I have a confession to make. My three year old still drinks out of a baby bottle. Every night. And every morning. And whenever else I need him to be quiet. I know. I KNOW! It’s bad for his teeth. It’s bad overall. There is nothing in any literature anywhere expressing the point of view that this is a good thing. It is not a good thing. I wish he did not do this. And it is my own fault that he does it, because I am selfish and lazy.
I mean, look, I am the parent here. If I wanted to throw away all of the baby bottles in the house (and believe me, I have considered it many times), I could. It would be easy. And eventually, he would get over it and be a normal person. But for that period between me tossing the bottles and him adjusting, there would be weeks (months?) of no sleeping. Of angry, cranky children and angrier, crankier parents. A time of difficult transition.
You see, he will not go to sleep without his “bubba.” We have purchased transitional sippy cups, with soft, nippley tops. We have tried to get him to use his sister’s “bubba” cups, that she doesn’t really use anymore. He won’t even take a sip, but rather throws them across the room and cries until he gets what he wants. And since what Mom and Dad want is a peaceful evening and a good night’s sleep, he gets it.
And it isn’t just that he can’t sleep without his bottle, but oh how easily he falls asleep with one. He doesn’t nap anymore, but if he is getting grumpy in the afternoon and I put him on the couch with a bottle, he is out like a light in minutes. No bottle: no nap: no exceptions. So my lazy, selfish, looking-for-the-easiest-path self is very happy to take advantage of this parenting shortcut, even knowing that his poor little teeth are covered with milk and rotting away while he sleeps, and the nipple is probably yanking all of his teeth forward and out of his mouth every time he sucks on it.
I keep waiting for the dentist to tell us he is having teeth problems, so I can finally have that concrete excuse to chuck them all, as if I need an authority higher than myself to get my children to do things. But every dentist visit we are told what great teeth he has, no problems, and no severe bottle damage. Dang it, excellent genes!
Well, I want to let you know that I am ending this. He starts pre-school in a few weeks, and I am not sending my kid to pre-school packing a baby bottle. Where knowledge and personal responsibility have failed, pubic shame has come through. Yesterday, I told him that all of his bottle were dirty and asked him if he wanted to borrow one of his sister’s. He said yes. He took one or two sips and that’s it, but it was a huge step in the right direction. And he fell asleep!
This morning I tried the same tactic, and he once again said that he would borrow his sister’s bubba, but when I gave it to him he threw it across the room angrily and said he would not drink it. So I told him that was fine, and that I would just give it back to his sister and she could drink it. I have never seen him drink anything so fast. Why have I not thought of this before?!
I know it doesn’t remove the last two years of bad parenting, but we are making progress, and that’s all we can really hope for at this point. And if I have to spend a few nights listening to him scream in his bed, well, I’ve done it before. I can do it again. Pray for me.