Sunday, November 08, 2015

Loose Teeth and a Grumpy Seven-Year-Old

Is there anything weirder than teeth falling out of your face? It's been, what, like 25 years from since my last loose tooth, but I still dream about losing teeth once every few months. 

Curtis is squarely in the loose tooth zone. And he hates it. He refuses to wiggle them, no matter how loose they get. But sometimes that doesn't mater. 

Curtis and I were having a wonderful night at the last Bees game of the season (courtesy of tickets from Drummer Danny). Tate, however, spent every minute begging me to buy him a treat. I finally capitulated, shelling out $6 for a tray of stale nachos. 

We all took turns with the nachos, until Curtis started wailing. His mouth was bleeding and he was hysterical. 

"My tooth fell out!" he sobbed.  

"And I swallowed it!" 

Luckily, a letter to the Tooth Fairy ensured that Curtis could still turn the tooth into a cash payout. 

(I was happy to see that our grumpy little guy signed the letter "love Curtis.")

After a successful visit from the Tooth Fairy, I thought we'd be done with the loose tooth drama. 

Far from it. 

Tooth Two

A few weeks later, Curtis' other front tooth started wiggling. Soon it was hanging by a thread but Curtis refused to touch it—or let anyone else touch it. 

I was working in the yard when he came out screaming. "My. Mouth. Is. Bleeding," he huffed. Despite my aversion to blood, I took him into the house to get him cleaned up. As we stood in front of the mirror, I could see the tooth was so loose that a strong wind would have blown it right out. But he wouldn't let me touch it. 

I put a wet hand towel into his mouth to stop the bleeding. "Curtis," I said, "Just touch your tooth with the towel."


"Curtis, your tooth is about to fall out. Just touch it really soft and it will come out."


"If you just bite down something it's going to fall out. I'm going to get you a piece of bread."


I hand him a piece of bread. He very tentatively touches the bread to his lips.


"What?" I asked. 

"There's. [sob, sob]. BLOOD! [sob] On the bread!"

"Okay, okay. Let's try something else. Let's go upstairs and brush your teeth. That will clean off the blood and probably make the tooth fall out."

"I. can't. do it."

"Be brave, buddy."

So we moved from one bathroom to the other. Curtis picked up his toothbrush and slowly raised it to his mouth—only to yank it way before it actually touched his tooth. After trying this several times, he finally sobbed, "I'm not brave."

At this point, we were probably 15 minutes into this ordeal and I figured it was time for Dad to make a decision. As far as I could tell, I had two choices:

  1. I could let this continue to go as it was going—simply try to comfort my hysterical child and let nature take its oh-so-slow course. This would be painful for me and I would hate every second of it.
  2. I could take action—yank out the tooth and be done with the thing. The only problem would be the lifelong scars I would cause to a boy who just wanted his dad to protect him but who yanked his tooth out instead. 
I settled on a hybrid approach. 

I stood behind him and gently wrapped my arm around him (pinning his arms to his chest).

"I'm just going to touch your tooth," I said.

"No, Dad. No. It hurts. IT HURTS!"

He struggled to get away from me, but I held him tight. And then I ever so slightly touched the tooth. It dropped out so quietly that Curtis didn't even notice.

"It hurts, Dad!"

"What hurts?"

"My tooth."

And that's when I let him go and theatrically presented the tooth. "You mean...THIS ONE?"

The tears stopped immediately. It was time to focus on more cash from the Tooth Fairy.

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