Everybody has a bad habit or a vice.
Or several of each.
Reilly the Red sucks her thumb.
This isn’t something that we’re happy about.
It’s a disgusting habit, and I’m tired of getting pictures developed that show my beautiful daughter with her thumb in her mouth.
We have tried talking to her, embarrassing her, shaming her, punishing her.
We tried the Dr. Phil (do nothing) approach, the ridiculous ‘drink applesauce out of a straw before going to bed’ approach, even started calling her Henrietta Thumbsucker – all for nothing.
Admittedly, the time spent sucking the thumb has reduced with age.
And we don’t let her get away with sucking her thumb while she is awake.
But I draw the line at setting my alarm for 1230 am and getting up in the middle of the night to yank her thumb out of her mouth like her dentist told me I had “an obligation to do”.
Several months ago, I decided to sit down and have a heart to heart with my daughter about the thumb sucking.
Reilly was upset with the whole conversation.
She didn’t want to talk about her thumb.
After much prodding, I asked her very plainly, “Why do you suck your thumb?”
She simply shrugged her soldiers.
I decided to rephrase the question, “Why can’t you STOP sucking your thumb?”
I was expecting another shoulder shrug or an “I don’t know, Mommy.”
Instead, Reilly told me, “Mommy, my thumb talks to me.”
Once again, I realized that my psychology degree continues to pay for itself, each and every day that I am a mother.
I decided to engage further questioning.
I asked Reilly, “What does your thumb say when it talks to you?”
The very serious response was, “It says, Suck Me, Reilly, Suck Me.”
Yeah, there is no conditioned response to this statement in any published psychology book ANYwhere.
Alas, the thumbsucking continues.