My oldest daughter, Brianne, has carried around “Fuzzy Wuzzy” for four, going on five, years. Her entire life has been accompanied by the beautiful pink blanket given to me by an amazing family friend at my baby shower. Named “Flower Blankie” for the pretty flowers on the silky part of the blanket, “Fuzzy Wuzzy” emerged sometime later as the worn parts became snagged…or…’fuzzy.’ It’s comforted her through all toddler-life’s tragic happenings and joyful discoveries. It’s the thing most precious to her.
Unfortunately, it’s not the only method of comfort she’s addicted to. It’s accompanied by her thumb jammed into her mouth. I loved it when she was a baby. I never had to worry about breaking her from a pacifier. She spit that binky out for her thumb at 3 months old and never looked back. I loved the blanket, too…and encouraged it. It was cute to watch her get excited to snuggle up with her favorite pink blankie at nap time and bed time. Or, when the ouchies occurred. As time went on and she grew into her tall, lanky legs, those ouchies happened more and more…and she needed that pink blanket more and more each time a new scrape or bruise or bump turned up.
Soon, it became necessary to carry blankie everywhere, because she was just coming fresh off a boo-boo, or as anticipating the next one. The farther she got into toddler-hood, the more complicated the boo-boo’s got. As I struggled with methods of discipline, she struggled with the little toddler hurts of the word “no.” When baby sister came along, blankie was there as she learned to share her Mommy and Daddy and Kitty. As baby sister got older, blankie was there to dry tears of hurt feelings over sibling squabbles. And now, I can’t help but smile as she tells me all about the boy she’s going to marry someday while holding that pink blanket and her her thumb stuck in her mouth.
When Brianne get’s home from school everyday, it’s the first thing she looks for. Pink Blankie. Fuzzy Wuzzy. It’s really fine with me, even though she’s getting ready to turn five in a couple of months. As far as I’m concerned, she can carry that beat up blanket around as long as her little heart desires. But, the thumb has to go.
Thumb-sucking, though a blessing in her infancy, has become unsanitary. To the point that it makes me gag watching her stick her thumb in her mouth. Why, gag? Am I being to dramatic? No, I’m not. Not when I’m there to witness everything she does right before her thumb hits her mouth…and no, it’s not washing her hands diligently. She just picked a booger out of her nose, or her wedgie out of her butt, or itched her but, or ran her hand alongside the dirty car, played on the playground, took off and inspected her shoes and socks, picked toe lint out, took a worm back to his family in the dirt, built a castle in the sand which is surrounded by sea-gull poop, got done swimming in the lake, just fell on the driveway, used a public bathroom, rode a roller coaster at Cedar Point…there’s a magnitude of really nasty stuff that kids begin to touch with their hands as they grow. No amount of hand washing and sanitizing can cover it all. It just becomes really nasty, and warrants the end of thumb sucking.
The first time I approached Brianne with the issue, she understood. With a grossed out look on her face, she said in response, “But I have to suck my thumb with Fuzzy Wuzzy.”
Strategy number two seemed logical. Temporarily remove the blanket. It worked, somewhat. She doesn’t always suck her thumb without Flower Blankie..unless she get’s hurt or is scared or mad or sad…then the thumb goes in with or without it’s companion. And what mother can let her baby girls go through the night without the blanket she’s clutched to every night since birth? Not this one. I have to come clean, even when Dad takes it away for disciplinary reasons…and rightly so!…I sneak one to her to sleep with. Spare blankets…replacements. I cannot let her go to bed heartbroken over anything. I just can’t.
Sensing my frustration on what to do about the issue of thumb-sucking during one of our bedtime talks, Brianne said to me,
“Mom, how ’bout I just stop sucking my thumb when I turn 5. Like, on my Birthday, when I wake up, I’ll just stop sucking my thumb.”
“Okay,” I replied, remembering all the struggle it took to potty train her until one day she just looked at me plainly and said, ‘I want to wear big girl pants now,’ and never looked back.
So, we’ll see. Will she drop the habit on the morning of April 3rd? I believe that she will. I have faith in this little girl, who has so plainly and openly told me what’s going on in that sweet little head of hers since she could talk. Hours of bedtime chatting between the two of us, starting very young…before she was 2. My early talker has been giving the gift of verbosity, that’s certainly clear. It’s forced me to be a better listener.
Almost 5 years old, I clutch onto every conversation we have as if it’s the last glass of drinkable water on the planet. Hoping it never ends. That I don’t make mistakes in parenting that shut off those lines of communication that have always flowed so freely between us. Though she has to stop sucking her thumb, she can have her blankie forever. I will be one of those moms that drags it out to show her husband one day, proudly telling the story of how she carried it everywhere with her.
I will hold onto Pink Blankie longer than she will. That’s my job. I’m her Mom. It’s my job to keep reminding her of what a beautiful baby she was when she was born. How I wrapped her in that beautiful blanket and passed her to her Grandpa, who’s eyes welled up with tears at the sight of his first grandchild. It will be me that reminds her of our bedtime talks…and my job to keep telling her how continually amazed at what a beautiful, wonderful, human being God entrusted me with.
Five years old doesn’t just symbolize the end of thumb sucking. It’s the beginning of Kindergarten, and she doesn’t want to go to. “I will miss you, Mommy,” she says with tears in her eyes, clutching onto Fuzzy Wuzzy. “I will miss you, too,” I respond, with tears in mine. “But I will be there to pick you up, and write you notes in your lunch box…”
It will be a whole new world of adventures for us, my daughter and I. I can’t stop time. I can’t even pause it for long enough to take a breath sometimes. All I can do is continue to be there, always. Ready to listen, praying for more patience than I knew I could posses, putting lady-like manners in place and enforcing the “no boys allowed in your room” rule. Hopefully, as time progresses, she’ll be able to clutch onto me, and to her faith, as freely and easily as she does to Fuzzy Wuzzy. That’s the ultimate goal, right? To lead them there. I was always told…’be a leader.’
Happy ‘Leading,” Mom’s.