The Dormouse has been sick a lot lately. And when she gets sick, she doesn't mess around. Like her father, when he was her age, she gets very high fevers that scare the bageezus out of her parents and then just as suddenly go away. I guess maybe God's trying to drop me a subtle hint not to get to cocky about being able to keep her alive this long.

This season, she's been sick more than her usual self. It has been driving me nuts as to why... she's been in preschool at least two days a week since she was two, so it can't just be exposure to nasty little kid germs - that's nothing new... and then it occurred to my why. Several weeks ago, she started a new little annoying habit to drive me nuts: putting her fingers in her mouth.

This is only the, oh, 12th fidget-y habit we've seen on this child in her short lifespan. Based on this and her family history, I've already got her signed up for an addictive personalities group when she turns 16. She went through the 'scratching at the mole on the back of my arm' habit while she was breastfeeding. Drove me nuts. You'd think I could keep from getting upset with an infant who has no idea that she's causing me to bleed every four hours, but you'd be wrong. I'd cover it with a bandage, she took the bandage off. I'd wear long sleeves, she put her hand up my sleeve. I'd sit way back in the chair so she couldn't get her hand behind my arm, she'd fuss and whine until she could. And that was only slightly less annoying than when she'd do the same thing to my bosom.

Then after she stopped breastfeeding there was the 'putting her hands up my sleeves' habit while I would rock her to sleep... at first it was sweet. It seemed to just comfort her when she could touch my bare skin and I wouldn't have minded except that it quickly turned back into the 'picking the mole on the back of my arm' habit once she got her hands up there and realized there was something to do.

This eventually became the 'putting her hands up her own sleeves' when she was going to sleep, which I was perfectly happy with until it devolved into the 'picking at her own arms' habit. That one actually caused someone at church to accuse me of bringing her to the church nursery with a contagious disease one day - she had picked dozens of little sores into her skin that would never heal, no matter how many bandages, hydrogen peroxide, and Neosporin we slathered all over her. Another mother thought I was ignoring that fact that she had chicken pox and was deliberately exposing her own Preshus Baybee. I suppressed the urge to yell "take a pill" at her and explained the situation, which I'm convinced she either a) still did not believe or b) was horrified at my child's blatant obsessive compulsive disorder symptoms this early in life. Whichever it was, she recoiled in disgust and her child hasn't played with my child since. Good riddance.

The thing is, if we can get her to stop whatever habit-du-jour she's picked up for just a few days, it usually goes away almost immediately after that. We eventually solved the Arm Picking One by taping her sleeves at night before she would go to bed. Now I know that sounds like a Child Protective Case waiting to happen so before you go calling authorities, we used medical tape around the outside of her pajama sleeves, not tight around her wrists, but once it was there, the fabric of her sleepers wouldn't stretch, so she couldn't get her entire arm up her sleeve to do the damage. Once the little sores had an opportunity to clear up, she stopped doing it altogether. It did however, cause more than a few lifted eyebrows in the grocery store when she'd announce out of the blue in the most plaintive voice possible, "Maaaaaammmma! Pleeeease DON'T tape my sleeves tonight. Pleeeeeeze!"

So the latest one is the hands/fingers in the nose/mouth. Which means she's always touching something and/or you with wet hands. And.... raise your hand if, 'Eeew'? I know a lot of kids suck thumbs and for some reason, I could probably live with that a whole lot easier than the fact that since her hands are always in her face, her balance is off and she doesn't always see what's in front of her and she's always tripping over stuff and then we have to spend about 20 minutes consoling her and then she calms down, and we put her down, and she sticks her hands back in her mouth (because she also does it as a stress reliever) and she immediately falls flat on her face again. Begin process all over again. It's not that I don't want to soothe and pacify my daughter, frankly, I just don't have that kind of time in a day.

And so I present:
My List of Ideas Regarding How to Break This Ridiculous Bad Habit Without Losing Face in Front of Nazi Judgmental Mothers I Come Across Which is Impossible, I Know, but I Think I at Least Get a Couple Soccer Mom Points for Trying:

1. buy her one of those old-fashioned muffs; tape her wrists together inside it
2. put her in a black and white striped prisoner costume, handcuff her hands behind her back; explain that she loves Halloween so much, she refuses to take it off
3. buy her two fake arm casts; claim we were in a car accident

4. sew really large infant onesie with the snap over the hand mittens; put her in it and allow people to believe I just can't let her infancy go
5. teach her to never take her hands out of her pockets; have people think that something entirely different is going on...

(Dr. House talks to Concerned Mom who thinks that her daughter has epilepsy)
House: In actuality all your little girl is doing is... saying yoo hoo to the hoo hoo.
Mom: She's what?
House: Marching the penguin... ya ya-ing the sisterhood... finding Nemo?
Mom: (covering little girl's ears) Are you saying she's (whispers) masturbating?
House: (sing-song-y - talking out of the corner of his mouth) I was trying to be discreet... there's a child in the room.

6. do not comb or wash her hair for three days; let her get her fingers inextricably stuck in it (trust me, it would happen)
7. teach her to constantly hold both arms above her head and repeat over and over, "Can I get a witness for the Lord?"
8. have her pretend she's a cat, constantly crawling on all fours and meow-ing at all she meets; as hand must serve as paw, there would be no chance to put it in mouth (this would only be mildly difficult as she's doing this about 30% of the time now)
9. glue her hands to her cheeks, tell people she really loves that Home Alone kid
10. put boxing gloves on her hands, tell her she's training for the next Tyson fight

I'm open to suggestions.