We need to talk about Hattie for a minute.
You’ll all remember how she used to run me ragged as a toddler, right? Raging tantrums every day, and a will of iron that nearly broke me. Well, it turns out that her iron will has a good side, now she’s outgrown some of the more challenging elements and has started (mostly) using her powers for good. A case in point: quitting her thumb-sucking habit.
We had a dental appointment in early December, and my deluded belief that Hattie’s thumb-sucking hadn’t really affected her teeth. I thought we were in the clear because she didn’t have Bugs Bunny teeth. However, it turns out that her front teeth weren’t bucked because her entire jaw was slowly getting pushed out of whack. The dental nurse was fairly blunt about it: we either needed to convince Hattie to stop sucking her thumb, or start saving up for braces. However, the good news was that things might largely right themselves over the next couple of years, provided that she stops soon.
As we left the appointment I suggested to Hattie that she tried not to suck her thumb during the day. I wasn’t at all confident that she’s manage to avoid doing it when she was in bed at night, as she’s fallen asleep sucking her thumb every day since she was a few weeks old and about to wrestle a hand out of her swaddle. Hattie took it all on board, and then stopped sucking her thumb that day. That night, I told her that I thought she was a very strong little girl, and that she’d be able to quit the thumb-sucking if she decided she wanted to do it.
The following day, we realised that she really had decided to do it. She apparently forgot about it once while at kindy, but Joe reminded her, and she stopped sucking her thumb straight away. She started sitting at home with her right hand clasping her chin and her thumb very close to her mouth, but she didn’t put it in. And when we went into the kids’ room at night to tuck them in, she’d be asleep with her arms stretched straight out and down at her sides, keeping her thumb as far away from her mouth as possible. Even while unconscious, she was determined.
Now, when I posted about this on Facebook several friends suggested that she might relapse – they mentioned how hard it was for them to stop sucking their thumbs as children, and how it took several attempts. However, Hattie doesn’t seem to be interested in trying more than once. I’ve only seen her suck her thumb once since that dental visit, and that was on a very rare evening when she had a nightmare, and slipped her thumb into her mouth while Tristan was giving her a cuddle. But when I visited her a few minutes later, her thumb was out again.
A couple of weeks ago I mentioned her success at giving up thumb-sucking, and asked her if it had been difficult. No, she assured me: it had been easy! It’s become clear that she really doesn’t want people fussing about her achievement: when various friends and family members have mentioned in over the Christmas break, she’s been very reluctant to discuss it, and pretty much ignores it until the subject is changed. It’s no big deal: it’s just another day in the life of Flash Hattie.
In case you think Hattie sounds like some kind of freak who can’t abide failure, let me give you a quote from her recently, which I overheard while she was playing with Joe and a couple of friends. They were doing gymnastics in the living room, and Hattie seemed to be the coach (of course). She reassured her gymnastics team:
“OK everyone: do what you do – and if you mess up, don’t worry! Just say ‘la la la’ on the way back.”
I don’t know about you, but I think those are good rules to live by – I fully intend to just say “la la la” whenever I mess things up, and not worry about it.
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