Flash forward to today, Andy's first day of first grade. He flashed a winning smile on this day for his First Day of School picture, and the smile contained all of his teeth. Honestly, it looked like he might have even grown an extra baby tooth or two in the last twelve weeks. He certainly didn't loose that one tooth that is still hanging in there. Today, I came across the wrinkled up tooth fairy certificate in my desk and just threw it away. I've watched Andy carefully bite into sandwiches without using that one wiggly tooth. I've seen him sip neatly through straws on the side of his mouth. That tooth ain't going nowhere.
He gets that from me, you know. The fear of losing a tooth. One evening, when the boys were feeling especially rude and interested in hurting my feelings, they peered at my face in what seemed like a mixture of disgust and confusion. "Why is that one tooth a little whiter and bigger?" Andy asked, pointing out my Tragic Flaw #63. "What's the deal with that?"
I told them the long horrid story, the one that spawns eras. The diving board accident as a pre-teen that chipped my tooth, resulting in a most unattractive cap. Then, years later, the careless bite into my favorite sandwich that resulted in the losing of said cap and feelings of gross betrayal by something I'd considered so perfect, beautiful, delicious, cheesy, meaty. The month long root canal five years later that finally resulted in the third, whiter, bigger cap. Today, things are starting to feel unpleasant around that tooth again. So I have made it my mission to keep Sensodyning that thing to numbness and, much like Andy, figure out ways to eat AROUND the offending tooth. I can still lead a quality life this way. I can. This is what I am thinking, and I can tell that this is what Andy is thinking. He is apprehensive about the loss of his little tooth and what may or may not grow in afterwards. He is my son, through and through.
Alex, however, did almost lose his tooth this summer. I have commanded him not to wiggle it, to try to wiggle it, to even go near it with the slightest of wiggling intentions. He is too young to lose a tooth. We had been at Great America one day and Alex, blue arm cast glinting in the sun, accidentally ran into some horror-stricken lady, who watched as Alex crashed to the solid black pavement, breaking his fall with an already broken arm (sigh) and then his front little tooth (super sigh) which was stained black and super wiggly for a couple days afterwards. "The tooth will tighten back up," Chris told me calmly when I started freaking out. I'm fairly certain he had no idea whether or not this was, in fact, true. But it's six weeks later, and Alex's tooth is still stuck in his face, even as he chomps down into things Andy and I wouldn't touch with a ten foot pole. Whole apples. Hard lollipops. Big delicious crusty sandwiches.
Emily's teeth have grown in nicely. A little crooked, maybe, but if teeth can tighten in gums, then perhaps they can straighten themselves out as well. I have already lined all three children up and given them the cold hard truth. We can only afford braces for one child. Whoever has the worst teeth or perhaps the most potential to become a face model will get the braces. The other two are looking at living the life I still live. Smiling only guardedly and in certain dim lights. Mild depression over a weak jaw line. A cloud of disdain forever directed at my oblivious parents. Et cetera.
I don't know how many teeth Emily currently has. I've never been the kind of parent who counts teeth or anticipates or discusses teething or really gives any kind of thought to anything that goes on in there. One day, your baby shall have teeth. You will probably notice them after they are huge and fully grown and slightly crooked. Only after they potentially get knocked out on the pavement of an amusement park do you really start to care about said teeth. This was once my fortune cookie fortune.
The worst part is that I don't even really brush Emily's teeth. Oh sure, sometimes I steel myself up for some screaming, crying, tantrum throwing, and all out thrashing and I try to take a couple swipes at it with her toothbrush. Sure, I have those nights when I'm feeling up for it. But, mostly, I let her chew on Alex's toothbrush whenever he's not looking (she prefers his), and just keep my fingers crossed that everything's going to work out fine, dentally.
But I am a tooth brushing soldier in the war against cavities with Andy and Alex. I hope we are winning. This morning, we scrubbed those teeth hard and then took Andy's first day of first grade picture. The summer did not go by particularly fast or slow. I am not shocked one way or another that he's entering first grade. Today felt perfectly normal. Perhaps it was that tooth that helped. If that one tiny tooth can hang on in suspended childhood for a little bit longer- well, maybe we can too.