I’ve been hanging around other women and moms and reading blogs for long enough to know that there are people talking smack behind my back because my four-year-old daughter still sucks her thumb. I see those looks I get as we walk through the grocery store and library, Ella’s thumb plopped securely in her mouth. This is where I get all defensive and tell you that I sucked my thumb until I was eight years old and turned out just fine with the exception of a slightly skinnier left thumb. So there.
Maybe I should be more concerned? I mean, I am concerned about how filthy her thumb can be and I worry she’ll get sick from the germs. I am less concerned about the fact that she’s four and sucks her thumb.
The children’s dentist is concerned enough for the both of us. Which really? Is a RELIEF. Thank goodness he can muster some concern where I’m clearly lacking any. He discusses at length the importance of her quitting her thumb sucking at each 6 month visit. “Yes,” I smile and nod politely, “Yes. She does need to stop sucking her thumb.” Noncommittal. “Yes I have seen how her teeth are coming in at an angle.”
I haven’t told him that when I’ve asked Ella why she sucks her thumb, she’s told me, “Because it’s my favorite.” Her thumb is a source of comfort, she sucks it when she’s tired or sick. Of course, though, she also sucks it when she’s not tired or sick.
Dr. Dentist once suggested that I use hot sauce to discourage her thumb sucking. No, I didn’t punch him in response, but I did shoot daggers out of my eyes at him. Now I just get stern lectures. He gets smiles and nods.
This is not to say that I encourage her to suck her thumb. In fact, I may or may not have lectured Ella on the topic of Stopping Thumb Sucking. She is less than receptive to my suggestions, typically sucking her thumb even harder. “It just tastes really good, Mommy.” My husband and I have discussed ways to help her break the habit, but none of our ideas have been successful. Currently Ella is not supposed to suck her thumb anywhere except at home or in the car. Currently Ella sucks her thumb whenever and where ever she feels like it.
I guess prescribed timelines for these types of things, depending on the milestone, are just something that I have a hard time getting too worked up or concerned about. I won’t lie and say that potty training didn’t frustrate me, HOO BOY DID IT EVER, but I will say that I wasn’t concerned about it never happening. My mantra for these types of things is this: I doubt they’ll leave for college, still pooping in a diaper, still having to be rocked to sleep, still drinking out of the dog’s water bowl.
I doubt (hope, pray, fear) she’ll leave for college still sucking her thumb.