Thursday, November 5, 2009

Lesson #5: A Boy and His Thumb

Once upon a time there was a baby boy of squishy leg rolls and chubby cheeks. His mother gave him a pacifier when he cried, to soothe him to sleep. He loved his pacifier and began to call it his "yum-yum." This mother liked the yum-yum because it calmed him down when he was frustrated, which was often. And she liked that it was something they could eventually wean him of. They were a family rich in yum-yums, hidden in many places around the house and used for bedtime, car rides, movies, and late afternoon grumpies.

Then one day, this baby boy grew up into a preschooler. And his mom decided that it was a good time to say good-bye to the yum-yum. He missed it, but learned to sleep without it. They coped with disappointments and frustrations without it's help. But he wasn't ready to give up the soothing feeling of something in his mouth. They tried gum and a chewy tube, but they weren't the same at all. At long last he found the perfect thing for his mouth - his thumb. His mom didn't think it was perfect at all. How would she ever help him stop?

As I wrote this little tale, I realized again how much of it is about ME rather than CARVER. Interesting. I am a control-freak of various degrees and naturally like the security of pacifiers, that I get to choose when it's used and where it hides, when it's time to outgrow it. I'd asked some of Carver's OTs and SLPs and gotten recommendations to take away the yum-yum, but ultimately it was my choice. And he wasn't ready at all. He may have learned to sleep without it, but he wasn't ready to LIVE his life without it. I resisted that thumb, but in the end realized that it was my own fault for taking the yum-yum away too soon.

Then I made an even greater realization: Carver needs his thumb and that's OKAY. It's not my issue, it's his. I've even learned that it's a wonderful thing that Carver gets to choose when and when not to suck on his thumb. I see patterns - when he watches movies or listens to books, when he rides in the car or sits at church, when I tickle him, when I snapped at him this morning from the shower because he was playing in my jewelry box after I JUST told him not do. He sleeps with the yum-yum because it is still his favorite, but he doesn't get it any other time and he doesn't mind at all. He is learning to self soothe and that's an important skill for anyone. He won't suck his thumb his whole life - at least not in public, right? :)

So the lesson of the day is to accept your kids as they are. I never wanted a thumb-sucking child. EVER. But Carver needs his thumb and I take him as he is. We don't get to choose what our children like and don't like. We don't get to choose their personalities or sense of humor. I am learning to let go of my control issues, to honor my children's individuality and even let my 8 year old part her own hair.


Tom and Ruthann said...

I so appreciate the time you take to express so much of your inner thoughts and feelings in this blog! It really helps the rest of us who care and want to help gain insights into your concerns and learn about Carver from your perspective.

We love you and your great example!

Alice Wills Gold said...

I think that most of anyone parenting issues come down to control...we try and control whatever it is that we are afraid of. Or we don't control ourselves enough and it hurts the children in some way. I love this post. Thanks for the honesty.

donna said...

You are very wise. This decision will probably keep many gray hairs at bay.

signed, a former thumbsucking child