“Mom, how about I just stop sucking my thumb when I’m six?” Brianne suggested this morning after my skillful attempt to persuade her to set her New Years Resolution to stop sucking her thumb.
I really feel like it’s potty training with her all over again. Ignore it, let her grow out of it on her own, reward system…I’ve exhausted all my resources. It’s not the possibility of a crooked smile that haunts me..it’s the germs. It’s just not sanitary for her to stick her thumb in her mouth after she’s touched every single item she’s passed at the grocery store…or the mall…or at church…or at school…(Yep, she’s one of those. Knocked a thing of plates over at WalMart last week…thank God for Mom’s excellent reflexes, or someone would be back-paying me allowance until she’s six.) With flu season in full swing, it’s every Mom’s nightmare to hear their child complain of a stomach ache. It sends an immediate panic through me. In fact, I often start to feel like I”m gonna throw up, myself.
A part from being kinda gross, when she inserts that thumb in her mouth…blanket in tow…she becomes a zombie. Eyes glazed over, bumping into things, and people, as she wanders around the house aimlessly. You can talk to her all you want…she may even respond…but don’t expect a response, or a reaction, to any part of it.
Remember how the baby books tell you when your child is able to handle multiple directions at once? Like, “Brianne, go get your black boots from the garage and put them on. Then put your coat on.” I’ll say.
Now, when she was 2, she’d come proudly doddling back over minutes later with her boots on the wrong feet and her coat on ready to be buttoned or zipped. Now that she’s five, 10 minutes later she’s standing there looking back at me with her mouth wide open wondering why I look like I’m about to freak out.
“Why?” she’ll ask.
Right. And this is why I feel like a drill sergeant in the morning before school. Three year old Lo is ready to hit the road for pre-school, and Blanket Zombie has drooled a puddle in the corner of the kitchen.
The most frustrating part of all of this is that now that she’s in kindergarten all day, I get a glimpse of what she’s capable of. Not that she’s a terror at home, but she’s an absolute ANGEL at school. extremely smart, figuring out complicated worksheets before her classmates. Her teacher says she’s loved and adored by all, which means her social skills must be in tact in order to be friends with everyone.
When I pick her up from kindergarten, she flies into the van and hugs me, then plops down in her seat and assumes the Blanket Zombie position.
“How was school today?” I’ll ask.
“Gooooddddda, ” she’ll responded, the word muffled by the thumb jammed in her mouth.
“What did you do? What did you learn?” I’ll prod.
Puddle of drool.
Now, if I could only tell you how excited I am to pick her up from school after missing her all day…if I could just translate that feeling of angst into words…and that’s what I get.
So, this morning, when she suggested that she should just suck her thumb until she’s six, my eyes rolled to the back of my head off my pillow and to the floor.
For moment I thought, “maybe I’m fighting a losing battle here.” I mean, like potty training, soon this stage will pass. I don’t miss anything about diapers, but I do reminisce a lot about those teeny tiny baby days. Soon enough, I’ll be looking back on this stage while I’m dealing with six-year-old sass…or teenage terror…
It’s almost as if, in her own way, Brianne feels that same surge of growth coming on. Clinging to me constantly, following me around on my heals, needing lots of “Mommy cuddles,” as she calls them. She can feel it, too. With her little sister trailing along right smack behind her, she has a constant reminder of how things used to be for her before all day kindergarten began in the fall. In fact, trying to keep her from regressing-or faking illness to avoid school-at times can be a challenge. But, then, there are “big kid” things that pull her in the other directions just as much. Being able to run the whole mile in the kids fun run, spend a Friday afternoon off with her girlfriends for a playdate…disappear into her painting or drawing for a while…be able to put the teeny tiny Barbie shoes on all by herself now, and play Wii Just Dance until she beats her top score.
She’s growing up. It’s a delicate balance knowing when she really does just need to be cuddled like a toddler and when she needs to be disciplined like a growing child. It pulls at my heart-strings, too. Letting go of every stage is a complicated mix of emotions. My competitive nature, as a mother, surfaces through over thinking everything…not wanting to push her too hard, or not enough, or fail to foster her interests enough, or encourage her to choose what my dreams are for her rather than for her to follow her heart. It’s not really necessary to put that much pressure on myself, though. Nor, should I pass that kind of thinking to Brianne. No need for perfectionism here. We’re God’s peeps. He’s blessed me with the gift of watching her grow, not tasked me with making sure she turns out the way He wants. “Let go a little,” I can almost here Him say, “you’re being a little over dramatic.” Hmmm…she get’s it from somewhere, I guess… But in my opinion, an over dramatic response is a direct reflection of the amount of concern I feel. I care. To care that much about a person must require some love to be involved, right? So, moms, be overly concerned. That’s just love leaking out of you.
“Brianne,” I finally responded…that’s what you said last year.”
“I did?” she asked. “I don’t remember that, Mom.”
“Yes, last year you informed me that you were going to stop sucking your thumb when you were five.” I reminded her.
“No, I didn’t…” she matter-of-factly retorted.
Must have been a conversation I had with Blanket Zombie, then.
Happy Habit Breaking in 2014!