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Sunday, June 10, 2012

This One's Gonna Be Hard

Neither of my girls were thumb suckers.  And I wasn't a big paci supporter.

But I should have been.

At a few months old, my Littlest Girl found her two middle fingers.  And thus began a love affair that could last through the ages.

I don't really have a problem with her sucking on her fingers.  Until she loses a tooth.  Then she will have to stop.  When she came to this realization, she would periodically say, "I'm getting to be a big girl.  But I'm not going to lose my tooth until I'm bigger."  She blurts this out every few days, especially after a nap or close to bedtime.

The rule we've always had is that she can suck them in bed, on her way to sleep.  Not in the car, not when she's watching TV, not when she's bored.  ONLY when she's sleeping.
She's good with the rules.  Except when she has been sent to time out.  On her bed.  Then, invariably, I go up to reconcile with her, and her fingers are in her mouth, baby doll tucked close to her.

So a few days ago, I gave her an ultimatum.  The next time I catch her with her fingers in her mouth during a time out, will be the last time she will be allowed to do it.  We will start the weaning then.  It will be her choice. I told her. I repeated it.  I had her repeat it.  I reminded her the next morning.  (Her long-term memory is not one of her strong suits.)  And I let it go.

Yesterday, she was having a bad day, and was sent to time out.  I didn't remind her.  She's 5 1/2.  I don't think I need to remind her every time.  But when I went up, I heard a slurping sound, and I saw her hurriedly hiding her hand behind her baby.  And inside I grieved.  And I rejoiced.  I grieved because she hadn't obeyed.  And this will be a long, hard journey for her.  I rejoiced because as everyone knows, it's a gross habit.  I'm not fond of stinky fingers waving through the air at breakfast after a long night of being saturated with spit.  Also, her fingers are severely calloused and her nails are very damaged.

I reminded her that she would no longer be sucking her fingers.  Ever.  And I told her I would tape them that night so that she wouldn't be tempted.  She cried.  Tortuously.  For over 15 minutes.  We heard the desperation in her cries and even my husband was sympathetic to her anguish.

So last night the inaugural taping commenced.  It didn't go as bad as I thought it would.  And she slept fine.  Today I taped them for nap time.  She asked me to lay down with her and I did, wanting to see how she was holding up without her favorite refuge.  She was asleep in less than five minutes.

I don't know how long I will have to tape fingers.  I'm afraid the minute I stop taping, she will assume the punishment is over and she can go back to popping them in her mouth.  She's stubborn that way.  The way we all are when a beloved habit is interrupted.  I can only hope I have enough tape, and enough patience, to do this as long as needed.

 In the end she will be better for it.  But in the end I will have lost the last vestiges of her babyhood.  And I will be happy.  And I will be sad.  And I will look forward to the next phase of her life, while holding on for dear life to the memories of her earlier one.  And I guess that's how this parenting thing goes.

1 comment:

  1. Oh my, the moments. Goals worth pursuing - but never easy.

    Oh, and the pics in this post were awesome. She's getting so big, and that grin in the last one is awesome!