Thursday, August 2, 2012

Sweet T: 1; Momma: -2

My daughter's pacifier got "lost" when she was about 2 1/2. But no worries, she just picked up her thumb and had an instant (not to mention un-loseable) replacement. I didn't fight it because she's a pretty steady bedtime-only sucker and it's not interfered with play or socialization in the least. I cannot say the same for my son, who is now 4 1/2. His pacifier also got "lost" around the same time but he did well with the transition. That is, until about 6 weeks ago; out of nowhere he came home from a visit with his dad as a die-hard thumb sucking fanatic. I kid you not, that stub only came out of his mouth at meals and when he needed to speak.

Being as G is my oldest child, and constant victim of my numerous and on-going parenting failures, I have been at a complete loss for how to deal with this situation. I tried the whole "you're not a baby anymore and big kids have much cooler things to do than suck their thumbs" along with "dude, seriously, the smacking/sucking noise is making me homicidal" and on to vague, crunchy-theory directed "let's try to find another way for you to self-soothe that doesn't involve appendages and saliva." Not to mention that daycare was commenting about and questioning the behavior and its sudden onset and constant presence.

Eventually the slime and suckling got the best of me and I ordered a bottle of Mavala Stop - a nail polish with a distinct, terrible taste that is for nail-biters and thumb suckers alike. I must admit, I was feeling nervous and more than a little guilty about using it; but my parents used something like it with me and it didn't cause any long-term hatred for them, so onward I went. G and Sweet T were obliviously excited to get "toe-polish" on their thumbs; that alone made it a little more heartbreaking, as in the back of my mind I was thinking "you have no idea of the reality to come, though I've prepped you and issued constant reminders of the function of said toe-polish."

Sweet T threw a fit shortly after the initial application and immediately popped her thumb in her mouth. With watery eyes she drooled, moaned, groaned and complained all through stories and the bedtime routine. Six drinks of water later she was still lamenting "It's not getting out of my mouth. It's stuck on my tongue, momma." G was impressed enough by her reaction that he didn't even attempt so much as a lick. Though I did bust him stealing the baby's pacifier shortly thereafter. Hey, I'll take my victories where I can get them.

The next night was a little more interesting: G had decided that his forefinger made a perfectly acceptable replacement for his thumb so he was no worse for the wear. Are you fricking serious, kid? So he got the royal treatment: all ten little fingers painted for prevention. It gets better though, because he then transitioned to sucking the flesh of his forearm; his entire arm is still peppered with giant hickeys and he looks like a battered child. He's nothing if not innovative, right? At least there's that...

Sweet T was an entirely different story. As I went downstairs after tucking them in she starts a rousing round of "I don't have anything to put in my mouth!!" and carries on for some time. Now, a little background on my baby girl: there was an entire year of her life that when angry or frustrated, she would scream and cry until she vomited. Intentionally. It was lovely, really.

After a solid 30 minutes of crying I hear the dreaded "I puked, momma!" I stomped upstairs and started the water in the tub before silently stalking into her room to survey the damage. And damage there was; her entire bed, the carpet, her whole front and her long, beautiful (just washed) locks were covered in goop. Being more than a little disgusted and irritated I gave her the whisper-quiet lecture about how screaming until you vomit is NOT the way to get through life, then shipped her off to the tub while I got out my haz-mat suit and attacked the mess before me.

Being the lazy mom that I am, it wasn't hard for me to decide that rather than spend 45 minutes rinsing and gagging over the soiled bedsheet and jammies, I would simply stuff them in a Target bag and toss them in the trash. And before you get all uppity and send me emails about waste and eco-friendly habits, know that I'll expect you to back up your rhetoric by offering to come and pre-rinse all of my kid-soiled linens and clothes, you know, in the name of eco-consciousness.

I bathed my daughter for the second time in less than an hour and trucked her back to bed, but not before having a whole bunch of water. She was completely silent, as is often the case after one of her Super Mega Vomit Tantrums and she apologized as I snuggled her back to bed.

After replaying the scene in my head later that evening, I realized that she was still throwing up when I came upstairs and kept drooling and gagging while I got her undressed. And then it dawned on me: holy crap, she didn't do this on purpose. I think it was the perfect storm of screaming and getting worked up and then putting her thumb in her mouth that led to the Big Event. I felt terrible and about two inches tall; here I'm angry with my child because of actions that were not, in fact, intentional but rather entirely situational. And from a situation that I had created with my Genius plan for thumb sucking eradication. Lesson: learned. In spades.

I went upstairs right away and removed the polish, feeling more guilty by the minute. I spent the next two days apologizing profusely, owning my wrong-ness and vowing to be less shitty. As of today, Sweet T is a happy-go-lucky thumb sucking 3-year-old; for my money, she can suck that bad boy until she's 35 if she feels so inclined. As for G, he's moved on to sucking the life out of his bottom lip and won't dare chance tasting the "toe-polish." I'm pleased as punch and he's pretty proud of himself, as well. So I guess we'll always have that, right?

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