Monday, February 20, 2012


My daughter is a sucker.

Now, I don’t mean that she’ll fall for anything (although she will – she is only 6 months old, after all). I mean that she loves to suck on things. She doesn’t care much for binkies, but just about anything else is fair game: her own toes, my fingers, her fingers, her dolly’s hair, toy trucks, the edge of a blanket, my face. Yesterday in church she started to get a little wiggly so I stood her up in my lap and she latched onto the side of my jaw like a little remora. I suspected she would leave a mark, but it was keeping her quiet so I let her do it. At coffee hour after the service my husband gave me a funny look and said, “Do you know that you have a hickey?” I figured he was exaggerating and it was just a little red mark, but when I glanced in the mirror later in the day I saw that there was actually a very noticeable purple hickey that would make a junior higher proud. Oh, the unexpected hazards of motherhood.

But my daughter’s very favorite thing to suck on these days is her thumb. She sucks on it when she’s hungry, or sleepy, or upset. She sucks on it to entertain herself and to comfort herself. Sometimes I hear her wake up in the middle of the night and cry for a few minutes, then suddenly she stops crying and I hear a slurping sound and know she’s found her thumb. I often see her sleeping with her thumb in her mouth. Sometimes when she’s in a mellow mood sitting in my lap, watching her brother play with his toys, her little hand will sneak to her mouth and she’ll start sucking away.

I know that many parents have varying ideas about thumb sucking. Unlike a binky, you can’t take it away. Some people claim it can cause problems with a child’s teeth or bite later on. But – and I admit to possible bias, having been a thumb sucker myself – I consider it a big plus. It helps her comfort herself in the middle of the night, so I don’t have to wake up and blearily search for a binky. We can’t accidentally leave it behind on vacation. It will never fall on the floor and get covered in dust bunnies and germs. Her brother can’t throw it in the toilet. It’s always within her reach.

So I’ll let her keep being a sucker. It makes her happy, it makes me happy, and right now it isn’t doing her any harm. Besides, she looks absolutely adorable with her thumb in her mouth, and when it comes to her adorableness, I’m the one who’s a sucker.

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