The Dummy

Our grandson is turning 2 next month, and until yesterday he had a dummy. He had several actually, often at the same time. Sometimes he would walk around with one in each hand, one in his mouth and swap them around, as if somehow one of them could give him more than the one he already had. He is very expressive, but would speak with the dummy in his mouth so that we could not understand him, and when we asked him to take it out so we could hear what he was saying, he would get upset.

Our grandson was very attached to his dummies, and this was one of the few things we could use to discipline him, as he cared about them so deeply. He would get very agitated if he could not find his dummy, and at night, if he fell asleep and the dummy fell out of his mouth, its absence would wake him up.

We wondered how we were ever going to wean him off them.

Yesterday, he was playing around being his cheeky little self and throwing the dummy on the floor. He had been doing this quite a bit and he was down to his last dummy, as several had been thrown in the bin. We told him that if he did it again, we would put his last dummy in the bin. He did it again. His father calmly stood up, picked up the dummy and placed it in the bin. His mother and I gasped. His grandfather stood firm. He was in shock for a bit, then started screaming. This went on for a while.

He was put to bed, comforted and held, and the screaming went on for a while longer, until he finally fell asleep. We thought we were in for a wild night, but once he fell asleep, he slept soundly, and woke in the morning, shining and bright.

He came out to share a cup of tea with me and when the rubbish truck came, we went outside to watch it pick up the rubbish, with his dummy in it. He was so different. There was a calmness, an ease about him. Gone was the anxiousness, the plaintive wailing, the demanding, the insatiable desire for something to put in his mouth, whether it be food, drink or the dummy.

He was so expressive, chatting away clearly and interacting happily. It was as if someone had taken the stopper out of a bottle, and the contents were now free to flow. He went to day care for the day, and when it was time for his afternoon nap, there was no dummy. He giggled and said: “Daddy threw it in the bin!,” then went to sleep. No fuss. He had just let it go.

I learnt a few lessons from all of this.

Firstly, love is not always what we think it is. In these days of ‘helicopter’ parenting (parents who hover over their kids, attending to their every whim and desire), we think it is somehow a loveless thing to let kids feel the consequences of their choices. It is not. That is what love is. Holding another in the love that we are and allowing them to feel that they too are that love.

Secondly, we never know when another person is ready to evolve to the next level of their life. And we should never get in the way when the time comes. I felt he was actually wanting to get rid of the dummy, but did not know how to do it. It had become a burden for him, and getting rid of it has created an enormous sense of spaciousness and ease in his body.

Thirdly, we can use anything in an addictive way, even a bit of brightly coloured plastic. Anything that we use for relief, to numb ourselves, to not feel, to distract ourselves from what we cannot but feel, can become a crutch that we depend on. And knowing that we are dependent on it creates a contraction, and a sense of unease in us, for if we depend on it, what on earth are we going to do without it?

Fourthly, children are amazing, and we can learn so much from them. Their so-called bad behaviours are often their way of communicating to us what is not true, and offer us a way of bringing them – and ourselves – back to truth. We can listen to and honour these markers of what is and is not true… or not. When a child “acts up”, what are they communicating to us?

I love that I live with our daughter and grandson and get to witness and be part of raising another child, having learnt some lessons the hard way while raising my own.

I love that life is a cycle, how everything comes around, how we are all in this together, and how we are all growing and evolving, back to the oneness we are from.

Published with permission of my family.

By Anne Malatt, grandmother, eye surgeon, Richmond Hill, Australia

Further Reading:
Good Parenting Skills
The Purpose of Parenting
The Beauty of Meeting Children and Allowing Them to Be

615 thoughts on “The Dummy

  1. A great example for all of us. I can relate to this very much with food, I might actually not like how I feel when I eat something and then deep down love it when the package is finished even though I might feel grumpy for a bit because of the things I have to feel. It is greater to feel than to numb away even if it does not seem so at the time.

    1. Yes Sally, what Anne describes in her blog makes it very clear how we can keep our children small by pandering to them instead of being firm and reading the truth of what is going on. We not only keep them small but also we don’t allow ourselves to feel what love is and how children learn from the consequences of their choices from a very young age.

  2. It’s amazingly liberating when we realise how what we thought we couldn’t live without was the exact thing that was stopping us from moving onto the next stage, and finally are able to let go.

  3. “children are amazing, and we can learn so much from them” we can learn so much from children when they are pulled-up and accept and appreciate that they are being supported with love to take the next step.

  4. It is up to all of us…that’s what I got from this. We are all in this together and we can support each other to evolve, let go and appreciate.

  5. “children are amazing, and we can learn so much from them”. An absolute yes in agreement with these words. Unfortunately, though the majority of adults think they are simply empty vessels which need filling up with ‘adult wisdom’, which is often anything but wise, instead a package of worn out beliefs passed on down to them plus their own unhealed hurts. I love how your grandson was actually ready for this change in his life and how it was the love and the steadiness from those around him which supported him to take that next step.

  6. We learn and think that letting go of a behaviour / addiction is a long process. So maybe it is a long process because we do not want to let go? And you give a great example that with some support we can let go, and quite easily so.

  7. His father must have been very solid within himself to know that such an act was actually what the child needed. I guess this is what makes the best parents; those that are connected to and willing to follow what they feel deep within

  8. We can either hold our children in the knowing of who they are which supports them or see their behaviours as who they are hence supporting what is not truly them. We can learn so much from children especially how we are with ourselves. If we want to keep something that does not offer us evolution or growth then we may be reluctant to see when our children are ready to let something go.

  9. Your comment Anne that we can use anything for addiction… Even a piece of plastic, is so true, once we start to clock this, to be aware, we will see addiction everywhere

  10. It is so true that love is not what we often think it is. Such a huge amount of harm is done in the false name of love and yet love cannot harm.

    1. Very true there is a great freedom in letting go because it never serves us to hold onto anything.

  11. This is a great example of how when we are in our authority with another, they can feel the truth and love in what we are expressing.

  12. I really loved reading this Anne, and fully second the moving away from the ‘helicopter parenting’ to one that is firm in its love and consistency, for the other way only leads to entitlement and manipulation, in my experience. “And knowing that we are dependent on it creates a contraction, and a sense of unease in us, for if we depend on it, what on earth are we going to do without it?” – This sentence describes the vicious loop we can get in by searching for something to numb or suppress that tension we feel when we are not being ourselves, then feeling the unsettlement after going to the numbing behaviour (whether it be food, drink, or a hobby, over-work, etc.) and thus going back to another behaviour to not feel that one! But what this young boy shows us all is that we can literally throw that way in the bin and the whole thing is a trick to keep us from feeling how amazing we are and how we don’t need any ‘props’ in life.

  13. I am wondering Anne that by your grandson throwing multiple dummies to the ground and knowing the repercussions that they would go into the bin he was actually building up to let go of needing his dummies anymore. His father wisely realised this and supported him in that transition. After all, we all need support during times of change.

  14. This is a great lesson in consequences and the fact that one of the truest forms of love can be through discipline, in the sense of having a relationship with a child that is based on honesty and absoluteness. E.g., knowing that this behaviour has x consequence, not adding frills or playing games, with the intention of supporting the child to understand fully their responsibility and how they can be all of who they are as they grow up!

  15. ” His father calmly stood up, picked up the dummy and placed it in the bin. His mother and I gasped. His grandfather stood firm. ”
    Its so important for kids , that expressed consequences of ones actions are fulfilled, this is a life lesson on responsibility.

    1. I so very much agree with you John, otherwise we learn that words are just empty and that we can get away with our behaviour.

  16. I’m sure children feel the sense of trust we have in them to find their way through emotional dilemmas to uncover the solidness within when we let them be with what they are going through. If we try to intervene and not allow them the space to feel uncomfortable they may not learn what’s truly within.

  17. Love is strong and stands firm, holding the absoluteness of truth. It is through this foundation that we are raised and pulled up to be all that we are here to naturally be. I love what you share here Anne ‘I love that life is a cycle, how everything comes around, how we are all in this together, and how we are all growing and evolving, back to the oneness we are from.’ – as it is only through love that our true potential is realised and lived.

  18. And I love your blog Anne, as the lessons you share are so valuable and important. Having just read a blog on the importance of valuing our elders, this blogs shows exactly the deep wisdom that can be shared by a grandmother.

  19. “He had just let it go” – Kids are extraordinarily wise, and they can know exactly when it’s time to let things go and move on. Sometimes it’s our own interference that causes confusion or leads them away from what they know is true.

    1. So true Susie, and also our own issue with repercussions when we choose something. Children can feel our unease or issue with them/ourselves growing and evolving and they can either go along with it or stay with themselves and let go of what does not belong.

  20. Fabulous article Anne. What struck me the most was the dummies, which one would think give some comfort to a child, actually create the unease that has to arise when we think we need anything. This leaves us feeling less and in the constant chase to feel more.

  21. Some great lessons here indeed Anne – we have such a strong reflection of kids who are so aware of their bodies. They communicate with us in full and rarely hide where they are at. It is by reading and connecting with this communication that we can support them and learn from them.

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