I sucked my thumb until I was seven years old.
Child development experts say it’s normal for a child to suck a thumb or a finger for the first one to two years. After that, it may indicate a problem. For me, it indicated a problem. I was an insecure little kid, and thumb-sucking was my Linus blanket.
I only did it in bed at night, and it was always my left thumb. My parents did everything they could think of to make me stop: bandages, gloves, bitter liquids, thumb splints, begging–everything. Nothing could make me give up my addiction.
Until the summer of my seventh year.
That year I became a Blue Bird (baby Campfire Girl), as did most of my seven-year-old school girl friends in little Seminole, Oklahoma. One of the joys of Blue Birding was you got to go to a summer camp with other Blue Birds and older Camp Fire Girls. (Yes, back then Campfire was just for girls.)
So off we went to summer camp, excited about what for many of us was our first time away from our parents. We felt so grown up.
We were assigned group cabins to sleep in, and my friends and I were all in the same cabin (neat!), along with a few other Blue Birds we didn’t know.
The first night we all got in our beds, and a counselor turned out the lights and wished us goodnight. In the darkness, I started to suck my thumb, as usual. Sucking my thumb made a little squeaking noise. I’d done it so long I was oblivious to it.
After a few minutes, a voice called out in the darkness:
“I think there’s a mouse in here. Hear that squeaking?”
Mortified, I jerked my thumb out of my mouth. The squeaking stopped instantly. My cabin mates listened a few moments in the dark silence and concluded the mouse or whatever was squeaking must have left.
I was safe. I had not been revealed as a thumb sucker. And after that, I never sucked my thumb again. Never wanted to. What my parents had tried for five years to stop, the fear of ridicule by my peers did in one night.
Sometimes you just have to wait for the right moment to break a bad habit.
Former thumb suckers, I’d like to know how you quit. Or did you?
Peace and Joy,
Thanks for reading my blog.