The trick in avoiding long-term issues, we think, is in our reaction to his struggles. The finger-sucking was a real source of comfort for him; whenever he was stressed or emotional (and he's the sensitive kid in the family), he would go to work on those fingers. Now that he doesn't have that, he needs to develop new comfort mechanisms and strategies. We are giving him extra snuggles and extra hugs at night, and he has spent Sunday night and Monday night (as well as the infamous Saturday) in bed with us. If we are patient and kind, and we treat his stress with extra comfort and understanding, hopefully he'll develop those coping mechanisms that will be more productive than sucking on his fingers.
Hard to say, of course. We're certain he's going to need enough psychological help when he's older - Lord knows that The Wife and I have dealt with depression issues on and off throughout the course of our lives. He's exceptionally, brilliantly intelligent and quite emotionally sensitive; that's not a great combination for mental health. Contrast with The Boy, who is brilliant but has the emotional sensitivity of a stump. He's so self-directed and self-assured that the concept of depression, at this point, is a non-issue.
The Baby, despite two accidents over the course of the weekend (Friday night and Saturday morning, when I was watching him, naturally), has turned the final corner when it's come to potty training. He's now 100% pee-trained, and about 95% poo trained. As long as we keep to the standard routines - requiring potty visits whenever leaving the house or arriving anywhere, potty visits before and after meals, and that sort of thing - he's really good. I haven't heard about any accidents at school yet.
Of course, we've been asked a few times - you have three boys, what about trying for a girl? Honestly, the potty training thing is the biggest reason we're likely done with having children. We're ready to be parents that don't have to carry a diaper bag everywhere we go. Pregnancy, labor, giving birth, baby issues, juggling a larger family, trying to prevent #3 from treating #4 like #3 treated #4 in my family: those are issues that we're prepared to handle. Potty training for a fourth time? No, thanks. The Boy and The Baby fought us so hard and so stubbornly that we're burnt out.
Parent-teacher conferences were last week. It was nice timing, because my father was in town for a weekend visit. Little Bear's teacher said the usual things - smart, a good reader, helpful (with the one bullying exception from last month), and sensitive. She also noted that, after watching Little Bear, she understood why we held The Boy back a year from kindergarten: LB is very much a little boy, with all of the squirminess that that implies. He's perfectly appropriate for the class, and he'll start to calm down as he matures, but she noticed the difference between the 6-year old boy last year and the young 5-year old this year. Gifted testing is in another couple / few months; we're sure he's intelligent enough, but the question of "will he sit still for the 90 minutes of testing" is a very valid one.
The Boy received the sterling conference for which we hoped. He is smart, motivated, kind, a leader in the class, and helpful to everybody. At this point, he doesn't have "enemies" in class or anyone who's trying to pick on him - even the kid on the bus who was an issue isn't an issue any more. Not much else to say other than that; all of his teachers love him.
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