Tuesday, May 08, 2007

You're A Hard Habit To Break

When I was really young I had a really bad habit. It was something that took medical intervention to break.
I never sucked my thumb. I used to suck on my index and middle finger on my right hand. I would stick them in my mouth to about my second knuckle and suck on them. While I sucked on them I would rub the fabric of my favorite blanket between my thumb and index and middle finger on my left hand.
It was my way to comfort myself.
It seemed that my mom always knew when I was sucking my fingers and it took me years to realize that it wasn't that she had eyes in the back of her head but that she would hear me rubbing the fabric and knew that I was sucking my fingers.
I remember one time when I was very young that I had left my blanket at the public library and we had to drive back over to get it. By the time we returned they had closed and my father pounded on the door so that they would let me in to get it back. I wouldn't have been able to sleep without it.

I still sucked my fingers even into elementary school. I remember in third grade we always had to put our heads down and be quiet after recess for a minute or so before class would start. It would be dark and I would stick my fingers in my mouth. I didn't want anyone to see me do it, but it was still my comfort.
My brother had to get braces and my mom took me to the orthodontist to check my mouth as well. I had very straight teeth but she was concerned that I would push my teeth out with the constant sucking of my fingers.
The orthodontist told my mom that if I stopped sucking them that my teeth would grow in straight but that there was another problem. When I would swollow instead of pushing my tongue against the roof of my mouth I would push it against my top teeth. If this continued I would have buck teeth and have to get braces to correct it.
I had never heard of the item that they installed in my mouth. It was called a tongue crib. It was used to retrain your tongue to push against the roof of your mouth to prevent tooth movement.
I had to rest my tongue in this contraption so that every time I swallowed it wouldn't push against my teeth.
The worst part of the entire issue was that I couldn't take it out. I had to go to school with this thing in my mouth. Trying to talk with it was a nightmare. I sounded like someone with a dimenished mental capacity.
Go ahead, try it. Stick your tongue on the roof of your mouth, say "A Commedienne's Sidekick" and see how it sounds.
Yeah, this is what I sounded like for 6 months or so in the third grade. It was embarrassing.
I am pretty sure my mom enjoyed the perk that I was no longer able to suck my fingers as the tongue crib would dig into my fingers. She had tried everything from Tobasco Sauce to that nasty nail polish and nothing ever worked.
When the removed the tongue crib I immediately tried to suck my fingers again but it never felt the same.
I do still rub fabric though. I don't even realize that I am doing it, but it still comforts me.


reformattingmybrain said...

Aaah habits - gotta love em. My son puts the ribbon edge of his blanket over one finger, under the next, over the next and under the last then makes a fist to hold it there. My bad habit is sticking things under my finger nails - the fabric of jeans or shirts, necklaces, rings, folded paper, etc. I have NO idea why, but there are several women in our family that do it.

Tara said...

I had never heard of the tongue crib either! My habit was picking at my nails and also twirling my right index finger around a strand of hair. I think it was a nervous habit. My mom would notice if I were twirling my hair because I sounded distant while I was doing it. I still bite and pick my nails sometimes and I occasionally twirl my hair and it gets all kinky.

mielikki said...

My sisters had "tongue spurs" put in, so that when their tongue went against their teeth it would cut it. I am very grateful I didn't have to go through that!

l.b. said...

I never heard of a tongue crib, but it sure sounds rather unpleasant. I know it is a disgusting habit, but I still bite my nails sometimes. Okay...this post has inspired me for my blog. Thanks Rachel.

Churlita said...

When I went to college, I still had braces and a rubber band that went from one side of my mouth to the other. It was so hot. (not)

David in DC said...

After my orthodonture was finished, I had to wear the tounge spurs meilikki describes for a year and a half in college to keep from ruining the work of four years of highs school braces, rubber bands, retainers, etc.

It was like adding injury to insult.

playtah said...

Isn't it funny what habits we develop when we're little? For me, I had a binky. Mom had to finally hide it so I'd stop using it. I also had a blanket that I loved.

When my Dad was little, he rubbed the satin ribbon (around the edge of his blanket) to go to sleep. One time the family went to a drive-in movie, and Dad couldn't fall asleep because he hadn't brought his blanket. Grandma finally took her bra off and gave it to him because it was satiny like the edge of his blanket. He fell asleep.

dmarks said...

The above comment is not the most common type of tale of bra-removal at the drive-in. Not by a long shot.

laughingattheslut said...

My brother sucked his thumb and did the hair twirling thing. It would curl the top of his hair, and Mom would make him wear a bow. She tried all kinds of weird things like that.

The thumb sucking ruined his teeth and he not only got braces but had to wear this other thing first. It made him stick his lower jaw out so that he sort of looked like Bubba from Forest Gump.

I bit my nails for about a year. When I got tired of doing that I bought this nail mender stuff and put about ten coats on to make my nails really thick and I finally quite biting them.

egan said...

Wow, I did something quite similar until I was about seven or eight years old. I sucked the right index finger and thumb with my palm facing upward. No wonder my damn lower teeth are so messed up today.

evil-e said...

I was a nail biter. I quit for a long time and restarted. I quit again....it never ends.

I replaced nail biting with smoking and quit and restarted....it never ends.

habits do suck. Thanks for sharing this story.

Anonymous said...

ugh. i push my the top of my teeth with my tongue as well and today my evil orthodontist decided to give me tongue spurs. they are tiny needles GLUED to the back of my teeth so then whenever i try to swallow they stab my poor innocent tongue. i hate being 14.

Mykah said...

I'm 13 and i have the tongue crib and it's torture. The only difference is that i got mine in the 7th grade and mine is for a tongue thrust problem. It's hard to talk, eat or do anything with my mouth. I have to put more thought in how i chew or i will choke or it will get stuck in the device. And it makes you drool alot. I have to have mine for 9 months and then i have to get braces after.It's really annoying, but in the long run it will help.

Anonymous said...

So if the orthodontist wanted to put a tongue crib in your 7-year-old son's mouth...would you do it, having been through the experience?

Mary said...

I have the same habit! well same fingers, left hand. I went through the same thing, only mine was 7th grade, not third. you're lucky, the younger the better. It didn't work for me. I sucked my fingers as soon as the crib came out and all through my braces. and i still do it today. I'm 26. but my teeth are straight. go fig.
my husband does the satin rubby thing.

amanda said...

yea, i had a habit of sucking my two fingers then i got the tongue crid.At first it felt so weird but now im getting it off. I my scared that it will hurt. then when i got it off i felt normal not having anything ant the top of my mouth. thank god i have it off. i tried to suck my fingers over and over again. it just feels good to be normal =}

LaSarah said...

I'm 21 and I've been rubbing soft materials on my face since I was 6.I can go months without doing it if i misplace it, but as soon as i find another one it can continue everyday, all day for years. I don't have problems with not having it when i'm busy, but as soon as I see it again I have to rub it on my face. I could be washing dishes folding clothes, or sweeping. I won't put it down. Sometimes I don't even notice that I'm doing it. I also suck my tongue anytime I rub it on my face. It's soft and it helps me sleep and focus sometimes too.

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Anonymous said...

I sucked the same fingers on the left hand. It took forever for me to break the habit. I didn't rub fabric but I would find something I like... like a sheet, pillow case, shirt collar and rub it under my nails.

Still to this day I find myself rubbing fabric under my nail. Not sure why but I like the way it feels.