Everyone enjoys a good love story, right? I have one to share — a heartwarming tale of a girl and her Bite.
The girl is my 18-month-old daughter, Phoebe, and “Bite” is what she calls her pacifier.
The story begins the way many pacifier stories do: in a hospital room, in the early hours of Phoebe’s life, in the middle of a dark desperate night. I removed the pacifier from the package, washed it in the sink and presented it to our new baby while reciting the standard pacifier prayer.
“Please, screaming newborn, take this pacifier. Like it enough that I can stay sane, but not so much that I have to pry it from your shaking fists on the first day of kindergarten. Amen.”
Like her sisters before her, Phoebe’s early friendship with her pacifier was one of convenience. She enjoyed its company when she was sleeping, but was generally indifferent toward it during the day. This level of comfortable amicability continued on until shortly after her first birthday.
What happened next was akin to that familiar and pivotal scene from many romantic comedies, when the nerdy, reliable friend is suddenly — by way of heroism, a makeover or simple plot progression — revealed to be “The One.”
One day, seemingly out of the blue, Phoebe saw her pacifier in a new way.
It went from an occasional pal to a near-constant companion. She dubbed it “My Bite,” realizing the importance of being on a first-name basis with someone, or something, you spend an inordinate amount of time with.
At home, Phoebe’s Bite is always in her mouth or in her hand. If she needs the use of both hands, she’ll find a trustworthy adult to hold it for her, with the unspoken agreement that she’ll want it back in the very near future. She doesn’t bring her Bite to daycare, but the second she arrives home, their reunion is alarmingly joyful.
When her Bites are gathered together in one place, she’ll survey her collection with pride and carefully choose one, like a classic car enthusiast deciding which Mustang convertible to take to the auto show.
For the time being, Matt and I have chosen to view Phoebe’s relationship with her Bite as a fling — an amusing and temporary infatuation. Most kids choose a security blanket of some sort, whether it’s a bear, a bellybutton (in Grace’s case) or a Bite.
I know there will be a point, in the not-so-distant future, when she’ll have to move on — for reasons both social and orthodontic. I hope it’s less of a forced breakup and more a conscious uncoupling. We’ll see.
But for now, enjoy your Bite, Phoebe. Revel in your time together. And should you grow tired of the blue one, the red one is in my pocket.
Catherine Kraemer writes twice a month for Momaha.com. She and her husband, Matt, are the parents of three young girls – Emilia, 6, Grace, 3 and Phoebe, 1. Originally from St. Louis, Catherine lives in Omaha and works at a local advertising agency.