Friday, June 17, 2005

Toothless at Four

When Kaleb was 2 he fell teeth-first onto the corner of his toy box. That toy-box mishap turned into an abscessed tooth a month and a half ago. On Wednesday he had both of his front teeth pulled to avoid further infection. And up until we left for the dentist's office I didn't think anything of it. That is until I got a little weepy looking for my keys.

Kaleb's my oldest and I'm acutely aware that he's growing up. He has lost his first baby teeth at least two years before he was supposed to. A mother's entitled to a few tears over that. Yes, I'll probably cry his first day of kindergarten. It's the great parental paradox - with each ounce of maturity a child gains, an ounce of infancy and childhood slips away, never to return. Maturity is what a mother hopes her child can achieve gracefully, yet that maturity solidifies a child's infancy into a mere memory. And I've always hated good-byes.

Kaleb was a trooper and only cried when the dentist injected his gums with the local anesthesia, four times. In fact, the dentist pulled the teeth out before Kaleb realized what had happened. “When's he gonna pull my teeth, Mom?” he asked, biting down on a bloody bit of gauze. “He already did, you brave boy,” I said, tearing up again.

We brought the teeth home in a little plastic treasure chest, the “Tooth Saver,” and I introduced him to the concept of the Tooth Fairy, something I hadn't expected to do for a few more years.

Kaleb tried to understand. “The Tooth Fairy is going to take my teeth?”

“Yes,” I answered.


“Yes. But she'll leave you money.”

“I don't want money, I want my teeth.”

And so Kaleb has been carrying his Tooth Saver around for the past couple days, periodically shaking it like a rattle. And while it's been misplaced more than once, something about him holding onto those teeth is calming. My little boy is also somewhat resistance to letting them go. He's even looked at himself in the mirror a few times to say, “I don't like my teeth out.”

Kaleb suffered a bit when those first teeth came in over three years ago, and we're both suffering a bit to see them go. But if I'm lucky the permanent teeth won't come in for awhile. And if I'm even luckier, high school graduation won't be for a long while after that.

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