Goodbye Sweet Chucha
Are you asking yourself what the heck a chucha is? It's not what you are thinking, I promise; get your mind out of the gutter. A chuca is short for chupeta. Still no? Any Portuguese people with me? I'm not Portuguese, but my last name is Silva, which is Portuguese. My husband is Portuguese, his father was born in Faial Island, which is in the Azores, and although I've never been there, it looks beautiful. I'm digressing, my apologies.
Ok so let's review, my husband is Portuguese, and his family calls a pacifier a chucha, which I think is short for chupeta. So, a chucha is a pacifier, in Portuguese. For anyone who doesn't speak Portuguese, it's pronounced "Shoo-sha", and my daughter often referred to it as her "shoosh". I apologize for the quick Portuguese lesson, but without knowing what a chucha was, this story wouldn't make much sense.
My daughter loved her chucha. Like, loved in a happily ever after, butterflies and unicorns, gliding on air, hearts dancing over her heard, kind of way. No matter what happened, her chucha could make it better. You fell down? Skipped a nap? Broke your favorite toy? Got sand thrown in your eyes? Broke your leg? Mauled by a tiger? Attacked by a great white? No sweat, chucha will make it better.
Being a third child has it's perks. For one, the first two children have worn your parents down, so they are a little more relaxed, and maybe less worried or stressed about milestones. For example, with one of my sons, he loved his chucha as well, but the chucha was negatively impacting his speech, causing us to feel compelled to take it away from him by the age of 3. We actively prepared for this transition, fearing the worst. After 15 months of no sleep, when he was a baby, we were terrified of anything that would rob us of our beautiful, non-disturbed slumber, and so the inner conflict began...he loves it, it comforts him, it helps him sleep, which lets us sleep, which makes the sun shine a little brighter...vs...he's almost 3, the experts say to take the pacifiers away by 3, it's negatively impacting his speech, it's effecting his teeth, it's time. Knowing it would be difficult, we talked about it, read books about it, and eventually, even shared that the chucha fairy was going to come and gather all of his chuchas so she can clean them for the new babies who needed a chucha, and in exchange would leave something for him. My son did better than expected. He whined a little the first night, but once he fell asleep he made it through the whole night and was excited to find a special blanket and toy in his room when he woke up.
Fast forward 6 years, to when my daughter was 3 years old, and I wasn't having the inner conflict or worry that I had with my son. I was more confident in my parenting, in trusting my instincts, and knowing that she would be fine as long as she wasn't packing a chucha on her way to college. We dropped little knowledge bombs on her when it happened organically, saying things like "pretty soon you'll need to leave your chucha out for the chucha fairy so she can clean them and take them to the new babies who need them." My daughter would look at us with such worry in her eyes, that I knew she wasn't ready.
I'm a parent coach you guys, I know what the experts say; "studies show prolonged use of pacifiers may result in increased ear infections, malformations in teeth and other oral structures, and/or speech and language delays", but, my gut wasn't saying it's time, my gut told me I would know when it was time. When she turned 3 we put some boundaries in place, meaning she could only use a chucha when she was sleeping, so during nap or bed time. It was a little hard for her at first, but she rose to the occasion and accepted the limitations for keeping that beautiful little pink chucha around a little longer.
Here's the thing these days, parents, and non-parents, love to judge other parents. Firstly, let me make it clear that nothing boils my blood like a non-parent judging a parent. I remember when I was pregnant with my twins, 10 years ago, and a friend dropped by to give me a baby gift; and after hearing I was unsure about breastfeeding, continued to tell me repeatedly how breastfeeding was the best option. I got an entire thesis on the benefits of breastfeeding, even though it was clear I was leaning towards bottle feeding, but hadn't made my mind up. Another time, when I first had my twins, I had some of my girl-friends over to work on centerpieces for a bridal shower we were having for someone. I had put the boys down for bed at 7:30, (I think they were 1 and 1/2 at that time) and around 8:15 one of them woke up crying. When he didn't settle down in a minute or two, I ran upstairs to settle him, give him a kiss and fix his blankets. When I returned downstairs, one of my friends said to me "Oh, you haven't Ferberized them yet?". Deep breaths were helpful, but seriously you guys, it's so easy to have an opinion about parenting, when you aren't a parent.
Secondly, if you are a parent, don't judge other parents! You do you. You get to raise your little love muffins however you see fit, but you don't know everything, you don't have all of the answers, and it's not helpful to judge and shame other parents for their parenting choices. To be clear, I'm not referring to extreme situations with parenting. I'm not saying parents have the right to hurt, abuse, neglect or traumatize their children, I will have an opinion and a loud voice about that; I'm referring about the mom who wants to breastfeed until her child is 5, the mom who let's her kids have more screen time than you see fit, the mom who doesn't make her kids eat any vegetables, or the mom who doesn't have a set bedtime for her cherubs. Let's remember we don't always know each other's stories, so we shouldn't be so quick to judge each other. Ok, hold on, I'm getting off of my soap box.
My long winded point there was that I didn't feel pressure to take the chucha away from my daughter because I trusted my parenting identity, my parenting choices, and my instincts to do what's best for my child, regardless of what anyone else may think or believe. So, we let her keep her chucha, reminded her often that it would have to go pretty soon, and waited for a natural opportunity to show itself. Then, one day, my daughter felt inspired by her brothers who had started running every day, and wanted to "run". I had just finished running on the treadmill, and was about to walk upstairs to take a shower, when my daughter went out front with her daddy to go for her "run". Literally, two minutes past, and then the screaming began. I ran to the front door and found my husband scooping my daughter off of the pavement. There was blood. Not like a murder scene, violent movie blood, but enough blood that I had to take a breath to not let her see the worry in my eyes. Her mouth and nose were covered in blood, her left knee was all sorts of torn up, and she was screaming so loud, that I'm pretty sure my parents could hear her all the way from Massachusetts. Thankfully, her teeth were fine, but her top lip and all under her nose, were immediately so swollen that it was pointy. I won't bore you with the significant drama that ensued with trying to clean her wounds, apply some hydrogen peroxide, and put on a bandage, but eventually we got her settled, gave her a popsicle, hoping to help with the swelling, and called off the national guard, because we knew we were going to be alright.
That night, at bed time, when my daughter went to put in her chucha, she couldn't. Her lip was still so swollen and sore, that she couldn't suck on it. She...was...devastated. My heart hurt for her because she was heart broken, but here it was, the silver lining of the faceplantgate of 2020, the innate opportunity to have the chucha fairy come. We didn't call for the fairy to come that night, she was too sad, and I didn't want this to become a traumatizing memory of falling on her face and then losing her chucha all in one fell swoop. The next day we praised her for being so brave, such a big girl, and sleeping all night without her chucha. On her own she said "yes, I am brave, maybe we can have the chucha fairy come and take them for the new babies." No sooner did she utter those beautiful, and saddening words, than we grabbed a sandwich bag and corralled all of the loose chuchas so they were ready for the fairy.
That night, when we put her to bed, my heart felt a little heavy. Yes, this was a good thing, she was giving her chuchas up, and she seemed ready, but it was also a sign that my baby,
my last baby, was growing up. I would never again give one of my beautiful, Silva babies a chucha. It was so final, so significant, and so much harder on me than I thought it would be. We all went to bed that night, slept beautifully, and awoke with excitement when my daughter saw what the chucha fairy brought her in exchange for taking her chuchas.
I am thankful for it being a pretty smooth transition, and I am so thankful for the peace, comfort and security that my daughter got from the chuchas she used. Goodbye sweet chuchas, we will miss you, and the sweetness you brought to our lives, but we're thankful the orthodontist bill may be a little lower with you gone.