Tuesday, June 23, 2009


My Conner is growing up. There's no arguing this fact. It's good, it's what we want to happen...but there are still little milestones that he hits that are just hard for me to swallow.

All three of my boys are thumb-suckers. They all started out with pacifiers -- or "plugs" as we call them. But then each of them, in what has apparently become an important milestone in becoming a true Wellsbrother, have ditched the plug for the thumb on almost exactly the day they each turned three months old.

We've thought about it, we've talked about it, we've read a little about it, we've listened to the advice of many others -- everyone has a different opinion on when and how thumbsucking should stop.

Bret and I were both thumbsuckers as children -- me until I was in kindergarten, and Bret on into elementary school. This is more than comfort and habit we are dealing with, this is genetics. We have known that breaking this would be hard and probably painful.

The decision that we have come to is that the thumbsucking isn't really hurting anything except the baby teeth at this point. But when the "grown-up teeth" start coming in -- that's when it's just gonna have to stop.

When Bret and Conner went camping a few of weeks ago, they had a little conversation about the thumb. Bret told him that he was going to be around some bigger kids -just like he'll be when he starts kindergarden - and sometimes big kids can be kinda mean. One thing that happens sometimes is that they will pick on people who still suck their thumb.

Conner looked at Bret and said, "Really? Why?" Bret told him that sucking your thumb is something that little guys do and when we get bigger we stop. Daddy sucked his thumb when he was little but he had to stop and so did Mommy.

"Oh. I guess I should stop sucking my thumb before I go to kindergarden, huh?"

They decided that this was probably a good idea. They talked about him not sucking his thumb on the camping trip so the big boys wouldn't tease him, but Conner ended up sleeping in Bret's tent and it wasn't an issue.

But then in the excitement of the camping trip, the conversation was forgotten...until Conner and I were talking six days ago. We realized that a lot of his friends both his age and a little younger are starting to lose their first teeth. We decided to check his, a discovered that one of them is actually a little loose. (That's not really saying much for this kid, though. I can't tell you how many times he's knocked his face on something and knocked a tooth loose for a couple of weeks...) But it was loose, and for this conversation anyway, this could only mean one thing:

It was time. No more thumb sucking for Conner.

So we put band-aids on his thumb that night. We've done this before, but he's always ripped them off in frustration as soon as he got serious about going to sleep. But not this night. This night he squeezed his hands between his legs to keep his thumb away from his mouth.

And he did it. He woke up in the morning with the bandaids still on his thumb -- not even wet or chewed on! Tonight is the sixth night of no thumb sucking and Conner is doing great.

This child who first started sucking his thumb at three months old,

who, as a baby, sucked his thumb to tell me that he was hungry,and has, for all intents and purposes sucked his thumb to put himself to sleep for his entire life,is now sleeping like this,and like this. Bless his heart, he wants to make this happen, and he's working so hard! It's been nearly a week now, and there have been no struggles or tears. I keep waiting for them...but I'm starting to think that we might get to skip that part.

We'll just have to see...

Conner Bug, my sweet boy. I am so very proud of you. Thumb suckers have a reputation for being easy and cuddly babies, and you were certainly no exception. I love you for that. And you may be growing up on me now, but I will always, always treasure my memories of your sweet little thumb in your mouth as you sat in my lap and cuddled. I'm a little sad that I didn't know to especially cherish it the last time we cuddled that way...but I'm afraid that if I had known, I might have become a big ol' blubbery mess, like I am right now.

So here's to hoping and praying for straight grown-up teeth, tooth fairies, and easy tranistions...


Bret Wells said...

I have the coolest wife and kids in the universe.

Tiffany said...

Is it weird that I am reading this at work and tearing up? I guess I am also thinking about how much I can't wait for Kaleb to find his thumb so I don't have to get up and find his pacifier in the middle of the night!! I guess every beginning has an end that becomes a beginning for someone else!

GREAT job Conner Bug!!

Bret Wells said...

Tiffany, the answer to your question: yes you are weird.

that's what you were asking right?

BooBoo said...

Oh, my! Brings back the memories of when you stopped...

And...besides loving my little (but growing up) Conner Bug and being quite nostalgic about being the recipient of a lot of those thumb-sucking, caressing cuddles, the other thing that really, really touched me was Conner's response to the information that people might make fun of him.
"Really, why?"
From the mouths of babes and a soul really close to God--How DO we humans have the audacity to make fun of any other human being???
Thanks for sharing your children with us, Rach. Thanks for allowing him to be my teacher, too.
MOM pfu,wpfy

TGirlsRock said...

Hey! Catie was a thumb-sucker too and she stopped when she lost her first front tooth on the top, the last day of kindergarten. We watched a home video of our family vacation to Colorado a few months ago. I was pregnant with Jessi and Catie was a little tubbie of blonde haired blue eyed love. We were on a train and she had her "raggie" (a little baby washcloth) and she grabbed it up off the dashboard (we were in the front row)... and swung it around her fingers as she popped her thumb in her mouth. I had forgotten how special, if that is the right word, those moments were. I feel honored to be able to relate with you at this moment in your life. Welcome to the next "phase".Love you!

Heidi said...

I know...I kind of feel the same way about Ryan....and he stopped sucking his about 2 weeks ago. When he had the virus with the sores in his mouth, he said it hurt too bad to suck his thumb. And everytime I ask him about his thumb he keeps telling me it hurts to suck his thumb. So, he broke himself (or maybe the virus broke him.) But bedtime has been HORRIFIC since he won't suck his thumb anymore. That is the only way he has ever put himself to sleep..... I know my Mom tried EVERYTHING to break me of thumb sucking and NOTHING worked...I went to Kindergarten and no one else was sucking their thumbs...so I just decided I shouldn't either!

Amanda Brooke Kilgore said...

Well, I have a tear in my eye! What sweet pictures of Conner - all of them - especially the ones where he is sleeping whilst keeping his thumb out of reach. PRECIOUS! I think he's going to be quite a go-getter. I don't know a thumb sucker who ever had that much desire to stop on their own.

Whitney, David, Emma, Gabe, Hayden and Grace said...

I have never had thumbsuckers until Grace---she sucks it in her sleep. From what I can tell, she must have been made to feel ashamed about it in the orphanage because she hides it from us--like under a blanket and looks embarrased--which just breaks my heart. So I have told her she can suck her thumb and not feel ashamed-which is probably not the right thing to do, but I hate that she was treated like that. I know I'm setting myself up for a battle--but we rarely even see her do it which must mean it is infrequent. Do you think I've done something wrong here?

Bret Wells said...

No way Whitney,

You do whatever it takes to teach that sweet girl that she doesn't have to be ashamed any more! If that means she'll need braces, then so be it. Teeth are easier to fix than a heart that is burdened with shame, fear and doubt.