For some reason this last year Matthew has started putting his fingers in his mouth. He was never a finger sucker, and he’s not sucking on his fingers, but he’s either playing with his teeth or chewing his nails or something.
Earlier this week I got tired of warning him, so I swatted his hand. It made a loud smack sound. He gave me a shocked look and then a pouting lip.
“Don’t put your fingers in your mouth,” I scolded. “From now on when I see your fingers in your mouth, I’m going to slap your hand.” He quietly turned away.
We’ve been also warning him we’re going to put hot sauce on his fingers if he doesn’t stop. Now Matthew is very sensitive to spices. He hates them, but especially spicy hot. “No, no,” he cried after the warning. “Don’t do that. Please.”
“OK, but you better stop putting them in your mouth.”
“I promise, I promise.”
Saturday afternoon I walked in the door after running chores all morning and Matthew came right up to me. “Daddy, I never want to taste hot sauce again.”
I was a little confused. “What’s this all about?”
“Mommy put hot sauce on my fingers and it was yucky.”
“He kept putting his fingers in his mouth,” my wife said, walking into the room, “and finally I did it.”
“A-ha!” I said. “We finally did it. We finally put hot sauce on your fingers.”
“Will you stop that!” my wife who’s in the passenger seat said. “Fine example you are. That’s where Matthew gets it from. He sees you chewing your nails all the time.”
I gave a shrug. It’s true I chew my nails all the time.
“It’s not sanitary,” she continued. “Maybe we ought to put hot sauce on your fingers.”
That got Matthew’s attention. He was in the back and not fully hearing the conversation.
“What did Daddy do?” he asked.
“Daddy was chewing his fingernails. Maybe we should put hot sauce on his fingers to get him to stop. What-a you think?”
I glanced in the rearview mirror to see Matthew’s reaction. He wasn’t smiling or playing along with the banter like I expected. His face wasn’t jolly but most serious, as if some injustice had been overturned and proven him innocent.
“And,” he said sternly, “and I’ve even seen him stick his fingers in his nose.”
Ba-dum. That got everyone laughing.