Friday, September 2, 2011

The Tissa Fairy

Dear Finny,

How are you? I wanted to let you know that I will be coming to your house very soon to collect your Tissas. I know some babies who could use them and I am so glad you will have some to give. Don’t worry, your blankie and your teddy will keep you warm and snuggly, and I have a very special gift to leave with you!
On Friday night, before you go to bed, please leave all of your Tissas in a box in your mailbox. When you wake up in the morning, you will find a special surprise!

Thanks, Finny!

The Tissa Fairy

This is the letter Finny received in the mail this past Monday. I read it to him with great flair and gusto at the kitchen table after his post-nap snack. He immediately ran into the family room and flung himself on the rug like a 1940’s starlet and burst into tears. “I don’t want the Tissa Fairy to come and take my Tissas!”

Then, he came running back to me looking for comfort. “Mommy, hold me! Wipe these tears off my face!” I wiped and wiped. “Mommy, they’re still coming! Now, wipe these tears off my face!”

We’ve been talking about The Tissa Fairy for a few months now, talking about other friends who have safely left their Tissas with The Tissa Fairy and how exciting it was, but little Finny doesn’t quite know what to make of all this excitement over giving his Tissas away. Why on earth should he be excited about giving up the very thing he adores most in this world? He can’t imagine that there is any gift The Tissa Fairy could leave him that could replace his dear old Tissa. And the truth is, I’ve spoken with The Tissa Fairy, and she’s struggling to come up with anything too.

She’s already purchased a Spiderman action figure, but that was a few months ago. Now, he’s kind of more into Superman, but he’s not even really that into Superman. He’s unpredictable on what he will choose to fixate on: a purple tea cup, a wind-up bath turtle, Jane’s Buzz Light Year binoculars, Charlie’s bee. All of these things have captured his attention at some point and he has clung to them for a number of days without letting go. But, Tissa? Barring those first couple weeks when pacifiers are a no-no for breastfed babies, Finny’s had Tissa his WHOLE LIFE.

Finny doesn’t know a world without Tissa, and frankly, neither do I. I feign enthusiasm about The Tissa Fairy for Finny’s sake, but underneath this tough exterior, I’m crying too. Finny has always been a great sleeper, and in large part, that’s been due to his personal sleep specialist, Tissa. The kid’s been known to take five-hour-naps at certain points in his life and still sleep a solid eleven hours at night. Now, at almost three years old, he still has a good three-hour nap going on and a solid twelve-hour night sleep. When The Tissa Fairy comes to take his Tissas, is she going to take all that precious slumber with her as well?

The Tissa Fairy tried to visit once before at around eighteen months. I told Finny she was coming to take his Tissa and give it to babies who needed it. She came—somewhat foolishly—at nap time. The four-hour-napper screamed at the edge of his crib for two hours straight until I finally took mercy and went in to get him. I showed him the toy train she had left for him, and he blinked at it sleepily through the dark bags under his napless eyes. That night, The Tissa Fairy returned Finny’s Tissa. “Sorry,” she said, “I goofed. I guess at eighteen months, you are, in fact, still a baby.”

Now that Finny is much older and wiser, at the ripe old age of nearly three, he is still not buying this “babies need your Tissa” crap. A few days ago he ripped his sixteen-month-old cousin Allie’s popsicle right out of her hands and began chomping on it, and Finny can be clear across the house and sense when I’ve given a single solitary chew toy to poor, helpless Charlie stranded on the rug. He’ll drop whatever he’s doing, whatever tea cup or rubber ducky he’s playing with, and immediately bolt across the house to take the toy right out of Charlie’s hands. So, when it comes to Tissa, you’re not gonna find this kid having any kind of sympathy for all the poor Tissa-less babies out there. Quote: “The babies DO NOT need MY Tissas!” Endquote.

Finny’s been dealing with this looming day in his own way all week. I’ll catch him thinking about it periodically, not quite sure how to feel about it. On Monday night, he sat down to “read” a book to himself and I heard him begin, as if reading it on the page, “The Tissa Fairy is coming to take my Tissas…” Then, last night, his official last night with Tissa, he cried out in his sleep at about 1 a.m. When I went running in, I asked him what was wrong? Did he have wet pants? “No,” he said sleepily, “I lost my Tissa…but I found her.” And he promptly closed his eyes and went back to sleep.

But, what about tonight? Tonight’s the night. What happens when for the first time in three years he has to go to sleep without her? What happens when he wakes up in the night and remembers that she’s gone…for good? What happens tomorrow to my three-hour napper? And the next day? Does he know how to sleep without her? Other parents have told me that they worried and stressed about taking the pacifier, but once they did, it was not a big deal. The kid got over it fast. Somehow I don’t think that will be the case here. Finny and his Tissa are like David and his hairdresser, Babs—they love each other…a little too much.

So, if I’m so worried about losing sleep, which is already in short supply around here, why take the Tissas now? Our pediatrician actually said he could have it at night until he’s four. So, why tonight? Well, for starters, it’s affecting his bite. He has the classic pacifier mouth open bite that I hope will go away if Tissa goes away now. And secondly, because, it’s just time. He’s almost three. He’s a big boy now. He sleeps in a big boy bed, drinks from a big boy cup (sometimes), goes potty on a big boy potty, and is about to start preschool. It’s time for Tissa to go.

At least, this is what I tell myself…tough talk to choke back the tears. Because Tissa is more than just a pacifier. She’s the last of it. The last sign of babyhood for my first baby. Which is probably why that old fairy is struggling so much to come up with a suitable present to leave in her place.

Tissa is a symbol of my baby Finny, my firstborn, my snuggly, little duckmouth…and really, what can possibly replace that?

Well, I guess Charlie. Yeah, you’re right, no big deal. I’ve got another one.

Bring it on, Tissa Fairy.

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