Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Subby

Originally posted here.


Parents magazine has an article this month called "Breaking the Binky Habit."  I didn't read it, since my guy isn't a pacifier man, but it did get to thinking about binkies and what we call them – especially when I saw the sidebar about what kids call their pacifiers.  Pacifiers are an interesting "hot button" topic in parenting circles.  Some literature claims they can lead to nipple confusion, other sources say nipple confusion doesn't actually exist.  Some kids have a permanent binkie-ring around their mouth, and some would sooner spit the thing across the room.  Some parents can't stand pacifiers, some can't live without them.  (The supermoms aren't really either group – though one superbaby is a pacifier taker and the other is not.) 
As I mentioned, E isn't a pacifier man.  That's fine with me; some kids are and some kids aren't.  We don't push the issue – he will take one every now and then for baby daddy (who claims E is the worst pacifier-sucker ever), and he recently discovered a new use for it – chew toy.  He grasps it between his gums, then – POP – jerks it out.  Rinse, repeat.  A new game we play at bedtime in those minutes between when story time ends and nursing time begins, I'm absolutely fine, and actually quite entertained, with this new use of the pacifier.
I think, if E were to ever form an attachment to the pacifier that went beyond using it as a chewing toy, we would call it "subby" – the substitute.  I've never particularly liked the term "pacifier," even though it does explain the basic use of the thing.  I also don't like "binkie" or "Nuk," both genericized trademark nicknames.  (That's a term I learned today, isn't it fancy?  Things like Scotch tape, the Yo-Yo, Duck tape, Kleenex, and Port-A-Cath are all genericized trademarks.  Thank you, Wiki, for that little piece of trivia.) 
When you think about it, a pacifier is quite like a substitute teacher.  It's sort of the same but not exactly the same as your regular teacher (or nipple).  It's not quite as well trained as your regular teacher, but it gets the job done.  It generally lets you get away with more than your regular teacher (a pacifier doesn't set you down when you bite it).  You don't get the same one all the time, since there's a pool to choose from.  You might get attached to it, but in the end, it doesn't know you as well as your regular teacher, and the bond just isn't the same.
And on the subject of pacifiers, this terrifying contraption came to my attention yesterday...  Chew on that for a while.  Maybe you won't be as horrified as me.  But it ranks right up there with bottle prop on my list of dumb baby inventions.

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