prefers the view from up in my arms, because he likes the sound it makes. There are ten million things he might need to communicate and at the minute he only has crying and a monkey noise in his arsenal. Sometimes I need to take notice and sometimes I need to deliberately not take notice (and I hate treading that line , by the way: I am always puzzling over it. I wish he came with a sign over his head telling me which one to choose).

Either way, the dummy doesn’t fix it. It only stops the noise.

Also – dummy teeth? No. He’s going to have enough problems in that quarter as it is. You can ask my orthodontist (or don’t, because she scared me).

So this week I took the plunge – or, half a plunge – and put the dummies in a box in his room. They stay in his cot, and come out for naps and bedtime. It doesn’t sound like much, but ohhh, long car journeys. The daily parade of banged heads. The witching hour between 5 and 6pm. Dear heavens, Tesco. I am suffering.

There will, of course, be some occasions where it won’t be appropriate for him to sing out his feelings – church, for a start – and as I want him to get used to sitting quietly I think the noise plug will still be useful there. But not on an ordinary day. Not on an ordinary day, self. (I said that last bit louder to be more convincing.)

We’re going to do a couple of months of this while I gather up my nerves, and then I need to think about banishing them at night, too. Since he has never in his two-legged life gone to sleep without milk and a dummy, I have rather an ominous feeling. I’ll be dropping flowers and some ear plugs round to our neighbours, for a start.

The good news is that, through lack of use, the dummy has turned into baby crack. Not a peep out of him at bedtime all week. I’ll be meditating on that the next time we’re down the cheese aisle.


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