A Smooth End to our Love-Hate Relationship

Not quite three years ago, we gave our eldest daughter what she would tell you today was the greatest gift a child could be given, a schmoosh. In your house this might be called a soother, a pacifier or a stupid piece of plastic your kid puts in their mouth and begs for all the damn time.

Not everyone uses them but those who do build a shockingly strong love/hate relationship with the schmoosh. Because children have far stronger vocal chords than should ever be allowed in something so tiny.

So in the beginning you give them the schmoosh and convince yourself that in a few days or a few weeks you’ll stop using it. You just need to get threw this one day and then you’ll throw it out. But, of course, your kid cries the next day too and you shove the schmoosh to them that day too. So you grow dependent and they grow dependent on it at the same time.

Nighttimes wouldn’t be nighttimes if schmoosh wasn’t invited into our sleep routine.

“Ok Leah, let’s go to the potty and then brush our teeth and then read a story and then close our eyes and go to sleep.”

“With schmoosh?”

“Well schmoosh isn’t a person so schmoosh can wait in your bedroom while we do all that stuff.”

“Schmoosh will be grumpy. And Sad. Schmoosh needs to go to the potty daddy and then wash his hands.”


“And brush his teeth.”

“Are we talking about the same thing? When you say schmoosh needs to brush his teeth you mean the yellow plastic things you suck on.”

“He’ll read you a story too.”

*Quietly to self: “This has to stop.”

One day you decide it really is time to get rid of the schmoosh because your child is two years old and even though you’ve managed to cut its usage down to sleep time only, they spend most of their day figuring out ways to feign tiredness so they can get their hands on that rubberized piece of evil.

“Daddy, I is tired, can I go to sleep?”

“You just had breakfast Leah, you woke up eighteen minutes ago.”

“I is soooo tired.” Fake yawn.

That put your foot down day will go terribly. For the first three minutes your cute little girl is all grown up, playing with Elmo and Grover like a grown-up and dancing around the kitchen to Christmas music. Then, out of nowhere, she’s punching her way through arms and legs and baby gates and stairs and ceilings, desperate to get to her room to get a suck of that sweet, disinfected rubber.

So, with arms, legs, eyes and pride all bruised, you give in and give it back to her. The schmoosh always won with us.

Well recently, our big girl threw her schmoosh into the bathroom garbage bin because she said it was dirty. This was not a removal method we had read about in books or heard about from friends but we decided to roll with it. We reminded her that if she threw it out, it would be gone for good. We did not remind her that she had thrown it out a number of times previously and that we had fished it out of the bin like George Costanza’s famous eclair and hidden it away for when we needed it again.

Of course, this time we fished it out again, but swore to ourselves to not be so hasty in returning it to her. Weeks later, she’s still without schmoosh and life has continued on. Long enough so that I feel comfortable laying this family friends to rest.

While we haven’t followed any particular “schmoosh removal” method, we have pretty consistently done a few things to keep her mind off of her sleep crutch:

  1. Positive reinforcement. Remind her constantly that schmooshes are for babies only and that she’s a big girl. This has sometimes resulted in Leah poking fun at her younger sister who still falls within schmoosh age range. We’ll deal with the teasing issue later on.
  2. Distraction. When she starts talking about how there’s no way she can sleep without a schmoosh, we start to talk about unicorns playing in a swimming pool with happy dinosaurs. She can go on for hours on this topic.
  3. Bribery. Nothing gets done in our house if there isn’t something dangling on a stick. I don’t mow the lawn without undercooked chocolate cookies waiting for me and Leah doesn’t pick up toys without the promise of more toys on the other end. The schmoosh is the same. Stay in bed quietly all night? There’s a marshmallow for that.

It’s a little sad to think of that little yellow guy not being around anymore. In fact, when Andrea gave me permission to throw it out, I refused. I’m not sure if it’s good parenting practice, or good human practice for that matter to use some form of schmoosh taxidermy to permanently preserve the thing that saved my life any time I was left other-parentless with my oldest daughter.

But, I suppose if I’m asking my daughter to do it, I’d best drop the soother act too.


Mike is an Ottawa born-and-raised husband and father of two. He’s obsessed with making sure his daughters says ‘daddy and mommy’ and not ‘mommy and daddy’ and with ensuring his daughters know they’re both one-of-a-kind.

  • TwoCents

    Thanks Mike. Going through the same thing with my two year-old right now, and simply can’t seem to convince her that “sassy” (aka schmoosh) is just for babies. We’ve been saving our bribery (aka marshmallows) for potty training, but it doesn’t even seem to work for that. Stubborn little girl. 🙂

  • Our twins were born when our son was 2 and a half so we didn’t start waging the battle until he was over 3. He never had it outside of his bed (thought for awhile he, honest to god, had 5 in his bed) but needed it to sleep. We tried all kinds of things and slowly managed to get him down to just one in his bed. We didn’t want to fight too hard and eventually he just said he was ready and gave it up. He was almost 4 but apparently, so was I when I gave mine up 😉

    • Mike Reynolds

      I was probably eight. Glad to hear you also had multiple schmooshes. I think we only got as high as four at one time though.

  • Mike Reynolds

    We’ve been lucky that we have an 8 month old to prove that the schmoosh is just for babies. Although for a while she just told us that hers, because it looked different, was a big girl schmoosh. We did the same marshmallow potty training treat trick. I guess something else that worked for us was waiting for the potty training to be fully entrenched before moving to the schmoosh. And, to be honest, if she hadn’t offered it up to us that one time, we might not have tried to get rid of it. Good luck.

  • Marie

    Oh thank you Mike for that good laugh. I needed it. The ‘suce’ as it was know in our house still sits in the memory box…sorry I kept it. Every once in a while when i crack open the box I show it to my now 13 year old and he laughs his head off…yeah you weren’t laughing back then buddy. I love to tell him the ‘suce’ stories…even as a teen he loves to hear them — “tell me again about the time you (fill in the blank). The soother is a milestone in our lives…i can only hope it will be easier with other equally important milestones in years to come.

    • Mike Reynolds

      They’re amazing things no matter what they’re called. Ours still sits untouched in our bathroom cabinet. Good idea on keeping it and showing it to her later. I fear even at 13 she’d take it back and get going on it again.

  • ashley

    it was “soos” around here…ODS had it for 9mths and then refused it…YDS never really took to it at all, only in the car…and even that was rare…by 6 mths I had gotten rid of them all….I know how lucky we were

  • sabsevy

    sometimes i wish my boys has a soother. how do you get rid of fingers??

  • Nicole

    I remember, before I had my kid, thinking, “I will never use a pacifier!” But I honestly am not sure I would have survived that first few months without it!