“I’m just trying to save you $18,000!” was what I first heard after gathering a package of ground coffee and heading back to base camp, our shopping cart, with the baby stuffed in the car seat and a moat of groceries piled around him, parked at the head of the aisle.
It came from an older woman, a mom, possibly a grandma, I could tell by the tone of her voice, pleasant enough but authoritative, and the twinkle in her eye looking at Sonny, one of a woman who knew what it really took to bring something this precious into the world. She was pointing at the pacifier in his mouth, the baby, quiet and content, who no one would notice if not for the Death Star-looking car seat rocking in the shopping cart. She went on about her son, or her grandson, someone’s son, snaggletoothed and lock-jawed, a bizillion surgeries, mouth gear that looked like torture devices, all of it caused by suckling on the plastic teat.
Then, she said it again, “I’m just trying to save you $18,000.”
Part of me wanted to give this woman the back story. We hadn’t originally planned to give Sonny a pacifier. My mother, probably from the same generation as this woman, swore I owed her thanks for the straightness of my teeth because she never shoved what she called a “noonie” (Maybe you call it a “binky” or a “ninny.”) in my mouth. Jaime had one, but didn’t remember it at all, so we were in agreement when we first had “the pacifier talk” (Parenthood is essentially one “talk” after the other, starting with the birth plan, circumcision (Well, hopefully, not if you’re having a girl!), breastfeeding and pacifiers and graduating up to whether or not Santa is real, cursing, and ultimately, sex.). We’d see if we could do without one. But being a good parent means you need to be flexible (Five weeks in, I can say that with confidence.), and after a visit with a lactation consultation, we learned that Sonny was nursing so much he’d be a shoo-in for the Nathan’s hot dog eating contest for newborns.
“I don’t normally recommend pacifiers,” prefaced the consultant before suggesting we look into one. Apparently, the little man really likes the boob (And who could blame him?) and will work it until he pukes (Like father, like…), gets gassier than baked beans and beer night at the frat house and becomes extra fussy. When all you want is to put a baby down so you can eat your first meal before dinnertime, a pacifier is basically a napkin soaked in chloroform, minus a Casey Anthony-stye murder trial, for Sonny. He’s full, content, and, most importantly, quiet, except for the rhythmic sucking and adorable baby coos. Not even the chitter-chatter of shoppers, like our friend, the Pacifier Hater, and blinding fluorescent lights at the grocery store can harsh Sonny’s mellow.
Another part of me wanted to tell this woman the truth–shit changes. When she was a new mom, the pacifier propaganda would have you believe that your child would be some buck-toothed horse after one suckle on the fake nip, but in 2012, pacifiers are designed differently–and some are orthodontist-approved–and have been found to reduce the risk of SIDS, not to mention the sometimes unexplainable fussiness that can leave many parents nonplussed, or worse, up all night and exhausted all day. What our parents and our parents’ parents did, like only letting babies sleep on their stomachs or putting whiskey on teething gums, is sometimes inadvisable, or possibly deadly, today, which doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take any advice (My mother-in-law wouldn’t have that!), just maybe not unwanted advice from random people at the grocery store.
Then, another part of me wanted to say, “Just because you raised a kid doesn’t mean you can tell me how to raise mine.” And, maybe also, “Mind your business, lady” but I’m trying not to be an asshole–at least, not around the baby!–so instead, I began pushing the grocery cart along, though I did offer my own back-handed “advice”–“Maybe you can save us $18,000, but you won’t save us a lecture from a nosy person at the grocery store.”
New Dad 1; Old Mom 0, although I think I should get bonus points for not cursing her out. Maybe you just had to be there…