My five-year-old has a true love. She will do anything for her love. She’s proven this over and over again. Her love is her thumb. And I feel rather like a Montague trying to get my child to break up with a Capulet. My daughter and her thumb are inseparable, despite my best efforts. She keeps sucking it even though she knows the consequences. She tells me she’ll get “horsey” teeth or that, “my teeth will grow too big,” if she doesn’t stop. But her history says I’m going to have any overly tough time getting her to quit.
When she was around six months old, she got a whistle stuck on her thumb. In the process of getting the whistle off, we accidentally tore the skin from her thumb. I put a band-aid on it; she sucked it right off. I put gauze on it and wrapped it in tape. She sucked right through that, too. I finally put a sock over the entire hand. I ended up changing a spit soaked sock, tape and gauze every few hours for a week.
The dentist told me recently it really was time to break her of the habit. So, when my friend offered me a bottle of Mavala Stop that had worked for her two girls, I snatched it up and set about my reformation plan. Simply paint her nails every two days and the horrible taste would keep her from ever wanting to stick her thumb in her mouth again. Yeah. If only.
I painted it on for the first time. After it had dried, I told her to put it in her mouth to see how gross it would be. “Yuck! That tastes like sanitizer!” I don’t really want to know how she knows what sanitizer tastes like, but I digress. Confident that her thumb sucking days were over, I went about my business.
Later on that day, I found her contentedly sucking her thumb while watching TV.
“(Five-year-old)!” I exclaimed, “doesn’t your thumb taste bad?”
“Well, it did,” she said, “but I just kept sucking until the bad taste went away and now it tastes great just like my thumb always tastes.”
“Honey,” I said, “the bad taste is supposed to remind you to stop, not make you keep sucking until it is gone!”
“But, Mommy!” she replied, “I just love it so much! I can’t stop sucking my thumb.”
I kept painting her nail for a few days but then decided that much alcohol couldn’t be good for a five-year-old’s diet, so I stopped the Stop. Besides, in the face of that much devotion and loyalty, I think I’m sunk. Her cousin had to have a spike to get her to stop. I guess we’re headed the same way. Though my five-year-old might just decide pricking her thumb is worth it. If a sock or coating it with formaldehyde didn’t do it, what’s a little blood and pain? I may never separate my five-year-old from her first true love.