TSA and Other Addictions

It's not funny anymore.

Really. We have a couple big problems in our home.


This is addict number one:

The 6-yr-old. She is in a sad state of long time addiction. She's been a slave to her habit for six years now and has tried unsuccessfully several times in the past to kick it.

This is addict number two:

The 3-yr-old. Her addiction dates back to her baby days and has a stronghold on her presently. It's going to be an uphill battle for this kid as well, I'm afraid.

To look at either of them, you'd never know they were hiding a deep rooted addiction that's virtually controlling their lives.

I think I am going to have to take some tough love kind of action. It's time that I, as their loving and concerned mother, did the hard thing. It's time to break the chains of addiction at last.

Tonight I am calling to order the first TSA meeting in our home.

What is TSA, you ask?

Thumb Suckers Anonymous.

This is how it will go down. Both children will be caught by surprise, because if they ever got wind of my plans beforehand, they would definitely go a-wall. MIA. You do not want to lose people who have tiny little bodies and can easily hide just about anywhere in your home. I could be looking for them for days.

Anyway, the people who love them the most will be waiting for them when they enter the playroom. The chairs will be arranged in a circle, and seated in those chairs will be other unfortunate addicts, all whom are trying desperately to understand the psychosomatic reasons behind their thumb sucking. The hope is that through this enlightenment each addict will be able to come to grips with whatever incidents in their pasts have brought them to this dreadful place.

They will resist at first. I have no doubt. That is why I have enlisted the help of Malificent from Sleeping Beauty and Ursula the sea witch from The Little Mermaid to stand guard at the exits. You can read about my daughters' phobias about Disney villains here:

I know this sounds terribly cruel, but we have reached that point. I'm pulling out all the stops.

I will be the discussion leader. After my children have joined the circle of trust, I will explain how this works.

Each person will have a chance to tell us their name, give us an update on their progress, and let us know of any relapses since we last met.

I will go first to get the ball rolling and set them at ease. My addiction confession will be slightly different, but they'll get the gist.

"Hi. My name is Sharon and I'm a recovering "What Not to Wear" addict."

The circle members will respond in their little voices, "Hi, Sharon." They'll seem so nice I'll feel confident enough to share my secret.

"I've been clean for, um, three days." (What? We're nothing in the circle of trust if we're not honest. Besides, I want the girls to feel welcomed and accepted even in their failures.)

The circle will clap and give me their encouragement at my accomplishment.

I really am kinda addicted. I just cannot seem to change the channel when I see a poor schmuck who is SO woebegone in her fashion sense that it's going to make for thrilling t.v. I mean, really, once they had an actual witch from Seattle who wore shirts with the armpits cut out! And when they start arguing that their panda bear sweatshirt with an ankle length denim skirt is perfectly acceptable for a job interview, I simply am hooked. I can hardly wait to see how this person will be transformed.

My husband may be a little jealous of Clinton and my great affection for him. Jealous, yes, intimidated, no. I think my husband could take him.

But anyway, enough about me. Back to the TSA meeting.

Next, I will encourage another child to speak up.

"Hi, my name is Lauren and I'm a thumb sucking addict."

"Hi, Lauren."

"I've been hooked since the first day I figured out I had thumbs. It started slowly, just a little here and there between bottles and naps, but before I knew it, I couldn't stop. I would go days without speaking and the only time I removed my thumb would be to eat as quickly as possible. The times it's the most tough is when I have a cold and cannot breathe unless my mouth is open."

Everyone will nod in sympathetic understanding and urge her to continue.

"Once I tried to quit by laying on my hands in bed. I started shaking and crying uncontrollably. I lasted just three minutes."

We will all clap for her, moved by her openness.

Next, the youngest TSA member will speak up.

"Hi, my name is Leighanne and I'm a thumb sucking addict."

"Hi, Leighanne."

"My story is pretty much the same as my big sister's, but I partly blame her because I looked up to her and her habit influenced mine. I wanted to be just like her. She was so cool. I now know I should've been more careful who I let in my inner circle of friends."

The group will wear sad looks on their faces and there will be murmurs of, "we know, girl, it's so hard when you're surrounded by temptation."

But she won't be finished. "I am also a cheez-its addict. Sometimes I just can't stop sniffing them. The high I get from them is so peaceful. It's better than Benadryl."

The addicts around her will look down, all remembering their own first meetings and the difficult confessions they made.

"I've never actually tried to quit. I don't think I'm ready yet. But I hope that if I continue meeting with you guys I'll be able to try. You are all so inspiring."

A skinny kid with an angry birds t-shirt will speak up and say, "You can do it. I was a major thumb head for most of my life and it nearly destroyed me. The playground teasing was unbearable to the point that I begged my mother to homeschool me. Don't go down that road, girl. It's a dead end."

And so, the TSA meeting will come to a close. I'll thank each participant for their honesty and candor, and we'll schedule the next meeting for the following week. Same time, same place. I will dismiss them, and they will all head straight for the little people toys on the shelf.

But my kids? They'll head straight for something else, something that draws them like a moth to a flame. My breath will catch in my throat.

The baby doll that sucks her thumb. And in a moment that will touch my heart forever, I will see them pull the doll's plastic thumb OUT of her mouth.

And so will begin the long road to recovery.


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