By Diane Ako
My husband and I had a dinner function to attend, and some good friends of ours offered to babysit Olivia. We know them because our daughters were best friends in preschool, so they've known each other for two years now.
In the beginning, we scheduled some play dates so the girls could hang out, but we ended up having such great couples chemistry, we have befriended the family and the extended family. What an absolutely lucky occurrence that we don't take for granted!
Amanda is the girl's name, and she now attends a different grade school. I'm not sure if it's the distance, the particular personalities, or simply the gender (people say girls are dramatic from the get go), but sometimes the girls will get along famously, and sometimes they fight. Sometimes it'll all happen within one play date. We think Amanda is really darling so I think this is just what happens with little kids.
Anyway, we were preparing to drop Olivia off at Amanda's house for a sleepover - the first time Olivia has slept at a friend's house. Olivia has slept at my parents' house and at a calabash aunt's house, and she's had a girlfriend sleep at our house, but she's never done it at someone else's house. Exciting!
We prepped Olivia for the event by remind her of her manners and telling her what our schedule was (that we'd be back in the morning.) We packed the overnight bag. She was very happy to be having a big play date with her good friend.
Suddenly, to my surprise, she slumped over and started pouting. "What's wrong?" I asked.
"I don't want Amanda to see me sucking my thumb," she explained. "She'll make fun of me." Olivia sucks her thumb when she's tired and about to fall asleep.
I've asked her to stop and I've pointed out that big girls don't do that, but she won't. "It's too hard! I just can't!" she's insisted before.
"Well, I'm sure Amanda won't make fun of you, but I'll also tell her mommy you're sensitive about it, so she is aware of how you're feeling," I offered.
"But I will be SO embarrassed if she teases me!" Olivia complained. And so went the conversation for a while, until we arrived at the house.
Next day, we went back to pick her up. Everything went fine, said the parents. The girls got along well, no bickering. Then the girls danced out of the room to keep playing, so Amanda's mother whispered to me, "About the thumb-sucking. We did have a little incident last night. Amanda saw it and said, 'That's weird!' I told her people can do things differently, and that it's OK. It was fine after that."
Olivia never mentioned it after we left, so I guess it wasn't a big deal. Actually, I hope this incident encourages her to stop sucking her thumb. Maybe peer pressure will succeed where I've so far failed. Your thoughts?