Monday, February 24, 2014

Anna the Addict

We’ve referred to Anna as a “pusher” for awhile now. Not like the mean-girl-on-the-playground kind of pusher. She’s more like the scary-drug-dealer-in-a-dark-alley kind of pusher.

(Ok, in defense of drug dealers everywhere, I’ve never actually been approached by a scary guy in a back alley trying to sell me drugs. Though alleys aren’t my usual hang out. Mean girls on the playground, though – well, they’re just mean.)

Anyway, Anna the Pusher. What does she push? Nuks. They’re her two-year-old drug of choice. Girl’s an addict.

Anna the Addict has been a pusher since she mastered the dexterity needed to put a Nuk into Elin’s mouth. She was probably 8- or 9-months old. They’d be crawling around, playing, and the next thing we’d see was Anna forcing a Nuk on Elin, who never has been a huge fan of her pacifier. Elin would try to wriggle her head around in self-defense, but Anna’s a pretty determined little human. If we weren’t quick to intervene, Anna always won.

When Anna learned to talk, she started to verbally offer Elin a Nuk. Repeatedly. Elin would say, “No Nuk, Ah-na.” and Anna would get so frustrated she would start to cry, “Pleeeease Anna, pleeeease Nuk.” (Remember, Anna calls Elin Anna.) She was also always pushing a Nuk on her friend, Adi, and the first time she met her little buddy Bennett, she made sure he was Nuk'd, too. Then Tess came along and became Anna’s new target. Actually, in some ways it’s very sweet. Anna loves her Nuk - way more than Elin ever did - and I think it’s more of a loving gesture than anything else. She wants Elin and Tess to get the same pleasure and feelings of security out of it as she does. Sometimes, when Elin’s having a bad moment, breaking down in tears, I see Anna’s eyes get very sad and concerned and she’ll run off, returning with a Nuk to help comfort her sister.

Since the girls turned two, we've only let them have their nuks when they're sleeping. Looking back, I realize I should have cut Elin off completely at that point, because she seems more into it now than ever before. Lately, Justin and I have been talking about THE day...the day we take the Nuks. I think Elin will transition pretty smoothly...Anna, though. That's a different story.

Like a lot of things, I think this will be a little tricky with twins. Elin will probably cry for five minutes, give up and fall asleep. But I know Anna will put up a serious fight, which will keep Elin up, too. She's a spitfire, that Annaleise. A Nuk-addicted spitfire. 

I’ve never been a smoker, so I don’t know what it’s like to feel addicted, but when I see Annaleise with her Nuk every morning, I can’t help but think of someone desperately trying to get the last couple of drags off her cigarette.

Every morning I hear Anna wake up and start talking to herself. (Elin does the same thing – I love to eavesdrop on these conversations when I can. They sound so sweet when the day is fresh and they aren’t competing for our attention.) Anna will talk to herself for a good 5 -10 minutes before she gets a little louder and requests my presence. “Mom?! Mama! Mama, mama, mama,” she singsongs.

I enter her room and the same waves of emotion smack me in the face as the first day we brought her home. My girl. My baby. My Anna. It is one of the moments, each day, that I am so thankful for my daughters.

“Mama!” She’ll say with a big smile.

“Good morning, Annaleise! How did you sleep?”

“Ok.” She always says ok, no matter what. Sometimes it’s a whiny ok, sometimes a genuinely happy one. And, as she speaks, she always has her Nuk hanging out of the corner of her mouth like a smoky treat.

I turn off her air purifier (which we use more for the noise than actual air purifying) and go to her crib and look down at her.

We talk. She lies there on her giraffe pillow, looking up at me and usually saying something random like, “Dada, snow? Tess. Work? Charlie and Lola. Zipper. Eat. Anna? (Elin)?”  

“Yup, ok,” I reply. “Let’s go downstairs. Spit your Nuk out.”

This is one of the few moments during the day where she listens. She spits her Nuk out and stands up. I reach for her, and her eyes crinkle up in a smile as the moment ends, and she bends back down, scoops her Nuk up again and throws it back in her mouth for another 4 or 5 drags. And she is serious. Sometimes she even closes her eyes, relishing those last couple pulls before I cut her off until bedtime. 

"Anna, enough. Let's go. Spit it out."

"Ok, mama." She places it in the same spot every day, next to her pillow, where she knows it will be safe and sound until bedtime. I can't help but get a little sad knowing how heartbroken she will be the day we take it away, once and for all. 

She'll be all right, though. She's found some other things to "push" lately, like tangerines and a "choo-choo" book she's into. It will be nice when Nuks are just a distant memory for all of us...   


  1. I still remember breaking my now 32 year old from a Nuk...that's how traumatic it was! It was a rough couple of weeks, but we lived through it...but I still remember it! :) Great story!

    1. Weeks, Michele?! I was hoping it'd be a couple of nights tops!! Did you go cold turkey?

  2. Julie, this made me laugh so hard. My kids never took a nuk no matter what! I was the pusher and they just weren't having it, so I have no idea how to get rid of it, but I do know it is not easy. In all of our class we take that is always a hard one for parents. My friend finally cut her kid off at age 3 and they took the nuk to Build A Bear and put it in the bear and now he sleeps with that. She also told them that they had to collect all the nuks and send them to babies who need them. She put them in a big envelope and put them in a mailbox, ha! I guess it worked. I woudn't worry until she is a little older. I've never seen a kindergartner with a nuk ;)

    1. Oona, I like this "give them to the babies who need them" idea!! I think I will try that. Last night Elin was nuk free all night - she didn't even's really Anna that's going to be the issue!

  3. If it is any after her nap, Anna handed me the nuk and said, "here Gamma, take Nuk." So, no laying it in her crib and returning for a last drag. I said" thank you, that's right, it's time to set it free." I bet Anna showed you where I put it. Anna never forgets. :)

    1. Ha, ha, Mom. Yes! Anna's nuk was not in it's normal place and she pointed at the copper flower...I said, "Who put that there?" And she said, "Gamma!" Anna never forgets. :) She's like an elephant.