Monday, April 19, 2010

Teething Pain

When I was a kid, I never really gave my teeth any thought unless they were loose, missing or had something stuck in them. But these days, it seems my life is all about teeth: loose ones, missing ones, prizes to exchange for missing ones, crooked ones that need orthodontia, impacted ones that will hopefully correct themselves after the orthodontia, etc. etc.

Thankfully, none of them are mine.

Anyone who has read this blog in the past knows the suffering I endured at the hands (or rather, mouth) of Ben when he had his first loose tooth. My chowhound couldn't chow, and life was a tragedy for at least two weeks. I was this close to pulling it myself, just to put me out of Ben's misery.

Now, six months later, the saga continues. Both of Ben's top, front teeth have been loosening simultaneously for some time. He wiggles them with his hands and his tongue, but does all his biting and chewing on the side of his mouth. The tension mounted more every day with fear of the swallowing, hurting or bleeding of said teeth. That is, until Friday.

Friday evening, just before his dad and I were to go out, Ben pulled me aside to tell me "something private" and held out one of the teeth. Hooray! We're halfway done. I gave him a hug, helped him wrap it up and told him to put it under his pillow for the tooth fairy. Then I went to a party. Ben was very happy with his new dollar bill the next day.

Later Saturday, we went to my brother's house for another party, kids in tow. After playing outside for a while, Ben came inside and pulled me aside yet again. But he had no tooth in his hand this time.

"It fell out in the grass and I can't find it," he said with obvious worry over his potentially lost reward from you-know-who. Did I reassure him that it would be fine, that the tooth fairy understands about these things happening? Yes. Did I then go back to chatting with my family? Er, not exactly.

Instead, my husband, my mother, Ben, his cousins and I went out to the back yard, located the general vicinity in which he had been playing when the tooth came out ("I was in the grass"--great), and spent a good 15 minutes looking for an itty bitty baby tooth. You'd be amazed how many tiny, white pebbles-that-look-like-itty-bitty-baby-teeth are in my brother's back yard. I certainly was. And I had to laugh at how ironic I found the whole situation, considering that this is the kid who kept biting me during his breastfeeding days. It felt like CSI: Motherhood.

In the end, we didn't find the tooth, but Ben got his reward anyway. Some might say I went way overboard and that I should have let Ben deal with this small disappointment, a natural part of life. But I like to think that, by putting in a real effort in response to his distress--regardless of how hopeless we knew the search was--we taught him that his family is here for him in times of trouble. Hopefully he learned that we will take his pain seriously, and even if we can't fix it we will do what we can to make him feel better.

Disappointment--like teeth--will come and go, but family is forever. Hopefully, that knowledge will always help ease the stings in his life.

3 comments:

Snowbrush said...

Oh, my god, when I read the first paragraph, I thought you were talking about YOUR teeth. I'm so glad you weren't.

Christine Orchanian Adler said...

Snowbrush, thanks for commenting! Yes, I'm also very glad these aren't my teeth, though the misery is pretty close. At least with kids, you know it's something that will *end* as they get older, instead of worsening!

Katherine said...

I loved reading this every-so-real and beautifully conveyed life / parenting moment. I really liked what you said about "putting in the extra effort to look" as being so important to let a child know that he is being heard and his experiences are honored and recognized. The sense of family being there was also a great observation - how we can be there in subtle yet meanful ways. Beautiful! Thank you!