Monday, June 16, 2008

Just when I thought I was out. . . or, brought low by Thumbkin

I suppose I brought it on myself. I asked my group of women friends for ideas on other finger plays. Brody adores Itsy Bitsy spider, and Bear Hunt. I asked for others.

And in walked Thumbkin.

Thumbkin is a little ditty in which you sing, to Frere Jacques, about all five fingers coming out and talking to each other and then going away again. The song has silly names for all FIVE fingers, and the title character is, as you cna guess, named Thumbkin. Because he is (they are?) thumb. Then Pointy, Tall Man, Ring Boy, and Pinkie.

Where is Thumbkin, where is thumbkin?

(one thumb comes out of hiding) Here I am!
(other thumb comes out of hiding) Here I am!
(one thumb to another) How are you today sir?
(other thumb to first) Very well indeed sir!
(sing) run away, run away.

I know this is a stupid, meaningless song.

And yet, it made me cry. Because Brody doesn't have fucking thumbs.

Just when I thought I had accepted it. It's like a slap in the face. Because the thing with the song is that the little kid you're performing for will, eventually, mimic your hand gestures. But if I sing it to Brody, he will know he doesn't have thumbs.

I know he will know he didn't have thumbs. And I know that he will, in a matter of a few months, have thumbs. But then the question is - which other finger from the song will he not have? Pointer is going to become Thumbkin, and then Tall Man will be in Pointer's position. Which do I sing about to Brody?

It just brought all the injustice of this back to me. Growing up is hard enough, if you remember. Remember all the shit that happens to you in grade school, middle school and high school? And here is this fucking song that reminds me what Brody will have to operate as an 8 fingered kid in a 10 fingered world. Everything counts to 10 in school. You use your fingers to do that.

And I know his life wil not be shattered because he is missing 2 fingers. I know that. He already does everything without thumbs and with only 8 fingers. But goddamnit, he's going to have to think about it, and deal with it, and at some point, he will have his own Thumbkin moment (or moments) and I don't want my beautiful, breathtakingly witty, courageous boy to have one second of misery and yet I can see it coming I can see it already happening, and I won't know what to say to him or how to comfort him or make it better because I can't make him ever have 10 fingers, he will never have 10 fingers, and even though if I lost 2 fingers right now it would be hard but not crushing, I didn't have to grow up like that in the cruel world of children in school. He will be all alone in that school yard, or class room, no matter what we do for him before.

Fucking Thumbkin just brought it all back up to the surface. It's not enough for his skull to be fused, his throat to be narrow, his kidney to be absent, his having to endure seven surgeries before he's 22 months old, live in casts for over half his life at this point, miss out on swimming and baths and climbing and sand castles and walking earlier. . . but the previews have arrived for me.

And then I am at this moment even angrier at myself. Because Brody does not need or want pity. Still, I think some days I can feel my heart breaking and I can't stop it and I can't get it together to figure out how to make it better for him.

Oh, and yes, I did perform Thumbkin for Brody. Only I just do it with my 4 fingers, so Brody won't ever think that he is less than. But then I think I'm patronizing (matronizing?) him. Back to feeling inadequate. Maybe I will be the one to make him feel less than.

He asks for Thumbkin all the time now. He looks at me and puts his fingers together and says "More? More?" in that adorable new person-pitched voice he has.

This is the thing. I noticed tonight he never flinches. Jeremy was faking throwing a ball right in front of Brody's eyes tonight (to make him laugh) and Brody did not flinch. Bright eyes wide open and smiling. But one day he will learn to flinch.

And I do not want him to ever feel that fear, that isolation, that loneliness. And I am completely powerless to prevent it.


SaRaH said...

fuck thumbkins. totally overrated.

Rebecca Batey Fradin said...

Fucking thumbs! I don't think there is, or ever will be, a way to escape the anger that comes from seeing your child have to deal with this crap. It's just not fair.

I went to the VACTERL Network conference in 2007 and a really big thing for me was to see the older children with VACTERLS. They all looked happy and confident and not nearly as traumatized and harried as us parents. I heard over and over again from these kids that what bothers them most is the pain this stuff causes their parents. That really hit home for me.

It is what it is, I guess. Sigh. I so feel your hurt.

Jacque said...

I'm so sorry, Chris! I never even thought of that on the SF board! Brody will be great in life regardless of whether or not he can do Thumbkin. You already know that though. ((HUGS))

Tracy said...

Yes , Thumbkin is over rated in our house too . I have 3 other daughters besides Maggie and Thumbkin used to be a favorite song around here. I never thought it would turn to be the most avoided and hated song in our home . Even my mother in law caught herself the other day when she was singing a little finger son ( she makes up songs for the kids :>) she got to thumb and I just saw her stop and say " we won't talk about your thumbs . "
I think it not only hurts the parents but just all of the families in general .

We're still on the fence about wether to do the pollicization surgery on Maggie or not . Its been a tough one because like Brody she's adapted to not having a thumb . Its a surgery that seems to be a tough one to decide on for us .

I agree with Rebecca there , we too went to the VACTERL Conference last year and I think its all harder on the parents then it is on the kids . LOL.

Robyn said...

LOL at "matronizing."

Agree with Sarah. Fuck Thumbkin. Who needs him?

Brody will never be less than.