Suri Cruise’s Pacifier and the Ultimate Bribe
When photos surfaced this week of almost-5-year-old Suri Cruise out and about with a pacifier in her mouth, some on the media wasted no time wagging their virtual fingers at her rich and famous parents, Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise. I, of course, am above such judgmental behavior. Or more accurately, I feel for them rather than judge them. We parents all know how difficult it can be to negotiate such things with our kids, and how often we find ourselves making compromises—or making peace—with things we wish we didn’t have to accept.
That said, I am not above offering some friendly advice to Katie and Tom, because really, guys, it is time to pull the plug on the binky. From my own experience, I can say definitively that bribery works. You just need to hit on the right bribe. Perhaps young Suri is so pampered that there is nothing they can dangle as a goodbye-pacifier prize, but surely there is some reward they can conjure up for the little one.
Our daughter Adira, for all her attempts to be fully self-sufficient and grown up, was still addicted to her pacifier at 3-and-a-half years old. With a new baby (and therefore new pacifiers and older-sibling regression) on the way, we felt urgency to get her to give it up, but no amount of reasoning, encouraging, discussing, cajoling, and even bribing was working. She was thrilled at the idea of having a party and getting a coveted new scooter when she gave up her beloved pacifiers, but not thrilled enough to actually take the plunge. We were at a standstill.
Then my wife, in a stroke of brilliance, hit on the ultimate incentive. Give up the pacifier, and you can have nail polish. Hearing that, Adira practically spat the thing out. In reality, it was a couple of days, but one day she announced that her pacifiers were in the garbage. Sensing a ruse, I checked skeptically, but there they were. Then she informed me that she couldn’t find her most-beloved pacifier, the pink one. Ah, I thought. This is her loophole, her way out. But we found pinky, and Adira enthusiastically tossed it. I made a big show of removing the garbage bag and taking it away, and still no freak out.
Adira never looked back in a serious way, and her painted nails looked fabulous, of course. A couple of times during the next few weeks, she asked for them when she was tired, but gave up quickly when we said no. A few times, realizing the futility of requesting her pacifiers, she said she wanted “something pink to suck on,” but again dropped the idea when we reminded her she’d given all that up for the pink on her fingertips. She even once offered to give up her nail polish, but again backed off as soon as tried to talk her out of it.
Even today, with pacifiers everywhere around the house for the baby, Adira hasn’t asked for one or tried to use one. So, Katie and Tom, what’s your bribe for Suri?