"I can’t even get a lateral curve," the specialist physiotherapist examining Katie’s foot announced solemnly to the one who saw her last Friday, who had come along to sit in on the consultation and get the verdict. Or some similar phrase, anyway – it meant nothing to me, and her tone of voice left me with no clue as to whether this was good or terrible. Fortunately, it appears it’s good. The first physiotherapist and I were right in thinking that the way she’s currently holding it isn’t an indication of any underlying problem – most likely, it just got squashed persistently into that position as she lay inside me, and has tended to stay there as a result.
"Lots of this," the physiotherapist advised me, flicking her fingertips up the edge of Katie’s foot with a quick tickling motion that I could barely take in, let alone replicate. I insisted on repeating it more slowly until I could do it to her satisfaction. This will, apparently, stimulate her foot to turn into the correct position in response. I am also meant to spend time holding her feet and legs in an outward-turned position reminiscent of a dancer’s plié, or just in a neutral position. I should also avoid putting her to sleep on her front, but that, of course, is somewhat superfluous advice these days – while it’s nice to know that placing her on her back is improving the posture of her foot as well as fending off cot death, it doesn’t actually change what I was doing. No further action beyond this is needed, and we do not need a follow-up appointment, which is good to know, given the hassle of making it to the hospital and near-impossibility of parking once there. Indeed, Barry, having driven us there, had then been unable to come in for the appointment due to the utter lack of anywhere legal to leave the car, and was circling round and round outside even as we spoke. I scooped Katie up, rapidly rearranging her clothing, and crammed her back into the carrier as I raced out to hop back into the car and put him out of his misery.
Since my workplace wasn’t too far off our route home, we took the chance to drop in on the way back and show off the children. This was a success – the staff cooed over them both and Jamie impressed the receptionists by reading all the numbers on the wall calendar, with commentary ("And the 1 is white, but the 2 is black and the 3 is black as well…").
In other news, I have decided it’s time to call time on dummy usage. (I was going to post about this after the dummies were already history so that I could give a full report on how their elimination had gone, but, of course, adding the story so far to this post gave me the chance to use a decent post title for a change, which was not an opportunity I could resist.) More accurately, it was our dentist who decided this, telling me at our last appointment last autumn that it was time for me to get rid of them; this came as rather a nasty shock to me as I had read somewhere or other (on the Internet, so, gee, it must have been true) that this would not be an issue until he was closer to six, by which time he will hopefully have achieved some sort of wondrous Age Of Reason and will be amenable to the traditional routes of peer pressure, bribery ("The Dummy Fairy will bring you a present when you give them up"), or even just straightforward explanation of the necessity. However, our dentist thinks otherwise, and some rather basic perusal of PubMed on the matter turned up abstracts that seemed to back up the dentist – dummy usage past age three has indeed been linked to an increased risk of open bite and posterior crossbite (whatever the hell that is). I’m not sure whether there is any evidence for an effect on permanent teeth – the articles I read (I did not go into detail) only seemed to deal with children at an age where they probably had most milk teeth still in place – but then, that also means no evidence against an effect, so for all we know leaving him with the dummy at this stage may leave him with permanently deformed teeth and a grudge against the permissive parents who doomed him to this fate by their inability to say no to his whims. Just in case, I reluctantly concluded the dummies had better go.
In all honesty, my gut feeling is that his protests are likely to be brief and short-lived before he moves on with life, but you never know for sure until you try and, if I’m wrong about that, we could be in for a miserable time. However, since there seems no immediate prospect of that possibility changing, I’ve decided that if we’re going to be in for a miserable time it might as well be while I’m still off work and there are two of us around to deal with any fallout, so Saturday is going to be the day. (I wanted it far enough ahead to give him a bit of warning, as I think that the affront to his sense of How Things Are Meant To Be will actually be rather more of a potential problem than his desire for something to suck on.) I initially planned to go for an interim stage where the rule is that dummies only come out at night, on the basis that that way he (and therefore we) will at least get some sleep while he learns to fall asleep without it and putting him off until the evening is likely to be easier than expecting him to deal with the idea of never seeing the dummy again, but Barry thought this would be too much a case of cutting the tail off the dog by inches. So cold turkey it will be.
I don’t think he quite has the level of abstract thought to grasp the concept of Dummy Fairies yet, so I have simply opted for the bald statement – "You’ve still got the dummy now, Jamie. But soon [in three days time/in two days time…] it’ll be time for all the dummies to go away forever. And then, instead, you can have your chewy beads and chewy keys!" The latter are his old teething toys, which I dug out – I’ve noticed him chewing the dummy a lot, not to mention other things, so I think his desire for something to chew on is actually (hopefully) now stronger than his desire for something to suck on and if I can provide the former he may overlook the absence of the latter. Anyway, he has had the three-day-warning and the two-day-warning and I have pulled the bed out from the wall to check for any lurking dummies under or beside it that he might discover at a later stage (none, but I did unearth quite a surprising variety of missing books and other objects), and tomorrow he will be warned again of the dummies’ imminent disappearance and then, at some point between him falling asleep that night and waking up the following morning, I shall sneak in and spirit the dummies away to their secret hidden location. And hopefully they will then never be used again, because Katie has shown utter disdain for dummies when I tried them. We shall see – if she shows any signs of developing a thumb-sucking habit in the future, she will be promptly steered towards the dummy instead, thumbs being somewhat harder to remove when the time comes – but it might just be that, however difficult or easy this particular battle proves to be when it comes to the crunch, this will at least be the only time I’ll ever have to fight it.