A Toothless Wonder

Purposeful Parent Tip:  Even Adults Get Squeamish. No Need to “Suck It Up” All the Time.

Last night, my daughter lost a tooth. In the scheme of all the worldly happenings, this is not newsworthy. Except that we pulled it out together. Yikes!

Her tooth had been a bit wiggly for a while but was showing no signs of leaving her little mouth. Last night, that all changed. She came into the den with a somewhat bloody mouth and said her tooth was ready to come out. It was about 9:15 pm.

For the next thirty minutes, she wiggled, pulled, cajoled, and at one point, threatened that little tooth until both of us were in a bit of a state. As I watched her deftly trying to move it left and right and analyzing why it wouldn’t come out, I couldn’t help but think that she was being much braver than I was.

I found myself retreating into my room and offering an occasional, “How’s it looking?” comment.  At one point, I was praying that the tooth would just fall out and save us both from the torture. (I’m pretty sure God has more important things to do than cast out a baby tooth, but you gotta try, right?)

As it neared 9:45 pm, progress was being made, but there was still no sign of it coming out. I told her that it might not be ready and to leave it be. It would likely come out in the morning. She was not having it. “I can’t go to sleep with my tooth hanging out, Mom!” Ok, so I ask her if she wants me to pull it the rest of the way out. She agrees. I get my fingers around the little tooth and pull slightly. “OUCH!” 

I freeze. I can’t do it. My stomach is in knots. I feel squeamish. Thankfully, she says, “I’ll do it Mom.” She continues. I resume my role of inquiring about progress and taking an occasional picture. I am remembering back to when I was a child and my father would pull out my teeth. I don’t recall it hurting or there being any drama. Of course, I may also have blacked out. Just kidding Dad!

It’s inching towards 10:00 pm and I go in to see how she’s doing. I decide it’s time for me to take action. She clearly has given it more than the old college try and the tooth really is ready to come out.

She rinses her mouth and I examine the situation. She asks me to talk to the tooth to get it to come out. I thoughtfully put my words together.

“Hello baby tooth. Thank you for being part of Kaitlyn’s mouth for so long. I know it’s hard to go. You had so many friends. But she’s growing up now and needs bigger teeth to help her eat. Your job is done. It’s time to go. Thank you.”

I’m chuckling to myself as the words come out of my mouth, but then wonder how crazy I really am? Both of my children had their baby teeth much longer than most. In fact my son had to have many of his pulled. Something inside of me said that maybe they both wanted to hang on to their childhoods or “babyhoods” just a bit longer and their teeth were just cooperating with their wishes.

I ask her if I can try again and she agrees. I tell her I have no idea what I’m doing and I will do my best not to hurt her. We both take a deep breath, I cup my index finger and thumb around the tooth, give a gentle pull…and it comes out!

Hallelujah! We both are screaming and laughing amidst the “blood and guts” and saying good bye to the little tooth that wouldn’t! Afterwards, we washed it off and placed it into a small baggie for the Tooth Fairy pickup. With a bit of gauze and a lot of hugs, we said goodbye to one of her last baby teeth. An experience I hope neither of us has to do again.

Today she awoke to $2 under her pillow. I told her that she should give me one of the dollars for being the “dental assistant.” She disagreed.

We think sometimes as parents that we have to be all-knowing, all-powerful. I’m here to tell you that it’s ok to admit weakness or doubt. We are not perfect. We make things up as we go along. I have been lucky with both of my children that their teeth magically fell out on their own. Last night was not only a test of my physical resolve, but my mental resolve as well.

Admitting to my daughter that I had no idea what I was doing not only freed me up to make a mistake, but let her know that it’s ok to say that you don’t know.

In the end, we were both richer for the experience.

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