“Am I going to have a cavity? What if I have a cavity? I’ve been brushing my teeth. If I have a cavity, I’m going to scream. I don’t want a shot in my mouth,” Tommy said seriously.
“If you do have a cavity, they’ll numb your mouth first so you don’t feel the shot,” I explained.
“I don’t want a shot!” Tommy shouted, slapping a hand over his mouth.
I sighed. We were at the dentist and my son was freaking out. Ironically, my five year old was calmly waiting in her chair.
“It’ll be fine, Tommy,” I promised. I crossed my fingers. PLEASE let it be fine. If he did have a cavity I was in no mood to deal with it.
The dentist came back and checked Natalie’s mouth first. Good news! No cavities.
“If Natalie doesn’t have a cavity then it’s not fair if I have to deal with one,” Tommy huffed.
Oh for—I was tempted to ask if we could put the laughing gas on him so he’d hush.
“But,” the dentist continued.
But? What’s this but business? What? Was she missing a tooth? Was something wrong? WHAT WAS WRONG?
“Well, do you suck your thumb?” the dentist asked Natalie.
“Yup!” Natalie popped her thumb in her mouth to prove it.
“You need to stop,” the dentist said.
Natalie’s mouth went O in surprise. Still, her thumb remained. Her eyes flicked back and forth as if wondering if this all was an awful joke.
“It’s messing up your bite,” the dentist explained. “You’re a pretty girl. You don’t want to mess up your teeth, do you?”
Natalie slowly took the thumb from her mouth.
“So no more thumb sucking. Otherwise we’ll have to put a brace on your teeth to stop you the next time you come in,” the dentist added.
What now? A brace? That sounded expensive.
“You can stop sucking your thumb, right?” I said cheerfully. “Rapunzel doesn’t suck her thumb.”
Natalie blinked at me. “But…” she said quietly. “I love my thumb.”
“You’re too old for it now. You’re five,” I reminded her. “You don’t need a thumb anymore.”
“But I do.” Natalie hung her head sadly.
I didn’t have time to focus on her because then I saw the dentist checking Tommy’s teeth. I sucked in my breath. Please let there be no cavities—
“Dkfwl adfklja fklfjas?” Tommy asked as the dentist had her fingers in his mouth.
“What?” the dentist asked, removing her fingers.
“Do I have any cavities?” Tommy wondered nervously.
“Well.” The dentist put her fingers back in his mouth. “It looks like you’re good. No cavities!”
“Mommy. Was the dentist joking? Is my thumb over?” Natalie sniffled beside me.
Oh, crap. My other kid.
“Well. Yes. It’s about time, don’t you think?” I said gently.
“I’m so sad,” Natalie muttered. Out of habit, her thumb went into her mouth. Then she realized that she wasn’t allowed to suck anymore and removed it. “I’m so sad.”
“This is a great day!” Tommy sang. “No cavities!”
Natalie was probably thinking: Worst. Day. Ever!
We’re still working on getting her not to suck her thumb. She slips from time to time. And when I check on her at night, she’s usually fast asleep, her thumb wedged in her mouth.
This is not going to be easy.
I have six months to rid her of her habit.
Yes, I know there is stuff I can rub on her thumb that tastes gross. But Natalie is smart. She’d simply wash it off. Or get USED to the nasty taste and suck anyway.
Is there a Thumb Suckers Anonymous?