Toddler Thumbsucking, Parenting, and Being Careful What You Wish For

I have known for quite some time that I have to be careful what I wish for, because I just might get it.  I frequently get what I wish for.  It just doesn’t work out quite as I’d intended.  A few days ago, I’d posted about our toddler thumbsucking issues.  I thought that I’d do anything to get Norton to stop the toddler thumbsucking, short of amputation.

I thought wrong.

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Daily Toddler Play – Pumpkin Crispy Rice Treats

Norton “helps” me shape the Rice Krispy treats into balls

Since it seems like some of the most memorable moments of toddler play for Norton and me are in the kitchen and we had so much fun making them together last year, we made some pumpkin crispy rice treats.  It’s pretty easy.  You use your standard Rice Krispy treat recipe, but with some minor alterations.  (For starters, we doubled the size.)  We had so much fun making them last year that we decided to do it again this month.

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Toddler Adventures in the Great Outdoors

He’s lost his fear of dirt as he rolls in the sandbox. (Taken with my iPhone)

I love our backyard. Sure, there are things about it that aren’t what I’d have intended. I’d love a backyard without a mini ski hill. I’d love to have a green thumb and be able to plant a garden. I don’t have those things, but what I do have is a little place for toddler adventures. Those toddler adventures are generally just Norton and his trusty sidekick T’akaya the Brilliant Border Collie. I’m generally watching from inside.

Our backyard has a little swing and slide and a sandbox, but other than that, it’s pretty much open space. I can’t help but be amazed at how things have changed with my little boy. At the beginning of the summer, when he’d fall down, I’d have to go pick him up. He hated touching dirt so much that he wouldn’t even get himself up when he fell because it meant putting his hands on the ground. If he should, by some unfortunate twist of cruel fate, get anything on his hands, he’d run to me and wipe his hands on my pants. He couldn’t even stand to wipe the dirt off on his own pants.

Now? He’s much more independent. He runs all over the backyard. He plays fetch with T’akaya. He chases T’akaya and she chases him back. Sometimes one will knock the other down and kisses ensue. There’s fun with sticks. He’ll swing on his Little Tikes swing or go down the slide. And he gets dirty… really, really dirty. Sometimes he comes in so grimy from playing in the sandbox and falling down that he often gets a bath afterwards. A lot of days, he doesn’t even get to leave the landing at the back door before I take his clothes off and spray them down with Tide Release stain treater. I hold his wrists when he goes up the stairs so that I don’t have to touch him and he doesn’t touch my walls. He’s starting to live up to that phrase “Boys are noise with dirt on it.”

While it means that my washing machine gets a workout and we actually have to keep a stash of play clothes for him to wreck, I don’t mind. It’s normal toddler behavior. It also means that my little boy is growing up and exploring the world around him.

Have your children ever made complete turnarounds like that? What was their big change?

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Toddler Thumb Sucking – Will It Fall Off?

One over-sucked thumb.  (Pardon the quality, it was taken with my phone.)

I swore that I would never have to deal with toddler thumb sucking.  After all, Andy didn’t take a pacifier or suck his thumb.  I figured it would be the same thing with Norton.  Of course, it turns out that I figured wrong.  He refused a pacifier and latched on to his thumb.  Now the toddler thumb sucking has gotten completely and utterly out of hand.

I’m just plain not sure what I should be doing about this.

I’m actually kind of concerned.  The toddler thumb sucking has gotten worse.  It’s almost constant that he has his thumb in his mouth.  I’ve already had enough troubles with Norton’s teeth.  No cavities that the dentist could tell after our dentist visit from Hell.  He does, however, have that extra left lateral incisor, and that’s causing some crowding.  However, he’s spending so much time with his thumb in his mouth that it’s causing other problems.  Some of his teeth are starting to shift to compensate for his thumb.  But that’s not all.

It’s starting to interfere with toddler talking.  He’s finally very nearly caught up from his language delay, but now we’re starting to find a new problem.  He doesn’t want to take his thumb out of his mouth to speak some of the time.

And his thumb?  It’s looking awful.  He only sucks one thumb.  I guess the other just doesn’t fit in his mouth properly or something.  And he lives with that thumb in his mouth.  It’s gone beyond that painful wrinkled pruning that happens to the skin when one stays in water too long.  It’s starting to peel.  It’s red and irritated and just plain looks painful.  There are a few times that I’ve been almost certain that his tantrum is due to the fact that it hurt to suck on his thumb.

Now I just need to figure out what to actually do about it.  Putting hot sauce on his thumb seems barbaric… and I’m pretty sure it would hurt since he’s damaged the skin.  I’ve seen this brace thing that parents put on the thumb so that kid can’t quite latch onto the thumb the same way.  There’s no pleasure of sucking on the thumb, so they just stop.  I’ve heard of using a bitter nail polish.

What actually works, though?  It’s not like I can just take away his thumb… and I’m starting to worry that he’s just seriously going to muck up the works.  It’s bad enough that I’m already anticipating braces.  I don’t want to have to look forward to reconstructive thumb surgery or something else (being completely ridiculous here) because he won’t keep his thumb out of his mouth.

Did you have a thumb sucker?  How did you break the habit?

Random Toddler Weirdness

Random toddler behavior can be so… well, weird.  Lately, toddler snacking has gotten out of control.  Norton hasn’t even been liberated from his room some mornings before he starts demanding granola bars.  On this lazy Sunday morning, my husband managed to accidentally nip the toddler snacking monster in the bud.

We went to Costco yesterday, like we do most weeks.  We bought a big box of granola bars.  I’d failed to put away all of the groceries, so Norton picked up the big box of granola bars and carried it to his daddy.  He put the box on the husband’s knee and said, “Granola!” (Or at least, his pronunciation of granola, which is so garbled that I can’t even type it.)

The husband turned the box around and around in his hands and said, “What makes you think that this box is granola?”  Norton is silent, but still looking at his dad expectantly.  “What makes you so certain that this is granola?  It could be socks for all you know.”

“Socks!”  Norton turned around and ran off to his room.

“No longer interested.  Not quite what I had in mind…”  Whatever.  The husband went back to reading the news on his iPad.  All was quiet and peaceful.

Until Norton ran out of his room with a pair of socks in his hand.  “Socks!”

The husband patiently put Norton’s socks on for him.  Then he gave him a granola bar.

I live in the weirdest house on earth.

The Confusing Nature of Puppy and Toddler Behavior

I will never, ever understand toddler behavior… and I will especially never understand combining toddler behavior with that of a dog.  You see, I know that Norton loves T’akaya.  And I know that she plainly adores Norton.  If she didn’t, she probably would have eaten him by now.

Yesterday, I got annoyed with Norton, and so did T’akaya.  He was taking away her lobster toy.  He was jumping off of the arm of the loveseat and right on top of T’akaya.  Of course, T’akaya was getting quite annoyed with this.  She growled at him.  I couldn’t blame her for growling; he clearly needed to be warned by her that this was not okay.  After all, it’s not like I haven’t done my own bit to let him know that there are some forms of toddler behavior that aren’t acceptable, and hurting puppies is definitely one of them.  Mind you, it’s not like it actually did any good.  He still grabbed her tail and yanked as hard as he could.

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Daily Toddler Play – Caramel Apples

I haven’t done as awesome with my daily toddler play goal as I’d wanted to, but we have gotten to do some pretty cool stuff.  Since it seems like our most successful toddler play efforts (at least, the really cool memorable ones) involve the kitchen, I decided to make caramel apples with Norton.  After all, we still had some goodies left over from the cookie decorating kit, so why not?

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Shining Moments of Toddler Affection

For the first two years of Norton’s life, I didn’t get much of his attention.  I was like… furniture.  You know, like that couch in the living room that’s always there.  All of the really awesome things, like the snuggles of toddler affection and the enthusiasm for the return of a parent, were resolved for Daddy.  I actually didn’t get toddler affection until after Eudora was born.

Once Eudora came along, suddenly Mommy was a desirable thing to have.  It’s like he realized that he’d have to actually share my attention.  Mommy’s time was no longer limitless and all his.  Once he got over being angry with me for bringing home a new baby and being gone for so long (and leaving him at his grandmother’s for so long since the husband and I were both sick with the stomach flu when we brought Eudora home), he decided that he liked me.

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A Smart Toddler Uses Problem Solving Skills

One of the fun things about being a mom to a smart toddler is watching his mind at work.  It’s like all the effort that Norton wasn’t willing to put into talking, he put into being a little engineer.  Yesterday my little engineer demonstrated some pretty smart toddler reasoning skills.  Had it not been for him using those reasoning skills to get into things, it would have been pretty impressive.

Norton was playing with some crackers and making quite a mess.  (Not to mention teasing the dogs.)  The husband lost patience with it, took the crackers, and put them on top of the kitchen counter.  The crackers were just out of Norton’s reach.

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Shy Toddler Changes Plans

Sometimes I have to marvel over how my plans for being a parent change so much when there’s an actual child involved.  You see, before Norton was even born, my husband and I had decided that I would homeschool.  Recently, I’ve realize a few reasons that will have to change.  It all centers around raising a shy toddler.

Considering how bold Andy has always been, I never anticipated a shy toddler.  I’m not sure how much of this is nurture or nature, but what I do know is that I have to adjust my plans to suit the child that I have instead of expecting my child to adjust his temperament to suit my plans.

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