As a kid, one of the worst things your parents could do in public was lick their thumbs.
The other was yell at you in front of your friends.
My mum and I were talking today and the subject came up about licking thumbs and washing your children’s face with it and how much it grosses me out. So, like most topics I talk about with mum, I realised I had to put this into a post and tell the world that enough is enough.
There was no surprise about a thumb bath.
We knew what was coming. That dreaded feeling of knowing what’s coming but also knowing that if you protest, it will go for longer. We couldn’t have that. What do you do? Do you enjoy your meal and potentially risk it or sacrifice the food for tiny nibbles? The rubbing would get harsher the angrier they were as well. Anyone else felt like their skin was going to come off? Stuck on the end of the dreaded wet thumb? And the muttering! “Don’t know why we take you out.” “Look at this mess!” “Why is it so sticky?” “How am I meant to get this off now?” Geez, I am so sorry for inconveniencing your thumb bath mother. Please, forgive me and by all means, burn away my cheek skin with your vicious thumb.
You always tried so hard not to make a mess knowing that that was your fate if you put even a smidge of sauce or cream on your face. You could see the glint in your parent’s eyes knowing that you weren’t as cleaned as you hoped and man, are parents quick with a wet thumb. Before you even have the chance to wipe it on your sleeve BAM! Wet thumb gets rid of all traces.
It’s like something out of a horror movie really.
Grandparents are even worse! My Grandma use to spit … read: SPIT not lick … a napkin and attack our faces with it. for someone so little and seemingly frail, damn she had a grip on her. Speaking of grips, what is with the fish grip? Something about parents or grandparents pinching your lips into a fish mouth that you unable to move anyway. Not from lack of trying. Is it in the mother hand book? Cause someone, teach me? I would love to be able to quieten and still my children with a fish grip.
My mum always claimed she never did that to myself nor my brother. Pfft. Please, I distinctly remember it in the “please repress” section of my memories. She even tried it when I was a teen! Denied it she tried, busted by her friend she was. Like come on mum, I can lick my own damn thumb now, put yours away for retirement already and give my nerves a break. I don’t need to be looking over my shoulder every time I eat toast or something with jam on it just in case your spit soaked thumb decides to sneak up.
I am glad to report, it has been in fact placed into retirement.
Mine on the other hand I am saddened to say, is officially born.
I did it. The one thing I promised … no SWORE … I would never do to my children. I licked my thumb and cleaned their face. And I saw the same shocked, awe and disgust echoed in their eyes that I felt once myself. I was so ashamed.
It wasn’t even a conscious thought though! How scary is that?! I had no baby wipes on me (rookie mistake) so didn’t even stop to think of the issues surrounding a thumb tongue bath. What am I? An animal? My God, I have fallen so far. I even realised what I was doing half way towards their face and did nothing to stop myself. Just watched as their eyes widened and rounded their head snapped back with a horrified gasp all as if it was in slow motion. What the actual hell?
Maybe it’s secretly programed into our brains. We were embarrassed as kids so let’s share the embarrassment and awkward thumb bath tradition even if we hate it? Well fuck that I say. It’s sick and gross and no one wants grandma spit on their face even at the age of 5.
So, to all the mums and grandmas and great grannies out there, please for the sake and love of your children and their children, put the thumb down! Break tradition! Give the kids a break! Dirt will not harm them! wearing your spittle in front of their friends and the public will.
And to my babies, I am so sorry I did that and will try not to subject you to the horror again.
Justice tasted somewhat sweet though I do have to admit.