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

604 thoughts on “The Dummy

  1. Thank you Anne as much can be learnt from children when we apply a Loving dedication and be firm from a lived way that we adhere to, because if we do not claim and live to the same stand that we have show towards the young then they feel the discrepancy as not being our Livingness because they cannot feel the love of an action as it would not exist, but when things are lived that level of love ❤️ is felt.

  2. The addiction aspect that you talk about Anne is a very real thing and I love how you have simplified it and shown that this can happen to anything or anyone – the moment we create a dependency on something then we have given our power away and are not allowing our natural growth and expansion to happen – in effect we cap ourselves. What a gift to be supported by another to see this addiction and then to heal it.

  3. “Love is not what we think it is” – this is a classic case of us thinking the loving thing might be to ensure the child has the dummy, but in fact what was asked for was delivered and the dummy was disposed of. Some might find this hard to understand whilst others can then see the growth offered whilst being held with love. This to me is beautiful and though it may appear a little hard to go through if we focus on what happens in that moment rather than allowing ourselves to feel and see the bigger picture, on the long run it is for the better of all.

  4. Anne, I have just read this blog again and have to say there certainly are some pertinent lessons for us all to draw upon. Children do not cease to amaze us in so many ways and this is just one example of many for us as adults to learn from. Thank you again for your sharing.

  5. This is a beautiful story and piece of writing Anne, full of love and wisdom, whilst, ‘Holding another in the love that we are and allowing them to feel that they too are that love.’

  6. A beautiful lesson in parenting. Letting go of the dummy, which impedes expression, and the communication is flowing and clear.

  7. “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.” What you have shared here is the basis for all relationships, allowing people (of any age) the space to learn, and to hold ourselves and each other as the same equal love.

  8. The power of letting things go and not being attached so we can see clearly see what has been the impedance that has been holding us back from evolving is so real as you have shared Anne.

    1. What a beautiful example of how easily your grandson let go, ‘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.’

  9. Our children are so inspiring and we can learn so much from them if we only but choose to be open to what they have to show us.

    1. Firm but loving boundaries teach us so much – and understanding how the consequences are related is another great support for growth.

    1. Cycles indeed – life is full of cycles each representing an opportunity for more growth.

  10. 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.

  11. We sometimes pander to children when actually they are ready to move on and it is our pandering that caps their progress.

    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. Absolutely, children are wise, and know what they are doing, equally, ‘children are amazing, and we can learn so much from them.’

  12. 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.

  13. “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.

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