Saturday, October 11, 2008

Bad baby: The camouflaged enemy

In the world today, the threat of Al-Qaeda is ever-present: A cunning, ever-changing foe that continually evolves new ways to strike with impunity at its targets. But the same description applies to our dealings with our infant son, who is about a dozen days away from reaching the six-month mark.

You may think we're exaggerating. But as Pa presses his jihad against Sonny's habit of sticking thumb into mouth ('It's just not hygienic!', he howls), we've seen things that have led us to question accepted orthodoxy on how quickly babies can adapt and learn. By now, Sonny - at least when fully awake - knows that open digit-sucking will bring a furious, special-forces-style response from his father: With a barked 'No', adult hands will surge in to harshly separate thumb from mouth. Sonny's first response was to attempt to fight force with force: He would try mightily to keep his digit from being wrested from its saliva-filled cocoon. But, of course, Pa always won these tussles. So he withdrew from open conflict, as reported in 'Our little terrorist understands threats'.

But Sonny then went the guerrilla route instead, with a series of strategies that stressed guile. First came what the anti-terrorist authorities (translation: Pa) dubbed 'the Curl'. The little fella would first reconnoitre to establish where prying eyes were. Then he would roll himself away from them, using as his body as an observational barrier so he could suck his thumb unseen. The strategy has caused consternation among Sonny's grandparents (consider them the innocent civilians that are always caught up in any war). These days, Pa is automatically suspicious whenever he sees Sonny begin to contort his body in such a way as to conceal his mouth.

So the cunning little thing has moved on. These days, his camouflage is more subtle: He will hold a cloth book, or some other bulky object, close to his face, as though nibbling, so his thumb can sneak in surreptitiously for quick contacts. This is considerably harder to spot, since Sonny is forever raising some toy or other to his mouth. Like any smart guerrilla commander, he's also keeping the enemy guessing by widening the range of his depredations: He's taken to sucking his toes as well, arching his lower body dramatically upwards so his mouth comes within striking distance.

Most effectively, however, Sonny is waging the war for 'hearts and minds', as they say in the counter-insurgency trade. He wails piteously when forced to yield, sending trails of tears flowing to accompany the protest. As observed in passing in 'When Mum's a bad influence', he's more brazen about sucking in the open when Mum (or any of his grandparents) is around: Pa thinks the little fella is deliberately provoking a crackdown so as to win sympathy. By now, the anti-terrorist authorities are so assailed by demands that they "at least let the poor thing suck until he falls asleep" that they have beaten a tactical retreat.

The little fella's a veritable Ho Chi Minh in diapers.


Shirley said...

This one left me in stitches again! I have the same problem with mine. She will either grab a cloth or her clothes and shove both the cloth and thumb into her mouth. At first I thought it was cos she didnt want to bite her own finger accidently (yes, she's got 2 little teeth poking from the bottom gums)Now I think it may be cos she's trying to hide the sucking finger thingy! I'm so afraid that she'll end up sucking her thumbs till she's 30years old! (Don't be surprised, there're stories out there of plp who are secret thumb suckers)
Maybe you should blog about them..... hee hee hee!

Cloudsters said...

Congrats on the sprouting teeth! We don't know any secret thumbsuckers but you're right, there are probably shadowy support groups that clandestinely support research into improving saliva tastinesss...