Imagine that I am single parenting for the week while my darling husband out of town and I am sound asleep snuggly in my bed around 1am when Sweet Pea wanders in. “Mawm. I can’t sleep. I’m sick. My tooth hurts.” One ailment at a time, please dear. Wait. What? What did he say? loose tooth? Please, not a loose tooth. Nonononononononono!
Sweet Pea has issues with loose teeth. At 12 years old his anxiety is much better, but he still has eight more teeth to go. Loose tooth=trouble at our place. The first tooth or two weren’t bad. I say that because I don’t even remember Sweet Pea losing those first teeth. It is possible that I formed a new personality to deal with the trauma, but I think it was simply uneventful. Real tooth anxiety started when he was seven. Let me start this part of the story by saying that my husband and I decided we were NOT going to be the kind of parents who put their kid in a head lock and rip out his tooth because it is on our nerves. Let me also point out he was our first kid. We know more now. It turns out we are exactly those kinds of parents, and proud of it. But I don’t want to give away the end. Sweet Pea’s tooth was so loose it would move when he breathed. I hoped maybe he would sneeze it out. It hung so low he couldn’t close his mouth. He wouldn’t eat or drink. His lips were cracked and his breath smelled like roadkill. This went on. for. DAYS.
This was going on in October and we were all invited to a Halloween party given by one of Pickles’ friends. Sweet Pea was going to wear a shark costume. It was really cute, the costume completely covered him and his arms stuck out through the shark’s mouth and looked like legs. He was excited about the costume and the party, so we decided we would let that be a carrot. Pull out the tooth so we can go to the party, you can eat candy! Yay candy! No luck. Then we went to the stick approach. If you don’t pull the tooth, we can’t go to the party. Still nothing but the ragged sounds of mouth breathing and and the smell of death. We pulled out the big guns. We aren’t going to punish Pickles because you are being ridiculous, so while you still have that tooth, just you and Daddy are staying home. We got wailing and sobbing but no tooth pulling. That tooth didn’t even need to be pulled, it needed to be removed. Party time arrived and Pickles and I dressed up and got in the car. There was no way we could bring Sweet Pea. He had stopped talking because his loose tooth would bang into the other teeth when moved his mouth. He was pretty gross to look at with the cracked lips and there was also that potty breath. Poor Sweet Pea put on his costume and stood at the curb waiting for us. Silent and dejected. Dressed up and beaten down. Oh the irony of a shark with one too many teeth. We waited for him as long as we could, then went on to the party.
Ten minutes into the drive, I get a call from Husband.
Husband: Turn around, it’s out.
Me: Awesome! How’d it happen?
Husband: I put him in a head lock and pulled it out.
Me: Oh, thank the Lord. That totally needed to happen.
Husband: Yup. He clawed at my arms while I had him in the headlock. Then he thanked me afterward for pulling it out and told me he was so sorry for trying to scratch me.
Me: (Nothing, I had nothing to say to that).
So you understand my eye-bulging terror at 1 am. I get it every time we have a dental wiggle. This time the anxiety was significant, but short lived. Sweet Pea has a routine for pulling his own teeth now. He hems, haws and wrings his hands, then I offer to pull it. He knows if he is in too much distress we have his back. I’ll never let it get to the point it was that Halloween. He was so grateful to us for getting him out of that loose tooth hell we really did him a disservice by waiting so long. That’s the thing about your first kid. They really teach you about what kind of parent you are. Sweet Pea taught us we were head-lock-tooth-pullers. But only when absolutely necessary.
Now Sweet Pea just uses his shirt. Whatever shirt he happens to be wearing. No gauze, paper towels or washcloths. He grabs the tooth through his shirt and twists it out. He usually has a half dozen false starts, but has always managed to get the job done. This works for him and I am NOT messing with his mojo. Unless I have to.
Sweet Pea: My tooth hurts, it is turned sideways.
Me (From bed. If I get up, I’ll only make it worse. Plus it is really chilly out there!): Do you want me to pull it out for you?
Sweet Pea: No! I am going to throw up.
Me: Ok, throw up in the toilet please.
I doze off, unknown amount of time passes. I wake up to check on him. Give him a hug. More dozing.
Sweet Pea: I got it!
Me: Awesome. Did you throw up?
Sweet Pea (heading back to bed): Nope. I just felt sick because I thought I wasn’t going to be able to eat tomorrow. G’nite.
Me: I wouldn’t let that happen.
Right then, G’nite. I got back to sleep around 4:30. Remind me about the tooth fairy tomorrow, wouldja? Wouldn’t want the 12 year old to not believe about the tooth fairy.