In the past two months, The Caterpillar has gone from a diaper wearing, crib sleeping, pacifier needing baby to a potty trained big girl who sleeps in a bed. It's astounding, sometimes, how kids go along being kids and then suddenly make progress all at once. It's like I can see her growing. I'll go to work in the morning and come home to a kid with a whole different vocabulary at night.

Looking back over my archives, it looks like we she started potty training back in September. I'm pretty sure I ignored her efforts for about three months before she proved that she was really serious about it. Then there were successes and setbacks, with a solid regression after good progress that baffled and frustrated us all. But despite that, I'd say she was pretty solidly wearing "biggurl underwear" by the middle of May. So despite what seemed to me to be a lifetime, a long, arduous lifetime, I guess it really only took about five to eight months. That seems like nothing now. It is so weird how when you're a parent, the days drag by endlessly, yet the months fly.

The crib thing was pretty easy. She was highly motivated to sleep in her "biggurl bed." My problem was that I got greedy and I attached the biggurl bed thing as another reward for giving up the bop.

I've always hated pacifiers. I resisted them with a self-righteous vengeance at first. But when I was pregnant with The Dormouse, I was editing a book on premature infants and as I took in the text, I started to see that there are certain benefits to non-nutritive sucking too. This helped me to lighten my attitude about the pacifier somewhat. Still, when The Dormouse was an infant, I tried to avoid pacifiers as much as possible. Eventually, however, giving her a pacifier seemed to be a cue for her to go to sleep and in my own sleep deprived state, any cue that actually worked was a good cue. So we used a pacifier with her at night- or nap-time only.

I'd planned to get her off the pacifier before she was three. Then there was this one night when she was about two and a half when she wanted a green pacifier and we couldn't find the green pacifier and she threw a Gigantic Fit. And a little voice inside my head said, "This is a child who is old enough to not only point out the colors of the bops but communicate a bop color preference. I think maybe it's time to give up the bop."

At first The KoH tried the Supernanny's Paci-fairy trick: "There are other little babies who need bops. Can you give your bops to the other babies so they can have some?"


So much for Supernanny.

In the end, I resorted to bribery. I told her that we'd make a chart and if she slept without a bop each night she could get a sticker on her chart. Then at the end of the week, if she had a sticker for every day, we could go to the toy store and buy something special. What special something would she like to get? That was all The Dormouse needed and seven short days after my first little seed of a thought, we had a chart full of stickers and were at the toy store picking out a "pink doll house" which ended up being not pink or a doll house, but whatever, we had accomplished this great thing and I was brilliant for thinking it up. That was the Thing with The Dormouse. You just told her to do something and she generally did it.

The Caterpillar is her own person.

Not only weren't the stickers and the prize enough motivation for her, but even getting to sleep in the biggurl bed almost wasn't enough either. Sure she went along with it the first night without complaint. But by the second night it was old hat and she wanted the bop more than she wanted a sticker or a toy or to sleep outside of the crib. We'd have a night or two of success and then go through a couple of nights where she'd prefer to go sleep in the crib again because the sexy allure of a pacifier was just too strong and she's much more an immediate gratification girl. Thanks, Daddy's Genes. I made her throw out the chart and start again each time that happened because our deal was seven consecutive nights.

It was quite a bit more painful than our experience with The Dormouse. Partially due to the fact that we started this whole endeavor over our July 4th excursion and there was that one night that we didn't have a bop in the car anymore and she chose to scream in the car The. Entire. Way. Home. after the fireworks rather than just fall asleep in the car with no external motivation like everyone else did.

But finally, thankfully, she did it.

(Please to ignore the fact that these are High School Musical character stickers. I told her that they were people who were jumping for joy because they were so proud of her for being a big girl and she went with it. Let's not crush her dreams, shall we?)

And it seems to have stuck. The Pink Princess Electronic Cash Register (Oy!) she picked out at the "play store" didn't hurt any either. We got rid of the crib last week, so there's no going back.

So now I have a diaperless, bopless, child who sleeps in a big girl bed. I should be thrilled, right? I don't have a baby anymore.

Why do I want to weep for her lost innocence?