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Thumb Wars

It’s baby season, and while I no longer have a license to hunt one down, I enjoy admiring yours from a respectful distance.

After you’ve carted it home and cleaned it and mounted it just right in your Ergo, I will give you one of the most important things you will ever need: a pacifier.

Binky. Bippy. Nuk. Sucky.

I will give you a variety pack, because we all know how ornery  persnickety  opinionated  selective the sweet little varmints are.

This transparent nugget of quiet contentment (notice the quiet part, please) will save your bacon for the next couple of years or so, until the time comes to lose  burn  give it to the big boy fairy in trade for a Ferrari not have one anymore because little Timmy should not bring one to kindergarten unless he can bring one for everybody.

Sharing is not caring in this case.

The reasoning behind a pacifier is common sense itself.  Little Timmy can have as many as he wants because they come from the plastic factory. They are easy come, easy go.

But he only has two thumbs. Those came from God.

And thumbs are not disposable. Yet.

Oh, I’m sorry. Did you just pledge to keep your child pure and free from all things synthetic and decide to nurse him into his organic teen years? I will add you to my prayer list and we can talk in twenty years because yes, you will at some point hand him a frozen pizza and go out for drinks with your girlfriends.

Oh, I’m sorry. Did you just say “Tossing out my kid’s binky is like inviting the toddler apocalypse into the house”?

Let me tell you which habit is going to be harder to break.

When I was my mother’s firstborn darling, she thought it was the cutest thing, her baby bundled up with her thumb in her mouth.

What happiness and instant quiet that thumb brought. (I did say quiet.)

It kept me happy for months which turned slowly into years.

It must have dawned on her one day that her kindergartner was still sucking her thumb. I’m sure  Miss Smith and my classmates noticed, and if they had any sense at all, were chock full of envy.

Sure they had thumbs of their own, but mine was so far superior – I made it look good, really – that they didn’t even try to compete.

And don’t think for a minute I was going to share.

Time wore on, as it does, and I have memories of painting bitters on my thumb to keep it from straying into my mouth, and on my nails to stop me from biting them. I remember being shamed by family members and embarrassed by peers.

I didn’t want to be a baby anymore, but my fingers would not stay out of my mouth. They snuck in when I was concentrating on schoolwork or watching TV or deep in sleep.

Eventually I was able to keep my nails on the short side. Occasionally I went with acrylics which, as you know, don’t come off by biting on them, they come off when you’re mid-vacation by catching them in a zipper.

They take the top of your real nail off, too, but at least you didn’t bite them.

It’s not your fault.

The roof of my mouth is permanently shaped in the press of a thumb print, like a cookie.

My right thumb is flatter than my left thumb, knuckle included.

My teeth were crooked, not side to side, but front to back, as my right teeth came forward for convenience and allowed me to bite my own lip once in a while. Good times.

When I finally got braces, I was a young newly-wed.

They stopped my fingers – and food – from going anywhere near my mouth for over two years.

The pain kept me from biting anything harder than applesauce.

Now you know.

The pacifier is an orthodontist’s kryptonite. You can invest one direction or another.

All hail, the binky.

It would have saved my dignity, my teeth, my thumb, my lip, my nails, and my marriage.

Well, the marriage worked out.

Because once you’ve seen your wife suck her thumb in her sleep, there’s really no other secrets left.

Published inParenting


  1. I love this! Thank you for being a positive force for families. My husband and I struggle to have children but we also blog about our little adventures and life lessons too. We would be honored to receive a visit from you! Our website is

    Have a blessed day, best of luck going forward! Know you’ve impacted someone for the better! We’ll continue to follow.

    The Bolen’s

  2. Jerusha

    And then there were my babies who would not take a binky or a thumb. There have been no orthodontist bills but plenty of screamfests were endured in the car. Also, they now make organic gluten free frozen pizzas if anyone was curious…

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