Friday, February 19, 2016

First Tooth

I have been waiting to post on this topic for almost a year now. Ever since Carrick's best friend, Ethan, lost his first tooth in kindergarten, Carrick has had a love/hate relationship with the idea of loosing his first tooth.


In the beginning, there was a fascination with loosing a tooth. One by one, Carrick's classmates would come to school with holes in their smiles. Some even lost their teeth while at school.  The fact that a piece of their body could leave the body itself, blood and all, and yet, the person didn't die from blood loss was strange and new to Carrick.


After each new occurrence of lost tooth, he could come home, hoping that what he felt in his mouth was a wiggly tooth. He would ask me, time and again, "when will I loose my first tooth?" I told him, everyone is different. I also shared that I didn't loose my first tooth until the summer after first grade, so it might be a while before his first actual wiggly tooth falls out.


I was 7 years old when I lost my first tooth. Summer was in full swing, and my Aunt and Uncle were visiting us from Indianapolis. It was my front left tooth on the bottom. I was so proud of myself for FINALLY loosing a tooth. Everyone had tiny, plastic treasure boxes from the dentist filled with teeth. They would come to school after loosing a tooth and shake their little boxes like a maraca. My teeth, on the other hand, remained securely fastened in my mouth.


When my tooth made its epic release from my gums, my family was already gearing up to walk down the street to the park. Determined to keep my newly-lost tooth with me as a trophy, I argued with my parents about taking it with me on the walk to the park. You know how 7-year-old knows everything, right? Well, plead as they might, my parents' requests for me to leave the prized tooth at home fell on deaf  ears.


We only lived half a block from the park, it's not like we had a long walk. And wouldn't you now it? The city had just that week laid brand new white gravel at the T-crossing where our street and the park conjoined. At that fateful intersection, the single white tooth, my trophy of a childhood accomplishment, slipped out of my fingers. (I don't know why my parents didn't put it in a ziploc…) Down it fell, into what may as well have been the Grand Canyon as far as my tiny little tooth was concerned. I lost it in a sea of gravel that all looked just like my tooth. Hysterical, beyond consolation, I wept and cried over my lost lost tooth. The one thing I had dreamed of for so long, gone in less than an hour. No trophy to show my friends. Nothing to shake and rattle in the tiny, plastic treasure chest from the dentist. Gone.


One week later...


I came home from playing with my friends one day and my mom told me to look on the table. There it was…a tiny little tooth!!! I looked at it in wonder. How could this be? It had been dropped…in gravel!!! I held it up to get a good look at it. Son of a gun, there was a crack down the middle. My tooth had been run over by a car and cracked in half! My mother had gone back to the gravel pile to search for my missing tooth every day that week when I was out playing. She found not only one but BOTH halves of the tooth!!!! A Mother's love is an amazing thing...


So, how did I fare as a mother with a son on the verge of loosing his fist tooth? Day after day for almost a month now, Carrick has given a daily report on his "actual" wiggly tooth. At first I was queasy at the thought of him loosing a tooth. Then, after about two weeks of this rumored "actual" wiggly tooth, I summoned up my courage and wiggled it myself. I burst out laughing as the tiny little incisor moved from my touch. It was real. It was his first "actual" tooth that wiggled!


Several more weeks went by and his emotions ebbed and flowed, as did mine. Carrick would be excited about the wiggling one day, then terrified of loosing a tooth the next day. We Skyped with Ethan who had lost 4 or 5 teeth since kindergarten. He gave Carrick some sage advice about what to do and what to expect when pulling the first tooth.


And then, the day finally came…


When I picked him up from school today, I knew something was up. Normally, he is waiting at the front of the line, eager to run out to greet me. Today, I stood there and stood there as child after child was released. Then I saw his teacher walking him out, and his face was red. He was heaving with sobs and his eyes were full of tears. "His tooth," his teacher began, and I pretty much blanked out the rest. She told me the story of him discovering the "pop" of wiggling it and how he hyperventilated. All I could do was rub his back and nod my head. I felt just as overwhelmed as he looked. I thanked her and walked Carrick to the car. Between choking sobs, he told me the whole torrid story. It freaked him out, like terrified him to think that this loose tooth would no longer be in his mouth. The myth had become reality.


For a solid hour, I witnessed, helplessly, as he agonized over the oncoming extraction. On the way home from school, he told me how he was not going to go inside until the neighbor kids came out. He wanted to tell them about his tooth and ask them about loosing a tooth, "Since Quinten is 12 and has lost all his teeth. But I don't want to tell Sebastian because he's 5 and hasn't lost any yet…" On and on, the hysteria mounted. No matter what I said or did, he was in consolable. It really just freaked him out.


Finally, at home, I had the bright idea to Skype Ethan again and show him how far his tooth could wiggle.  No sooner had I said this when my phone rang. It was Ethan's mom. I told her about the tooth and Skyping. She was thrilled. "Ethan has a wiggly tooth too. Then can just sit there and wiggle their teeth together." And that's exactly what he did. Talking to his best friend not only clamed him down, but somehow, magically, the darn tooth came OUT!!!! ON SKYPE!!! And his best friend got to be there with him to see it!!!!


I wanted to vomit, but I held it together. Shortly after the Skype session, after the blood was gone, I managed to be able to look at his hole long enough to take a picture. And, just like his mother, he  wanted to take it to the park to show all his friends. I learned my lesson, and I bagged it up (there is no way I would find it in all that sand…) He saw this two older friends and merrily told them all about loosing his first tooth. In fact, he would tell anyone passing through the park all about his tooth.


I am proud of him for braving his almost paralyzing fear of loosing a tooth. And I am proud of myself for not vomiting. It's a huge step in childhood, and in parenting. Letting go of what I so eagerly awaited as a new mother, his first tooth. It's just another reminder that time does not stand still and I have to treasure every moment…even the ones that make me want to hurl.

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