When The Dormouse was two, she developed this habit of putting her hands up her sleeves when she was going to bed. That is to say, she would put her right hand up her left sleeve and then scratch at the back of that arm and vice versa. It was a form of self pacification; it calmed her down, got her ready for sleep and more importantly replaced the extremely slightly more annoying habit she previously had had of putting her hand up my sleeve and picking at the moles on the back of my arm.

But then we realized that she was picking at the back of her own arms when we started to notice little sores all over them as she felt a mosquito bite or whatever and scratched it until it scabbed over and then proceeded to open up all the scabs every night.

We tried putting cream on them to keep them from itching but it wasn't really about the itching. We tried applying Neosporin to quicken the healing so there wouldn't be anything to pick at when she did it but she was too fast for us. We tried explaining to her that these sores wouldn't heal until she quit scratching at them but she was doing it subconsciously or in her sleep and even if she wasn't, reasoning with a two year old is kind of an exercise in futility. It got so bad that both her arms were covered with chicken pox-like sores.

One day at church, I was dropping her off at the nursery when another mom noticed her arms and commented. "Oh, what does she have?"

We'd been fighting this with her for awhile so I flippantly joked, "A nervous habit."

She looked at me like I'd grown another arm myself so I back-tracked. "Oh it's nothing. She just scratches at her arms until they look like that. It's kind of her way to self pacify..."

*no reply - awkward pause*

Then it occurred to me that maybe she had other concerns so I added, "It's not contagious or anything."

"Well," she snapped back, "I didn't mean to imply that you would bring her here with a contagious disease."
And then she turned her back on me and walked off.

Sometimes you should just give up on some conversations before they even start.

After that, and I can't even believe I'm going to admit this in a public forum, much less on the interweb, we started taping her sleeves at night. And before that woman from church reads this and calls CPS, it's not like we taped her sleeves to her arms or anything, we just wrapped a length of medical tape around the edge on the outside of her pajama sleeves where they met her wrists, loose enough so the sleeves could move around on her forearm, but tight enough so it's opening wouldn't stretch to allow her to get her hand inside her sleeve. Then she couldn't reach her hand inside her sleeves up to her arms. It was a last resort, but it worked. That, more than anything, helped all the little sores on the back of her arms to clear up because she couldn't worry them open in her sleep.

As The Dormouse got older, she grew out of this quirky little habit and it abated. She doesn't do it anymore, but before that we had many rows of "Momma DON'T tape my sleeves tonight, PLEASE!" and maybe a few more CPS scares when someone overheard that conversation.

But the universe always works toward a dynamic equilibrium and we now have the pleasure of dealing with yet another quirky, self-pacifying habit in The Caterpillar: hair twisting.

Hair twisting with the gusto of a teenage girl in social studies class.

This one is marginally less annoying than The Dormouse's, not to mention has less of a potential to get us investigated for child abuse. In fact, it's pretty innocuous - apart from the occasional tangle in her hair that has to be combed out (or cut out, if you're The KoH and you lack the patience to comb out a rat).

Or at least it was, until the other day when she woke up from her nap and I suddenly heard screaming coming from her room. I ran in to see this:

Looks fine, right?

That's what I thought.

So I asked and she said, "I. Need. Help. With my HAIR!"

And when I looked closer, I found this:

She had gotten her finger completely stuck in there, cut off the circulation and couldn't get it out.