So I took Lucy to see the pediatric dentist last Monday. Turns out when she dove into the treadmill the previous week she pushed back both her top front teeth, but one is worse than the other, and is a little loose. Luckily Lucy can still bite correctly. If her teeth had moved 1 mm farther, she wouldn’t be able to close her teeth together and the dentist would have to “do something about it.” An x-ray revealed nothing broken and no apparent damage. So we just have to wait about 6 weeks and the tooth should firm up and no longer be loose. Meanwhile, Lucy should eat a “soft food diet” which means no carrots, apples, pizza crust chewed directly by her front teeth. She’s been really good about moving food to the side/back of her mouth to chew — especially since she says it hurts to chew with her front tooth — so I think this will go fine. I suppose now would also be as good a time as any for them to stop eating the gravel from Melissa’s driveway across the street.
Additionally, Cynthia, the dentist, who is a friend/neighbor of ours and actually babysat for Zoe and Lucy when they were babies (therefore she sort of loves them), has requested that Lucy stop sucking her fingers to prevent further damage to the teeth. Oh. And while we’re at it, we should try to get Zoe to stop sucking her thumb too.
(One year ago — in full fingerdom and lots of ponytails)
When I was a kid, I used to suck my fingers when I went to sleep — my index and middle finger on my left hand — and it was difficult to stop when I was 5 or 6 or 7 years old (although it must not have been that ego-damaging if I can’t even remember when it happened). So, empathetically speaking, I’m all for helping Lucy and Zoe learn to relax without the use of their fingers in their mouths. But there’s one small problem. This would mean that they were truly not babies anymore.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not waxing nostalgic here like so many cooing grandmothers. As much as I love my girls, and as much as I’ve loved them since day one, I am extremely glad to be long finished with the infant stage. Before having children, I didn’t know I’d feel this way. But I think raising two infants at once was a bit of an overdose for me. They were certainly cute, and watching two babies become human is the most interesting journey I’ve ever taken. But believe me when I say I wouldn’t go back to those first few months for a minute. So when I refer to their not being babies anymore, I’m talking about more than wistful memories.
I think this feels more like a hiccup of time. One that lurches you farther forward than the previously smooth transitions you’re accustomed to. Typically, daily, weekly, monthly, I see Zoe and Lucy growing and changing by nuance rather than by leaps. A day arrives where I realize, “Hey, they’re not doing “X” anymore. I wonder when that stopped.” But this. This would be a jolt. Or at least the idea of this. When they get sleepy and cozy and cuddly, like book reading time, or story telling time, or long car ride time, will they just sit there? No chubby fingers splayed around Lucy’s mouth. No reflexive thumb-in-mouth-finger-twirling-hair for Zoe. The sucking reflex, that which makes all babies happy, would now be left behind. The cast-off snakeskin of babydom giving way to shiny new lanky big-girl wrapping, and new cues to tell me they are relaxed. Perhaps they’ll start smoking? Or wearing big nubbly turtleneck sweaters, curled up on the couch drinking chai?
All things being equal, they’re doing relatively well with this New World Order, although they had some misgivings at first. That first night, at bedtime, I suggested “Hey. Let’s not suck our fingers while we’re reading books.” After I reminded them that it was Cynthia who wanted them to stop sucking their fingers, and after I answered all the auxiliary “why?” questions, Zoe explained, direct and clear as a glass arrow, “But Mama. That my thumb is so yummy, I have to suck on it.”
So the new routine is no fingers until go-to-sleep-time. Clearly they’re starting to catch on because last night, after we finished reading books, Zoe asked “Is it alright if I suck my thumb now?” And Lucy said “Yes Zoe. It’s alright. I’m already sucking my fingers.”