Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Sucking Your Thumb

Years ago I owned a taxi. I noticed something interesting about many of the five-year-old girls I took to and from kindergarten: many of them sucked their thumb.

What surprised me about it is that every time they did, they calmed down. Some of them got very rowdy in the car. But, as soon as the thumb went in the mouth, they were calm and quiet.

I remember one little girl in particular. My taxi had a bench seat, so I stretched my right arm across it. She would lay her head on my arm, turn her head so she could see me, put her thumb in her mouth, and be completely calm. (She would also search my hair looking for "bugs.") Not a word out of them or any of the other thumb-suckers.

The explanation is that sucking your thumb goes back to an infant’s feeding behavior, yet ultrasound has shown infants in the womb suck their thumbs. If you'll look at that homunculus above you'll see our mouths and thumbs take up a lot of space of our brains. So, the thumb-in-the-mouth has something to do with the brain (I've read that thumb-sucking produces opioids).

I have seen adults suck their thumbs or binkies. I saw an obese woman in a motorized scooter, who had binkie in her mouth. When I mentioned it to my girlfriend, she said she had heard of adults using them to try and stop smoking.

Maybe, or maybe the woman was just nuts, just as the woman I saw in an elevator sucking her thumb was nuts. In her case she was coming out of a public mental-health center.

I once asked my mother if I sucked my thumb. She said no, I sucked my little finger and the ring finger on my right hand. Incidentally, I know a woman who once, when about 11, took a picture of her 12-year-old sister, asleep in bed, sucking her thumb. I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of adults still do it in private.

I’ve read that kissing runs back to an infant’s feeding behavior, too. Sounds about right. If you think about it, it can be considered odd for adults to press their mouths together (I wonder what aliens might think the first time they run across this behavior in humans?).

Since many women babble way too much. I have an idea: all men should carry binkies. When a woman won’t shut up, just stick it in her mouth. It should even be a law.

It would be a much more pleasant world.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sure, many adults DO suck their thumbs, only secretly. Check out, for proof,: www.thumbsuckingadults.com