Tiny Coconut

I have things.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

All Thumbs

[Before I even start, I have to say how sad it is that I have to worry about altering the word s u c k throughou this entry so that ugly, yucky people don't come flocking to my site. Sigh.)

I was 13 when I finally stopped s*cking my thumb. That's not a typo, folks. 13. (And yes, in fact, I *can* say orally fixated, thank you very much.) At my junior high school parent conferences, my science teacher had mentioned to my mother that he'd noticed me s*cking my thumb somewhat absentmindedly whenever I had to concentrate hard during class. He said it amused him that for whatever reason, the other kids didn't tease me about it, but that some day they would, and she should stop me before that happened. So that evening, my mother put forth a deal: She would buy me the pair of $70 boots I was coveting (this was 1977, she had just married my stepfather, and money was still a bit tight, so this was a BIG deal), if I didn't s*ck my thumb for six months. I stopped that night, she bought the boots, everyone was happy.

It surprised me, since I had been such a devoted thumb-s*cker, that neither of my kids developed the habit as babies. Or, at least, neither of them had...until now.

The past few nights, N has been s*cking his thumb at bedtime. He's a few months past his third birthday. I talked to his favorite favorite preschool teacher today, and she said that there is one dedicated thumb-s*cker in the class, and that yes, she had noticed that N was starting to do that at nap time, but no, she couldn't think of any other big changes in him over the past couple of weeks, aside from the fact that he's growing more and more comfortable there--talking more, playing all the time, happy and smiling rather than sort of staying to himself much of the time.

So now of course I'm wondering where this is coming from. I'm totally disinclined to make a big deal out of it, since he's braces-bound no matter what (he's a little, tiny guy with bigger-than-normal baby teeth...there's no chance at all that he'll escape orthodonture as a bigger tiny guy), and because I know that breaking a habit like that is really hard to do until the kid is motivated to do it himself. But on the other hand, I'm concerned that this new 'habit' has a deeper meaning, and that if I continue to be laissez faire mama, I'm going to be missing an opportunity to intervene in some larger emotional issue.

My bet is that I'm dealing with nothing more than a little boy who recently had his favorite soother taken away from him--his many, many, many sipppie cups of Ovaltine-and-milk--because it was likely causing his constipation. My bet is that he's just replacing that with his thumb, especially at bedtimes, because he's simply not getting his s*cking quota met during the day. But what if my bet is off? What if I'm missing some big nasty thing that this is instead a sign of?

Yes, I am a big one for borrowing trouble. Why do you ask?

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