3 under 3

The big renege

Posted on: October 24, 2012

Okay, so I’m not above concocting elaborate schemes for bribing my children to do things that I feel are necessary. For example, the Nappy Fairy visited both Tiernan and Molly when push came to shove with toilet training. That went pretty well, so I reserved the right to apply the concept in other circumstances. In teacher speak, this is called ‘Synthesizing, and I awarded myself full points for my cleverness. Until it all went wrong.

The time has come for Tiernan to stop sucking his thumb.

He has had dermatitis around his mouth and on his thumb for some weeks now, caused by saliva as he sucks his thumb in his sleep and drools everywhere. We were treating it, but a few days ago he developed an impetigo infection around his mouth. Impetigo is contagious and needs to be treated with antibiotics. He is off preschool today and I am home from work because of the impetigo. This is not something I wish to repeat. The thumb sucking has got to stop.

We had been discussing this with Tiernan since the dermatitis started anyway. He was pretty resistant to the idea. However, once the impetigo started and I made him wash his hands every time he touched his face (so he didn’t give it to us), and he started to realise that impetigo sucks, he did say that he might be able to quit sucking his thumb if we took his blankets away.

In that instant, the Blanket Fairy was born.The Blanket Fairy takes blankets from big kids and gives them to younger kids who need them more, which is exactly what the Nappy Fairy does, only she deals in nappies. Clean ones.

I asked Tiernan if he would like me to get the Blanket Fairy to visit. I explained that the Blanket Fairy would leave him a toy if she let him take his blankets. He got excited about the toy and seemed keen. He went to his room and said goodbye to his blankets, of which he has about seven, left over from his baby days. He used to call them ‘barties’. He likes to rub them on his face while he sucks his thumb.

Then I realised the Blanket Fairy (ie. Me) wouldn’t have time to go to the toy shop that night, so I told him he could have one more night with his blankets and say goodbye tomorrow. He was cool with that. He said he would miss his blankets but he was big enough now not to need them anymore, and that he didn’t want to suck his thumb anymore either. So brave.

But that was during the day.

In the evening, he changed his mind. He was tired. And sleepy. And a big baby again. He wanted his blankets and his thumb and was never, ever giving any of them up.

Two days later – today – I broached the subject again. We’re both home because of his impetigo. We had the opportunity to visit ‘Toy Giraffes’, the coolest toyshop ever (also known as ‘Toys R Us’ if you’re an adult). So I told Tiernan that I had spoken to the Blanket Fairy on the phone (he already thought that anyway – I was talking to my Mum and he asked me if it was the Blanket Fairy, so it wasn’t really that much of a lie). I said the Blanket Fairy had given me some money to buy him a new toy and that she wanted him to pick one out so that she didn’t get the wrong thing. Also, she’s really tiny and can’t carry big things.

He bought it. He was super excited about going to ‘Toy Giraffes’. He was ready to sign over his soul for a visit to ‘Toy Giraffes’, so his blankets were only a small promise, in the scheme of things.

We went in. He picked his new Spiderman Toy. We came home. We started to pack up his blankets.

He baulked. Then I baulked, too.

Each blanket we found seemed to bring up different memories for him. He smelled each one and told me it was his favourite and could he please, please keep it? After the third one, I couldn’t handle it any more and started to compromise on the Blanket Fairy’s behalf. “Okay, I’m sure the Blanket Fairy will let you keep that one…”, until we had four blankets in the bag, and five in the cupboard. Not exactly what the Blanket Fairy had in mind. I ploughed on, trying to negotiate a better return for the Blanket Fairy’s investment, but that’s when he decided that he really didn’t want Spiderman after all and the Blanket Fairy could have him back. Then he started to cry.

Sigh.

I can see now that his blankets are still very special to him. I don’t want to make him give them away. But how do we renege on our deal with the Blanket Fairy, and keep our dignity?

We don’t. We wrote her a letter and begged to keep the blankets and Spiderman. We agreed that Tiernan would not sleep with the blankets anymore, but keep them in his cupboard. We explained that just having Spiderman would be enough to remind Tiernan not to suck his thumb during the day. Also, we made a plan to cut the tags off Tiernan’s pyjamas because he also likes to hold those while he sucks his thumb (weird kid), and argued that this was a far better plan that giving away the blankets. Last of all, we promised that Tiernan would look after his blankets, until he is bigger and ready to give them to the Blanket Fairy.

Only, Tiernan made me change that bit and he ended up promising to look after his blankets, and when he is bigger he will wear them as scarves. Every day.

Oh dear.

We are still waiting on her response.

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