Whining about weaning
In the final weeks before Lucy was born, I had my choice of terrifying literature to read. I could choose the book about childbirth — a book that had many, many pictures. Or, I could skip ahead to the book about breast-feeding — a book that also had pictures.
Since nothing larger than milk ever passes through nipples, I naturally chose the book about lactation.
“OH MY GOD!” I said, when I flipped to the photos in the back.
There, I saw a startling image — a giant child sprawled across his mother’s lap, hanging from her breast. Because I had no idea how large toddlers could get, I figured the child had to be at least thirteen years old. He had a mullet, for crying out loud.
In reality, the kid was probably about two. Even so, I thought that was awfully strange. Any kid who was old enough to ask for a little drink was old enough to drink from a cup. And not an A-cup.
If there’s anything that parenthood teaches you, it’s to shut up. For every time you say, “I’ll never do that,” or “No child of mine will do this,” you will find your mouth so full from eating your words that you no longer even have the opportunity to speak.
Lucy is just a few months shy of being two years old, and every chance she gets, she leaps onto my lap, rips up my shirt, presses my neck back with her foot, and helps herself to a drink. If I’m standing therefore have no lap, she pinwheels down to the horizontal position and demands my nipple. Loudly.
Two things, and two things only, save me from embarrassment by my failure to wean her. The first is that, unlike the boy in the book, Lucy doesn’t have a mullet. The second is that no one within earshot knows that Lucy is the boss of my breasts — because Lucy thinks nipples are called mopples.
At first, I just thought Lucy was really thirsty. So, I bought ten sippy cups and made sure to always have one on hand. I have since learned that Lucy’s love of the mopple has little to do with thirst.
Lucy never adopted a favorite blanket. Nor has she singled out one of her stuffed animals for special love. Lucy’s comfort object is my mopples. When we go someplace new and she’s feeling insecure, she snakes her hand down my shirt and grabs.
What’s more, she’s very interested in other people’s mopples. My sister gave her a Barbie doll and the first thing Lucy did was rip the doll’s sweater off, grab her chest and say “mopples!” It amused us so much we’ve named the poor, sweaterless thing Miss Mopples.
Worse is what happened at the house of a friend who has a teenage daughter, a girl we’ve known since she was small, but is on now the rough and painful edge of being grown up.
“Mopples!” Lucy said, pointing at this dear girl’s shirt.
“What’s she saying?” the girl said. “Purple?”
“Yes, that’s exactly it,” I said, relieved. “Purple.” And then, purple myself, I changed the subject.
But it doesn’t stop here. Lucy and I went to see her cousin Katy perform the role of Real Rabbit Number Two in a play. Lucy, energized by the show, reached her hand down my shirt and bellowed, “FUNNY MOPPLES! FUNNY MOPPLES!”
It’s hard not to take that personally. Does she mean my mopples are comic? Or is she referring to their appearance or texture? I’m afraid to ask. And yet, she tells me that they’re funny every day now.
I’ve tried weaning Lucy. I’ve been trying since she turned one. It would be nice to have my body all to myself for awhile. But Lucy’s a total grouch in the morning until she has some mopple. Same goes when she’s waking up from a nap.
What I’ve read about weaning has been almost no help. “Try cutting back, a feeding at a time.” When you have a baby who got used to feeding 2,867 times a day, though, that means your best hope of being done with her will be shortly after her 18th birthday.
I’ve also tried reasoning with Lucy. “Big girls don’t drink mopple,” I say.
“Just a little mopple,” she replies, sweetly.
It’s a sad day when you realize your 21-month-old is a better negotiator than you are. But on the flip side, I will have the ultimate bartering chip when Lucy turns 16 and wants to take the car out for wild rides with her no-good friends.
“Lucy,” I’ll say, “You don’t want me to tell your friends about Miss Mopples, do you?Now that’s a funny mopple.