I never thought I’d be sad to see my daughter ditch her binky. But I am. I’m terribly sad. This last vestige of her babyhood, gone the way of so many sweet onesies, pink receiving blankets and tiny, little shoes.
She dubbed it a “kiki” when she was around a year old and the term stuck. “Kiki?” She’d request with big eyes and a grin. “Where’s kiki?” She’d place her little starfish paw in mine and tug. “Mama, where’s kiki? KIKI, WHERE ARE YOU?” She’d shout as we’d begin our thousandth search that day for her binky. “Dare he is! Dare’s kiki, mama!” Then she’d pop it happily in her mouth and sit contentedly watching her Wonder Pets or Fresh Beat Band.
Her kiki comforted me as much as her. Once chubby, unsure legs are long and strong, wispy hair now thick and curly, but somehow, as long as she sucked on that binky she was still my baby girl.
When I see the toddlers of other parents sucking on binkies I don’t find it cute. It’s annoying when they talk around the slobber and the binky and I imagine that’s how others feel when my Wylet uttered her garbled sentences around the binky that she took to chawing with her molars, like a giant plug of chew. And, like a nicotine addiction, her desire for the binky was rabid. Plus, quite honestly, I would rather stick bamboo shoots under my fingernails than spend another minute of my time searching for a lost binky.
In the end it was her penchant for chewing her binky that led to its demise. She’d chaw holes into the plastic nipple, which ruined its suckage. These binkies were promptly declared “broken” and discarded like so many that went before.
Initially, I dutifully replaced these broken binkies, but about three weeks ago — during a particularly manic Walmart visit — I forgot to purchase a new pack of my daughter’s addiction. Nine that night found us scrambling to find a non-broken binky. Considering I’ve probably purchased no fewer than eight billion binkies that mysteriously go missing every day one should’ve easily been discovered after a quick search under her bed or a dig through her toy box. Alas, there were none to be found.
Desperate to soothe the raging addict screaming for her binky fix, I handed her a broken binky that had been thoughtlessly discarded on her dresser.
“No! Broken kiki. It’s BROKEN.”
“But it’s all we have.”
“BROKEN KIKI. NO!”
Eventually I soothed her enough to creep out of the room. When I returned to check on her an hour later, there she was, asleep with broken binky firmly in her mouth. I guess sucking on a broken binky is akin to an alcoholic glugging mouth wash if no alcohol can be found on the premises.
But she doesn’t enjoy broken binky, you see. The next few days she’d grudgingly accept it at bedtime but stopped asking for her binky during the day altogether. Now, at night, she rarely asks for it. She has assumed, I guess, that it’s the last binky on the planet and that no more new binkies are available for purchase. Every now and again she’ll sigh as if giving in to some internal need and request “Broken kiki?” I’ll hand it to her but, more often than not, when I go in to check on her hours later, broken binky is already lost in the covers.
I feel triumphant that the solution for something I thought would be very difficult came so naturally, but I have shed a few tears over the fact that my daughter no longer asks for her kiki. Not even the broken one.
But I realized something important: I don’t need a binky to know that she’ll always, ALWAYS be my baby girl.