For the past week I have been talking with Lily about her thumb-sucking. She just turned five in May. She only sucks her thumb at night, while tightly gripping her Bearbear she has had since she was born. Bearbear is worn down in many places, always looking a bit dingy, and is often found suffocating under her pillow or between her sheets. He has been loved much and long.
I didn't really consider the rational approach to work, but I gave it a go for good measure. My tactic? Her teeth. I told her about her baby teeth and her adult teeth. What happens to your teeth when you constantly suck your thumb. I told her about the icky tasting nail polish some of her friends have used to help them stop. I told her she had some time to think about it. Lots of time.
Last night, after stories and songs, kisses and hugs, Lily pulled my face close to hers to whisper something to me.
"Mommy, take Bearbear away. I don't want to suck my thumb any more."
A long pause. Wrapping my brain around my own surprising fear.
"Maybe you would like to just hold your Bearbear, and then just try to not suck your thumb. Then, if you really need to, you can."
Coward! Even as I am saying those words, I know how dumb they are. Of course I want to her to stop sucking her thumb. We talked about it. But giving up Bearbear completely? I want her let go of the thumb-sucking, not toss OUR Bearbear aside and leap ahead ten years!
"No, I think you should take Bearbear away, Mommy. If I hold him, I will want to suck my thumb and it will be too hard to stop."
It was the serious, thoughtful rationale that hit me. Seeing her own weakness and knowing herself well enough to know what she needs to accomplish her goal. She is FIVE!
After a minute long hug, where I try to reverse time and make her little again, I tell her how proud I am of her. I make it back to our room and start telling the mister what happened. Tears welling up. We both are silent. To most of you, I know it seems like such a small thing. Even as I am writing this I hear the silliness. But, it 's just the beginning. I don't think I will be ready for any of it.
So long, Bearbear. Thanks for all the love.