Wednesday, April 23, 2008

They Aren't Kids So Much As They Are Blog Fodder

Last night we had a roast chicken for dinner. It is not the first time. In fact, Scallywag coined the term "chicken on a bone" and generally eats it really well. He has seen Plantboy carve up the whole bird before also. Scallywag (remember, he is 6 1/2) looked at the meat curiously as I put it on his plate. "So where does the chicken come from?" This is not the first time I've answered this question.

"A chicken at a farm."

"A chicken?" His little face crumpled and I saw something come over him that never has before when I've answered this question.

"Yes."

"You mean a real live animal chicken?" He began to get quite hysterical. "That's just rude and mean, we don't kill animals to eat them!" He jumped up from the table, "I'm not eating." I found him a few minutes later in his bed buried under the covers. We had a long talk.

After which, my own meat didn't look as appetizing.

Patchy Pirate has earned his own place on the blog this week, however. He loves to jump on my bed and throw my pillows, hoping, no doubt, that some obliging soul will throw them back. Monday, while I was tutoring, Patchy was up to his usual raucous jumping while Plantboy entertained the baby in another room. Some minutes later Patchy came down the hall shouting, "Daddy! I found something for you!"

Patchy proudly held out a silver foil-wrapped condom.

Plantboy said, "Thanks, buddy," and quickly put the something in his pocket. I can't help but be reminded of raccoons who will pick up anything shiny and small.

So, at my house this week we've tackled the big issues--animal rights and sex ed. What are you up to?

Actually, I do need some advice about an actual three year-old issue. (Though when you read the situation, you'll probably maintain it should have been a two-year old issue.) Patchy has a blanket that he loves. No big deal, I took a tattered wubby to college. The problem is that Patchy sucks his thumb when he has the blanket. Not just sometimes, every time. (His blognym could just as easily be Pavlov.) He doesn't suck his thumb at other times. It has been this way for over a year. He also only gets his blanket at bedtime, or the occasional naptime. So it isn't like he is dragging blue-friend and thumb to Sunbeams or anything.

Still, I always said that when the potty training was done, I'd take the blanket so that we could break the thumb habit.

The reality, however, is that I'm finding the follow through very difficult. Why? We had to take a binky away from Scallywag and it was fairly traumatic. With the binky, however, he didn't really LOVE it. It was more of a sleep tool for a child that was (and still is) very oral. He gave up napping almost entirely as we adjusted to a binky-free life. This was actually a big sacrifice for his very pregnant and then post-partum mother. With Patchy, however, he really actually sees this blanket as an essential member of our family. It is such a part of our daily routine for wake up and bedtime that it is a part of us. He is my snuggler and I think the cuddliness of the blanket is as joyful to him as the thumb. (Watch this clip from 3:45 to 4:30) Besides, for this second boy who has had almost every single thing second hand, the blanket is undeniably HIS. No other person in the family is allowed to touch it without his permission.

I've talked to lots of different people about this and heard many different opinions ranging from "He'll quit when his ready! Junior sucked his thumb until he was 13!" (Loud chuckle) to "I hate thumb sucking. I think it is completely gross." I can see the long term implications--Patchy has slightly buck teeth already--and his sleeping is tied to the thumb. However, the blanket-thumb combination hasn't affected his speech (development or enunciation) at all and he is learning self-monitoring about the times of day it is okay to have his blanket.

I allowed this dear little soul to be a thumb-baby because we'd just come through months of binky/sleep issues with the first and he didn't seem to like it anyway. (My only ultrasound shot of Patchy shows him with his left thumb--the only one he likes--in his mouth.) The day he found his thumb with regularity was the day we all began sleeping well again.

Our new baby is also a thumb-baby. I'm not sure I'm doing the right thing there by allowing it to start.

So advice from you mothers of children who sucked thumbs and/or fingers? What did you do, if anything, to stop the habit? Or advice about asking a child to give up a beloved and non-offending blanket or toy?

8 comments:

FoxyJ said...

I could use some advice too--my daughter is almost five and still sucks her thumb. Again, it's mostly associated with her "Duckie" and even then mostly when she's just watching TV or falling asleep. On the one hand I want to take the "it's no big deal" thing and just hope it phases out. I don't want to take away her friend Duckie. On the other hand though, I have my personal orthodontic history. I sucked my thumb until I was 9 and the only reason I stopped was through visiting a speech therapist. I wasn't having speech problems, but my front teeth were being pushed out of my mouth. There was a gap big enough to push a quarter through underneath my top teeth. I also had tongue thrust, so it wasn't just the thumb sucking (my tongue had never learned to go to the roof of my mouth while swallowing and it was pushing my teeth out). I had to go "cold turkey" on the thumb--for a month we put a tube sock over my arm and pinned it to my pajamas. My mom made a chart that I checked off each night for not sucking my thumb. I also had to go to several months of therapy and do exercises to retrain my tongue. Later I ended up with three years of braces, but that was to fix other orthodontic problems as well as the front teeth.

So anyways, what I would do is sit down and try and evaluate the extent of the problem. How much time does he spend sucking his thumb total? (I've noticed my daughter's thumb usually falls out after she's asleep). When does he do it? Can you tell if he does other oral issues like sticking his tongue out when he swallows or chewing his fingers? (those will damage teeth even more than the thumb) We've tried making rules like "thumbsucking and Duckie only happen in bed" but haven't been very good at following up on them. You can also suggest he substitute another behavior like stroking the blanket instead of sucking his thumb.

So this was the longest comment ever, but I hope it helps!

Christie said...

I say keep the blankie and see a dentist about the thumb sucking. My nephew (a reforming thumb-sucker) has an appliance in the top of his mouth that keeps him from sucking his thumb. I think thats what it's for, anyway. (It's not sharp either.) I'd talk to your dentist for suggestions. (As this friend is clueless.)

Amy said...

Oh, this topic makes me so anxious! My three year old has photocopy symptoms to yours, and I've got a two year old who is a binkie addict. "zee-zee" is her friend, and it rips my heart out to think about taking it away cold turkey. We found a product called "Thum" - found in the pharmacy section or behind the counter. It's a nailpolish you put on their thumb made up of cayenne pepper and citric acid. Tastes NASTY and it's a "reminder" for her to not suck her thumb. It's helped a lot. I've also put the blanket away to "rest" to eliminate her sucking when bored. I don't know what to do about my binkie baby. He's always been such a fussy baby, and it seems to be the only thing to calm him and help him sleep! Good luck. If nothing else, know you aren't the only one!

Nemesis said...

I know I'm late to the party, but I really like your new template. I'm no help on the thumb-sucking thing, though. I don't remember if my parents tried incredibly hard to stop me, but I kept going until I was about 11. And then one day I just didn't need it anymore.

on.the.run said...

The chicken thing cracks me up. My sister is a vegetarian not because she is a huge animal lover or for health reasons... she is a vegetarian because eating meat grosses her out.

My two cents on the thumb sucking for what it is worth - don't worry about it. He most likely will need braces anyway (unless you are those magical people who never do.) Especially if he only sucks it when he has his blanket and he only has his blanket at home/bed/nap time. Sometimes I feel like as parents we do things that other parents think we should do that don't really matter. If you really want him to stop though you may be able to tell him that if he wants to keep his blanket he has to stop sucking his thumb... that would've worked with one of mine but not the other one.

Girly Momma said...

i'm sorry i have no advice. none of mine have been thumb suckers nor have they been overly attached to something. mya has a "white blankie" that she likes sometimes when she gets hurt but it's not a crutch. i do however like the stories about your kids. they are great!

Kimberly Bluestocking said...

I have nothing meaningful to add to the thumb-sucking discussion, but I just realized I never answered your question about the rhubarb story. You're more than welcome to use the idea any way you please.

Don't ask me about the finer points of rhubarb cultivation, though. Having never grown it, I really don't know much about the process yet. I just yearn to learn some day. :)

CaLM RAPIDS said...

My two cents is only worth about two cents, but here goes anyway. My four older children had binkies and they disappeared when they were one. One or two hard days and then it was over. Good idea. Benj was always more of a thumb sucker and still is. He turns 8 this summer. I sucked my thumb until I was 8 and never needed braces. I kept sucking it because everyone wanted me to stop and quit when I was ready to. With Benj, I ask him to only suck it at night when he's going to bed. And he still sucks it whenever he wants. It's not cute anymore--especially at school in 2nd grade. But, it's his choice. I wish I would have made him take the binky like I did with the others. And we don't know if he'll need braces--all of the other kids have so far. That's just part of life.