So Screecher Creature No. 4 is a thumb sucker. When he was a day and a half old, he placed his tiny thumb in his tiny mouth, curled his tiny fingers around his perfect nose and was happy out. The way he nailed it on the first attempt made me positive that he was a thumb sucker long before he was born. Screecher Creature No. 2 is also a thumb sucker but it took him many many attempts before he got the hang of it. He was probably three or four months old before he stopped putting it in upside down. Something to be mindful of in future years, perhaps. Unlike his older brother though, Screecher Creature No. 4 likes to hold a cloth object when he’s sucking his thumb whereas Iarla just sticks his finger up his nose. I swear one nostril is bigger than the other. Threats that his finger will appear out the back of his head are to no avail. The opposite in fact. He thinks it’s hilarious. I don’t make a big deal out of it. On the contrary, I think it’s the second best thing that can be stuck in a child’s mouth. After he self-weaned, I thanked the Great Comfort Creature whoever and wherever that might be for the gift of self-soothing. Also, I cannot, in all good consciousness object. I come from a long line of self-soothers and was one myself well past the age of knowing better. Although I like to think of me sucking my fingers as a healthier alternative to smoking or getting my kicks from coffee at the tender age of ten. Ok, maybe twelve. And like our youngest, I was partial to something I could hold in my hand. I had a comfort blanket and I still recall how I could not go to sleep if the thing went missing. I kept such a stranglehold on it that was rarely the case. Except on the occasions the washing machine monster got its filthy mitts on it. I would fly into a rage, pull it from the washing line and drag it around the yard in an effort to rid it of its washing machine freshness. One of my sisters had a teddy bear. It started off as a burnished orange and she literally wore him away till he was but a glass eye attached to a manky, black piece of smelly cloth. She wasn’t fussed about who saw her sucking her thumb on the bus on the way home from school, but she didn’t take kindly to being teased about it. An unfortunate lad paid the price one day and felt the glass eye make contact with his forehead. He never bothered her again. She didn’t say a word, just swung it at him; and then sat back in her seat. The same sister also had a “sally.” Sally was the name of the cute little rag doll that came along after the disgusting, fetid piece of teddy bear had to be incinerated and she proved so popular, my mother went straight back into the shop from whence Sally came and bought 5 more of them. So I know exactly how Screecher Creature No. 4 feels and I spent a lot of time and effort helping him find his perfect comforter. He didn’t make it easy for me and we went through a lot of test runs before hitting the jackpot. He liked the tails on one of my cardigans. Oftentimes I was halted in my tracks by little hands tugging at it as I walked past. I have a selection of cotton scarves he is quite fond of too. Once I took the belt off my terry cloth dressing gown, knotted it and threw it into the cot with him. This was largely ignored in favour of the sheet. He would not keep the sheet tucked down around the mattress and pulled it up at both ends for his convenience. I tried labels, numerous cuddly toys, tea towels, dry baby wipes; he went through a phase when he was tinier where he would remove his sock and snuffle into that. I should have read the flashing, overhead neon signs on that one. But none of these stuck for long. Which was a good thing really. The last thing you want is for your child to become attached to one single individual comforter. What happens when/if it goes missing or has to be washed? And then we hit pay dirt. By accident. He happened upon a lone, rogue hold up stocking in my bedside locker drawer and he hasn’t left it out of his hand since. Thankfully it is a nice dark colour so it could be anything wrapped around his little fist. But unfortunately he has taken a fancy to the high Denier content on a pair of tights too. These have left the house with him on occasion and are unmistakably a pair of woman’s under garments. But I don’t care. The child is in tactile heaven. The trouble is though, Juno, our puppy dog has also expressed a fondness for ladies hosiery. Or in this case, the toddlers. She’s not fussy really. But I am. I don’t mind either of them sharing a fetish but I most certainly do mind when one of them is asleep. This would be the human. And the other one sneaking into the bedroom to drag the stocking out of the cot and into the garden to chew it. This would be the animal. Thus waking the human in the process. Not on. Although it could of course be the animal getting her own back on the human who bashes her with various cooking utensils when she is trying to have a snooze. It could be a whole lot worse. It could be the toddler that squats down to chew the back door or the bars of the cot. Or the lino on the kitchen floor. Or the ball of play dough stuck to the……..Brendan! Brendan! Don’t eat that! Gotta go!