One of my earliest childhood memories is observing which kids in preschool still had pacifiers and which didn’t. I don’t remember if I ever brought my pacifier to school, but I do remember seeing other kids make fun of the kids who did. I made sure not to ever do it. That was one of my earliest memories of learning about shame and conformity. It was kind of cruel, but that’s what growing up is all about.
I have no idea what to make of the pacifier tree located at the Plymouth apartment complex (48th Street off 14th Avenue). On the one hand, it looks kinda cute to see all those innocent pacifiers hang off the tree like budding flowers. On the flip side, it might be kind of sad for children to walk by their favorite and most comforting accessory, well out of arm’s reach, day after day.
According to a report in the New York Times, the pacifier tree is a rite of passage for Borough Park youngsters. Rachel Rhine, who has a view of the tree from her apartment window, described the ritual first hand.
“I see mothers picking up their little kid and the kid actually puts it on and they say: ‘O.K., say goodbye, no more. You’re a big girl now,’” Ms. Rhine said. “It’s kind of a celebration to say, ‘That’s where it goes and that’s where it stays and that’s the end of it.’”
In countries like Denmark and Sweden, hanging pacifiers in trees has been a long standing practice. According to the Times, they hang thousands of pacifiers off single trees, nearly causing the branches to break.
Apparently, the tradition started in Borough Park when a former superintendent of the Plymouth just started hanging up all the pacifiers that kids would throw out of their carriages. Unless he was a Dane or a Swede, I guess he started hanging them up for parents to collect or maybe he was just being weird. Either way, the pacifier tree is here to stay and will now likely become another annoying Brooklyn trend once someone in Park Slope sees it and says, “Like, yah, cool art, man.”