Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Tooth is Out There

My six-year-old son lost his first tooth the other day. Well, maybe “lost” isn’t quite the right word. The tooth was yanked out with a string by his mom (a.k.a. my wife) after it had been precariously dangling in the front of his mouth for the better part of two months. Fed up with the tooth’s stubbornness in not coming out via natural causes, we decided it was high time we took action—hence the yanking.

My son was compliant with the forcible removal of his tooth, as he too was anxious to finally join the ranks of his many friends at school and have a gap-toothed smile. So when the moment of truth came, he braced himself and took the yanking like a man. He did not cry out, yelp, or even whimper during the procedure, for which we gave him no anesthetic.

I asked him if it hurt and he proudly said, “No.” Then he looked at the tooth that my wife put in a small plastic cup and noticed there was some blood on it. He looked up at me and asked, shakily, if there was blood in his mouth. I looked in his mouth and said, “Yes, there’s a little bit of blood. But that’s natural.”

Clearly this was not the response he was hoping for. He ran to the bathroom to look at his mouth in the mirror and as soon as he saw the bloody spot where his tooth used to be his eyes welled up with tears. I assured him that it was no big deal, pointed out that he told me it didn’t even hurt, and instructed him to rinse his mouth out with water.

He vigorously rinsed his mouth out with water, shaking and trying to hold back his tears. In between spits there were dramatic statements like: “I never want you to do that to me again!” and “I never want to see that much blood coming out of my body again!” Then his four-year-old brother came into the bathroom and took the hyperbole up a notch when he said, with heartfelt sorrow, “I don’t want him to die!” (Cue the violins.)

After the rinsing and spitting we moved on to the ice. We had him stick an ice cube in the space where the tooth used to be and the bleeding was considerably staunched. Still, his brow was furrowed and he looked generally ill at ease. That’s when I whipped out the Twinkies.

My kids had never had Twinkies before and for some reason, on my way home from work earlier that evening, I decided to pick some up. The effect of the Twinkies was instantaneous. As soon as I produced them and said, “Who wants dessert?” my son’s anxiety was replaced by gleeful fascination. Moments later he was biting into a piece of cream-filled sponge cake heaven, and all thoughts of his own mortality were forgotten.

That night, as my son slept, I snuck into his room, removed the tooth from under his pillow, and put a dollar in its place.  I would have put a Twinkie there, but we ate them all.