"Love follows knowledge."
"Beauty above all beauty!"
– St. Catherine of Siena

Monday, July 20, 2015

Matthew Monday: Fingers Where They Don’t Belong

 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.” 

“I’m gonna learn my lesson,” he said contritely. 

Next day, Sunday, we were driving to Philadelphia to see some family and I was doing the driving.  It’s a little over an hour drive from where we live.  About a half hour into the drive, my wife catches me chewing my nails.

“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.


  1. Better be careful, Manny. Children are always watching you.

    God bless you and yours.

  2. Funniest thing I've read all day:)

    Sometimes after a discipline like that, there will be a couple of episodes of regression. You might find that just a gentle reminder, as in "hotsauce" spoken, will do the trick. That way it isn't an empty threat, and yet you don't have to subject your kids to a saucing every time.

    1. Thanks Jan. I don't think we'll do that again, though we'll threaten it ;)

  3. Out of the mouths of babes! Pretty good! :D
    Hope you enjoyed your trip to our fair city. (cough) Were you in the city proper?
    Seriously, though, my youngest daughter is now wearing braces because of a finger sucking habit when she was little. We tried many things, but hot sauce never occurred to us! A painful and expensive result. :/

    1. I can't remember where that was. These days you just let the GPS guide you. I think it was north of Philadelphia. Got off exit 6 on the NJ Turnpike and went ten or miles along that road. There was a mall and a cemetery near by. Oh I have a niece where finger sucking altered her teeth and speech. She got her teeth fixed but her speech has always been strange. Matthew is not nearly that bad. He doesn't actually suck his fingers; he just puts them in his mouth.

  4. Oh how mean you are! LOL. What a good lesson for both father and son. Seriously though, I'm glad to see some parental discipline, these days if you try to correct a child someone (typically a stranger) will accuse you of abuse. We always corrected ours and while they are not perfect we were able to go to nice restaurants, museums, movies or plays with them without incident.

    1. I do have to say, Matthew is behaved when we go out. Thanks Kathy. :)