Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Growing Up is Hard

I knew we would be asked. Everyone at the office would ask. And they did.

From the nurse that brought us to the room to the hygienist and finally the Dentist himself. They each asked in turn:

"How's the thumb sucking?"


(From 2012, but the idea is still the same)

If you know my daughter personally and have spent any length of time with her I'm sure you've noticed her ambidextrous thumb sucking skills. It's a gift, really. A gift that must end for the sake of her teeth (and our orthodontic bill).

But I don't want it to end. This little girl, my only go-round with motherhood, is growing up and I just don't want to watch it happen anymore. I want her to forever curl up in my lap and suck her thumb as I rock her the in the last few moments of each day. I want to look back in the car and see her in the booster seat with one thumb in her mouth another on her ear as she dreams out the window. I want to know what that little "thuk-thuk-thuk" noise is when I check on her at night with my eyes unadjusted to the dark.

I had to let so much go already, can't I hold on to this last little bit of babyhood a little longer?

No? I know...

We have a strategy: a calendar that we put stickers on in hopes to earn a "thumb trophy" (her Dentist office will make a mold of her thumb and send it home with her) and the promise of  a build-a-bear Rainbow Dash. Because she is a little girl after all.

She's doing very, very well. She catches herself and reminds herself that she's going to stop forever. Even after she gets her trophy. When I catch her not sucking when I know she usually would she bounces towards me with the slight remnant of her baby belly and her lengthening limbs exclaiming "I'm growing up! I hafta grow up! I can't stop!"

Like Wendy moving to the nursery she has to leave her childish things behind if she's to grow up.

Needless to say, she's taking it a lot better than I am.

Unless she really needs it. We've had a couple of meltdowns since the dentist. Nothing earth-shattering. Just crying, weeping, gnashing of teeth. Over TV time limit, over what's for dinner.... You know, typical kid stuff.

Then one afternoon I get this: "But MAMA! I CAN'T reset!!! I can't suck my mouth! Remember?!?!" (Her term for sucking her thumb, which makes the whole act of thumb sucking that much sweeter, right?!)

And in that moment my heart broke into a thousand pieces.

And I did the only thing I knew to do. I opened my arms, let her crawl into my lap and snuggled close to my chest, and I just sang. Little songs that we've sung for years. One after another Not stopping until the tears had ended, until her breathing slowed, until she just sat. Silent. No "thuk-thuk-thuk" sound.

I buried my face in her hair smelling of sweat and shampoo.

"Growing up is hard, but I know you can do this. You're a brave girl. You're a big girl. I believe in you. You can let this go."

I don't know if I was talking to her or to me... but she seemed soothed and bounced back to whatever imaginary world she was in earlier. Ugh. Growing up is hard. I knew it, I just thought I had a few more years before we had to start.

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