Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Tale of Graham Thumb

When Cael was born, I tried to do everything right. I nursed him exclusively and waited the recommended amount of time before even attempting to introduce a pacifier. I swaddled him with textbook precision despite the fact that he kept us awake most of the night, every night. (Foreshadowing, anyone?) I counted down the days until he was exactly six months old before I fed him his first bite of solid food.

To make a long story short, I was a first time mom.

Then came Graham, the most easy-going baby one could hope to have.  He slept in our room with the lights on as we spoke to one another in full voices.  He played quietly and was happy to tag along wherever we chose to go.   And I got lax.  He didn't always get to sleep at his predetermined bedtime and sometimes a few days would pass between baths.  But the biggest mistake I was making was one I hadn't considered.

Earlier this week I took Graham in for his first dentist appointment. I know that three is the most common age to began dental checkups, but my history of being a complete and total wuss has led me to expose them early and therefore attempt to fend off the fear that paralyzed me in the dentist's chairs for years.

See, I'm not all that bad.

When Graham and I sat in the chair to have his teeth examined, he was afraid. For some reason he won't open his mouth very wide, a problem which has made brushing his teeth and these subsequent dental visits much more difficult for him. The crying, although frustrating, at least forced him to open his mouth and allowed our dentist to see my huge mistake.

"Does he suck his thumb?"

"Yeah.  He always has."

"Not anymore, he doesn't."

And our dentist, a very good personal friend, proceeded to tell me that Graham's thumb-sucking has already begun to warp his palate and that, if he continues, he will have serious bite issues and require thousands of dollars of orthodontia.

Oh, happy day.

I explained to him that Graham does most of his thumb-sucking during the night and I am not there to intercept this behavior.  We discussed the possibility of transitioning him from his thumb to an orthodontic pacifier, but I would really rather not introduce a pacifier at age two.  The other option is a contraption available on the internet that velcroes the child's arms to a firm board that keeps them straight as if attached to a splint.  Birthday present, maybe?

After receiving a cavity-free report, we left the dentist's office, and I was left to choose which option would be the lesser of the evils.  Careful consideration has led me to the following conclusion: I'm pretty much screwed.  There are three possible outcomes of this scenario, and none of them sound good.

1) Do nothing and plan to sink a great deal of money in expensive and painful orthodontic devices for my son.

2) Attempt to transition him to a pacifier and know that he'll likely still be sucking on it when he leaves for college.  Better than beer, I guess.

3) Purchase the Velcro contraption and set aside money now for Graham's future therapy.

I haven't decided yet what I'm going to do, but I feel like I can't win. Why does parenting involve so many lose-lose situations? I guess this is what I get for becoming a second-time mom. 

How much do dentures cost, anyway?


  1. We are in the same boat...what to do?what to do? We've tried bandaids, socks taped over their hands, that icky tasting nail polish. I'm pretty much at the point where I'm thinking of opening a new savings account just for the ortho...
    Beth from WTE

  2. Could you just remove his thumbs perhaps? :-)

    I will say though, I think pacis get a bad rap. People always would tell me that Raya was going to be using her paci forever b/c I didn't get rid of it at the recommended 6 month window, and instead she was still using it at age 2. But you know what? I "forgot" the paci about a month or so ago and she barely batted an eye. She's never asked for it since. I'm sure sometimes there are a couple days of tantrums, but I'd say if he's willing to switch to a paci I'd do that....let him forget about his thumb for awhile, and then "forget" the paci and hope he doesn't remember his old thumb friend :-)


  3. Beth- I'm thinking that saving for braces sounds like a smart plan, too. I didn't suck my thumb and I STILL had braces for 6 YEARS!

  4. Shawna- Does he really NEED thumbs? I've seen very functional people that have no arms. I think he's just being selfish. JK

    I'm going to start with the nasty tasting nail stuff, and if/when that doesn't work, I'm going to try to hook him on the pacifier. Seems like a step backward, but oh well!!!

  5. Take it from me, a thumb sucker for the first 11 years of my life, there is nothing you are going to be able to do to "unhook" him & your going to piss him off trying. If he's anything like me, it's a self-soothing addiction. You wouldn't take away his favorite stuffed animal, would you? Then why in the world would you take his thumb away?
    Warning: The nasty tasting nail stuff only tastes nasty for the first 10 seconds & then you can't taste it any longer. The 10 seconds of nasty are very much worth the reward!
    When I was old enough to be self-conscious, I only thumb sucked at home. So don't worry, you won't be the mother of a 17 year old who is sucking his thumb at prom.
    In my case, I stopped thumb sucking when I got a retainer....yes, I said retainer (oh no) & yes, it did cost my parents some cash & yes, I went on to have braces, but not because I sucked my thumb. My mouth was simply too small of all my teeth.
    What I'm saying is; All this possible preventative maintenance my be a big waste of time anyway. He may need braces for a different reason, he may not need them at all.
    My vote, as if you can't already guess, let the little man be happy with his thumb for a while!

  6. My mom used that nail stuff on me to get me to stop biting my nails--I still bite my nails ;-) Good luck!!!!!!!


  7. I've heard that about the nail polish, that it is only effective for a few moments. And you're right-- Graham will likely need braces anyway because he has my genes, just hopefully not my horrible teeth!

  8. Shawna- It sounds like that stuff is a waste! The socks on his hands don't sound too bad now...

  9. You *have* to post pics of him with the sock on his hands :-P

    And yes, I actually told my mom "Cael would go crazy for that Thomas bed!" haha.



Leave your own "ism". Cael and Graham double-dog dare you.