Jack has been a finger sucker since birth. Actually, before birth as evidenced in an ultrasound photo. At first it was cute. And original. While thumb-sucking is an everyday, run of the mill habit of children around the world, sucking the index finger is not so common. We thought it was pretty cute...
Once Jack hit preschool, we started realizing that maybe we needed to nip this habit in the bud. For the past 3 years, we've tried all sorts of tactics to discourage the hand in the mouth. Nothing worked. Bandaids, clear nail polish, bribes, threats, prizes, punishments, we tried it all. I even threatened to cut off his finger. I'm not proud of that one - I strive to never use empty threats, ones I won't actually carry through on. But I was desperate.
He went through kindergarten sucking his finger. He went through the summer after kindergarten, sucking his finger. He turned 6. Still sucked his finger. I was growing more and more concerned about him starting first grade with finger in mouth. The germs, potential teasing, the viruses he might pick up . . . I was worried about it all!
The weekend before school started, we went camping at Pismo Beach. We rented an RV trailer. It was heaven. On the second night, about 4:30 in the morning, we were woken with a big "THUD". Then a loud scream. Steve and I jumped out of bed, ran to the other end of the trailer, and found Jack, with a bloody face. Jack had rolled off the top bunk. He had split his lower lip wide open with his teeth, and had knocked his top three teeth way back. They were loose, the gums were swollen and bloody, and he was a mess. I panicked, thinking of his teeth. Would they be okay?
Three days later, Jack had his 6-month check up at the dentist. Through X-rays, it was determined that he had fractured two of the three top teeth, and they would need to come out. But no damage was done to the permanent teeth, big relief! An appointment was scheduled for later in the week to pull the fractured teeth, once the swelling had gone.
That night, I noticed that Jack's finger wasn't in his mouth. As I thought about it, I realized that it hadn't been in his mouth since the fall. I asked him about it, and he said "It hurts my teeth when my finger is in there."
Now, Jack has a new smile.
It will be this way for a while, as the permanent teeth are no where in sight. And my concerns about him starting first grade with a finger in the mouth were unnecessary. So while I wouldn't necessarily have chosen for him to knock out his front teeth, if this is what it took to kick the finger-in-the-mouth habit, so be it.