465 days of loving more all together, 36 days year 2
“But mommy, alllll my friends have lost a tooth, why haven’t I? It’s not fair. It’s so not fair. The tooth fairy will never come. I am so unlucky.”
This has been the standard statement shared passionately with me by my six and a half year old every night at bedtime for the past oh, I don’t know, eighteen months? Needless to say, the question has been getting old. But I get it. He wants to feel like a big kid like his friends. He wants to let go of his baby teeth. Okay, maybe I don’t totally get it because I don’t really want him to loose his baby teeth. I don’t really want him to be a big kid, but oh, I can’t deny his strong desire to grow up. I can’t deny the truth in his emotions; I can’t deny that growing up is going to happen; I can’t deny him the excitement of looking forward to loosing his first tooth just because I am not ready for the tooth fairy to be part of my life.
So every night for the past eighteen months or so, I have shared my somewhat standard statement,
“Oh buddy, I know. It is hard. But your teeth will come out when they are ready. Everyone is a little different and does things at different times and that’s okay. It doesn’t mean you aren’t a big kid just because you haven’t lost a tooth. It will happen soon. I promise, it will.”
And it did. One promise I made finally came true. Last Saturday, out of the blue #1 came running up to me and said,
“Mommy, mommy, I finally have a loose tooth!!! See, see?!!”
I looked. And I looked. And I even wiggled it with him. And I have to admit. I jumped up and down with excitement with him like I was a six year old losing my first tooth. I was so happy for him. Seeing the sparkle in his eyes, the pride on his face, the joy emanating from every aspect of him, it was, well, contagious. My baby was so happy. No, my big boy was so happy. A little bit of my heart cried, but mostly it felt the happiness.
It’s been a fun week, being on tooth watch and all. Everyday at school pick-up I’d ask,
“And, and? Do we still have all our teeth?”
He would joke and say, “Nope! I lost it! Just kidding mom, fooled ya!”
Today was no different except this time he asked me,
“Mommy, when is it ever going to fall out?”
“When it is ready. That tooth is teaching you patience. It is teaching you how to stay calm when super excited!”
“ARGH!” he grumbled and curdled up into his car seat.
Fast-forward three hours. All four boys and myself are hanging out in the doctor’s office waiting to check #4’s lungs. I use the term hanging out loosely; really we were all trying to not bump into each other and bother each other in the cramped space! The only thing hanging out was #1’s tooth. As he sat there, I said,
“Hey, let’s check out that tooth. Maybe we could have Dr. K pull it out while we are here?” I then looked at it, touched it ever so gently and changed my statement, “Hey #1, that tooth is going to fall out any moment. It is barely hanging on!!!”
The nurse came in and started doing stats and everything. #1 sat patiently on his chair; his tongue not so patient as it pushed the loose tooth back and forth, giving me the heebee jeebez.
“Hey Nurse L, I have a loose…”
“What was that?” asked Nurse L.
“MY TOOTH! MY TOOTH! Don’t move it is next to your foot!” he screeched as blood oozed out of his mouth.
And sure enough, this perfect little white tooth lay on the floor. We scooped up the tooth and carefully wrapped it in a homemade gauze pocket.
“#1, yes, you may hold your tooth in your pocket. BUT do not take it out. You are a big boy with big teeth coming in and this is a big responsibility.”
“I got it mommy,” he said.
I knew it was risky but he was so happy, proud, and excited. I just couldn’t deny him of that by holding the tooth. And besides, I have to let him grow up and learn. Well, I must say I think he grew up a lot today, and not just because he lost his tooth, but because he lost it twice. Driving home from the doctor, I heard a very feeble,
“Mommy, I didn’t listen. I took my pocket out of my pocket. And I dropped it in the worst place possible.”
I didn’t think that was possible. I mean I did, but really, REALLY?!!
“Did you take the tooth out of the pocket?” I asked nervously.
“What do you think?” he cried.
“Where is it?”
“In the worst place possible, I already told you.”
And that my friends, was the truth. There was no denying it. You know that small, dark hole that is folds and folds of fabric where the seat belt recesses into? The dark hole that collects cheerios and spilled milk and dust and grossness over the years, and in this case, three years? The hole that you can barely get a finger in to scoop things out? Yeah, that hole. That is where the tooth fell.
I got home and immediately started trying to get it out. #1 sat on the driveway crying. I felt so incredibly bad for him I felt the loss too. My heart ached with him.
“Will you find it mommy? I can’t believe I lost my favorite tooth. Now the tooth fairy will never ever come! I’m so stupid!” he whaled.
Meanwhile, three other children climbed all over the back seat and me as I tried desperately to get the small tooth. Every time they moved, the tooth fell deeper into the hole. Every time I thought I had it, I pulled out a blooming Cheerio. Every time someone moved closer to me, I moved closer to yelling. Every time #1 whaled, I thought, “yeah, I told you to listen.” Every time I thought that, my heart ached because #1 is struggling right now with impulse control. Struggling. While this taught him a valuable lesson about controlling his impulses, it was the worst way to learn.
Again, my heart ached with his. And instead of being empathetic, I let all my sadness and stress about not being able to find his tooth get to me. I was barely hanging on to calm. His not listening to me in the first place, my struggle with the reality of his struggling with impulse control, my not being able to make his heart happy, well it all led me to say rather snapfully,
“You know #1, I told you this would happen. You didn’t listen.”
I didn’t yell, but my words were full of shame and I could tell that I only worsened his wound. I didn’t like the taste of my tone one bit; I didn’t like that I separated us at a moment when we both needed a hug. This was such a big milestone for both of us; we both wanted it to be all sweet and perfect and yet, I was anything but sweet. Given the situation, I could have, no should have, been a lot more loving. And I feel awful. I can’t take back what I said. I can just apologize, which I did, and forgive myself, which I am working on.
At the end of the day, I am not perfect and nor do I need to be. I just want more good moments than bad moments. And at the end of the day, I am grateful that I was there when he lost his tooth and that we shared a not good, but an incredible moment together. And I am grateful that I didn’t totally lose it and starting screaming (as I totally would have done pre-Orange Rhino Challenge) because in keeping my quasi-cool I was able to do some awesome mini-van surgery with my neighbor. Together, we figured out how to take apart the mini-van and shake that tooth lose.
Yes, we found that tooth.
Yes, my son and I cried together.
And yes, we were both barely hanging on today for different reasons, both individually and with each other, but ultimately we found each other and that, despite the momentary gory details, made it a great day.